TALLAHASSEE -- Good Monday morning, ladies and gentlemen. We are back for the start of one more week in this regular season. Can you believe it? The year is almost done. After this week's ACC finale, Florida State has just one more game. And, a good case could be made that it won't just be the Seminoles' biggest game of the season; it could be the biggest in the series in nearly a decade.
OK, we all know that we're talking about Florida, one of the three other BCS teams who share this state's borders with the Seminoles. Chances are high that after this weekend, the Gators will come to Tallahassee on Thanksgiving weekend sporting a 10-1 record. The Seminoles, too, should have a 10-1 record. With the ACC's Atlantic Division all tied up and a possible berth to the Orange Bowl in the conference championship held a week later, FSU will be trying to give their rival a non-conference loss that could be a blow to its postseason resume.
The Seminoles, meanwhile, are looking for a win in that game that could continue to bolster their own. For a win over the Gators, followed by another in the ACC Championship game could keep them relevant in the periphery of other BCS bowl games; depending upon how the standings and teams above them shake out in the next few weeks. While an appearance in the national title game and BCS Sugar Bowl are scenarios that likely are heading out of the window for FSU, they haven't yet been completely thrown out it.
But, in order for that hope to be sustained, the Seminoles have to win their next three games. ...
Including the one on Saturday.
While it may be fun right now for reporters and fans alike to break down and dissect and project every possible postseason scenario the Seminoles could find themselves in, for the players themselves, the talk is far too premature. Even talk about looking ahead to the ACC Championship game is premature. As of now, the Seminoles don't even have a spot in that game.
Looking ahead to next week's matchup against Florida is too soon for them, too.
Because for now, the Maryland Terrapins are calling.
Nine days after visiting Blacksburg, Va. and coming back and holding on for a narrow 28-22 win over the host Hokies, the Seminoles are making another trip up the Atlantic Coast. This time, they will venture just outside Washington, D.C. to College Park, Md., where they will meet a Maryland team that has had one of the more difficult seasons a team anywhere has had to endure in quite a long time.
The Terrapins have a decent defense. They rank 16th in the country in total defense. It kept them in and won games early in the season.
But it has been their offense that has been the problem. Injuries across the unit have decimated it to the point that two weeks ago, the Terrapins inserted a former walk-on linebacker in at starting quarterback. Shawn Petty was called upon to replace four other signal-callers who went down with season-ending injuries.
It has been a rough road since for once-promising Maryland. Well on its way to a seven- and eight-win regular season, the Terrapins sit two likely losses shy of having a 4-8, bowl-less season. On the heels of last year's two-win showing, 4-8 wasn't what embattled coach Randy Edsall had in mind.
With those story lines serving as the backdrop, we begin the rest of this Week 12 look at FSU's next opponent: the Maryland Terrapins.
If you've been following along all season, you know these "Getting to know" blogs can be quite lengthy each week. We like to give stats, players to watch and just an overall good glimpse into the team the Seminoles are set to face.
Something we also like to do with these posts is to provide you with a group of newspaper reporters you MUST follow throughout the week for the latest information from the other side in the lead-up to Saturday's game.
Like Virginia Tech, Maryland has a rather extensive group of newspapers that continue to cover it. Below are three beat writers you'll definitely want to pay attention to in the next few days.
We start with Jeff Barker, the Baltimore Sun's lead reporter on the Maryland beat. Like the Orlando Sentinel and South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Sun is owned by Tribune Company. Since the football season hasn't gone so well and its basketball team is coming off a trip to the new Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. (where FSU is heading later this weekend), the Maryland beat is seeing itself devoted a little more to hoops. Still, there's some good football coverage mixed in there. Jeff will be a solid follow this week on Twitter @sunjeffbarker.
Continuing on, we pay a visit to friend of the program Patrick Stevens. A longtime mid-Atlantic sports scribe, Patrick knows the Terps, Midshipmen, Hoyas, Patriots (and so many more) like the back of his hand. Patrick covers several different teams for the Washington Times, but devotes the largest chunk of his duties to the Terrapins. Make sure you follow him on Twitter @D1scourse.
Finally, check out the Washington Post's solid Maryland coverage by Alex Prewitt. Like the others on the beat, Prewitt does great work keeping track of the Terrapins' every move -- as cautious and careful as they have to be now. Alex is on Twitter @TerpsInsider.
With all of that out of the way, let’s get to know the 2012 Maryland Terrapins:
No. 10 Florida State at Maryland, noon, Saturday, ESPNU … 23rd meeting. Seminoles lead the all-time series 20-2. They won the previous meeting, 41-16 in Tallahassee last season. A win Saturday afternoon, and the Seminoles win the ACC's Atlantic Division and earn their third trip to the ACC Championship game.
MARYLAND TERRAPINS (4-6, 2-4)
2011 record: 2-10 (1-7)
Coach: Randy Edsall had barely been on campus a full year and already the temperature below his chair was heating up. In the offseason, Maryland fans complained about the way the Terrapins' 2-10 2011 season ended, and the way Edsall handled it. The year before, their program had finally turned things around under then-coach Ralph Friegden and quarterback Danny O'Brien. They had nine wins and won their bowl game. But Friegden was fired and O'Brien wasn't far behind. When Edsall came, drama between he and his quarterback ensued as the promising starter was benched midway through last season. In the offseason, he transferred out. Since then, a voodoo hex has been put on Maryland's roster at quarterback (that's the only way some could logically explain all the injuries). But as tough as his critics have been throughout his brief time in College Park, Edsall has built a strong defense. Before arriving there, he spent 12 seasons at Connecticut, driving the Huskies through the transition of what was once called Division I-AA football to full-on Division I-A (from what is now known as FCS to FBS). At the end of that transition, the Huskies with to five bowl games, including a BCS bowl in 2010, just before he was hired at Maryland.
Maryland’s 2012 stats:
Rushing yards per game: 101.40
Passing yards per game: 182.90
Rushing yards allowed per game: 112.060
Passing yards allowed per game: 202.50
Points scored per game: 18.90
Points allowed per game: 24.00
Tackles for loss per game: 6.90
Total yards per game: 284.30
Total yards allowed per game: 315.10
Sacks allowed per game: 3.40
Maryland’s 2012 season
Week 1: Beat William & Mary, 7-6
Week 2: Beat Temple, 36-27
Week 3: Lost to Connecticut, 24-21
Week 4: Lost to West Virginia, 31-21
Week 5: Bye
Week 6: Beat Wake Forest, 19-14
Week 7: Beat Virginia, 27-20
Week 8: Lost to North Carolina State, 20-18
Week 9: Lost to Boston College, 20-17
Week 10: Lost to Georgia Tech, 33-13
Week 11: Lost to Clemson, 45-10
Stats of note from the early-season:
—Maryland ranks last in the ACC in total offense (284.3 yds per game), scoring offense (18.9 ppg), net punting 32.6 yds per punt) and sacks allowed (3.4 per game).
—Maryland ranks second in the ACC in rushing defense (112.6 yds allowed per game), total defense (315.1 yds allowed per game), pass defense (202.5 yds allowed per game) and sacks (2.5 per game). The Terrapins are behind only FSU in the ACC in rushing defense, total defense and pass defense.
—Three of Maryland's losses have been decided by three points or less. The loss to NC State came on a missed game-winning field goal attempt that hit the side of a goal post.
Players to know:
QB, Shawn Petty. At 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, Petty arrived at Maryland this summer to play linebacker. Little did the freshman know at the time, but he would soon be getting behind center. His days on defense -- for now -- were over. Due to the rash of injuries at quarterback, Petty was moved four weeks ago into the quarterback rotation. When a fourth true quarterback went down, Edsall eased the young utility player into the starting role. FSU is in a better position than Georgia Tech was. The Yellow Jackets were the first team to face Petty and they did so without the benefit of seeing film of his play. The Seminoles now have two weeks to study. All things considered, Petty has filled in as admirably as one could expect. He has thrown three touchdowns and passed for 156 yards in his two games. He also has rushed for 26 on 33 attempts. Last week's test against Clemson was a tough one. The difficulty this week against FSU's nation-leading unit are likely doubled.
RB, Wes Brown. This will be one player to watch throughout the week. Brown sat over the weekend, nursing an ankle injury. He and fellow freshman Stefon Diggs are two of the more explosive players on the team, but both missed the Clemson game. Depending upon the severity of both their injuries, the pair could be held out of the FSU game, too. Pain issues aside, though, Brown leads the Terrapins in rushing amassing 382 yards on 90 carries. He also has two touchdowns.
RB, Brandon Ross. In Brown's absence against Clemson, Ross played in just his fourth game of the season. The freshman had a strong afternoon, too, rushing for 100 yards on 16 carries. He was one of the few bright spots for the Terrapins in the five-score blowout. With Brown potentially out, Maryland is optimistic that Ross will continue surging as a playmaker. On 53 carries, he has 219 yards rushing this season. He also has no touchdowns.
WR, Stefon Diggs. As was mentioned earlier, Diggs also suffered an ankle injury ahead of last weekend's game and was held out of it. Depending upon the severity of the injury, he could miss Saturday's game, too. If he doesn't, though, the Seminoles will need to pay close attention to Diggs because of the way that he plays. One of the prized recruits of the last recruiting cycle, the freshman currently ranks fifth in the ACC in receiving. He is definitely in the conversation for conference Rookie of the Year. Through nine games he has 43 catches for 721 yards and six touchdowns. He also has 12 rushes for 71 yards. Diggs has factored in the punt return and kick return games, as well. He has one kick return for a touchdown this season.
WR, Dyrell Roberts. Used similarly to Davis, Roberts is a possibility to make plays either catching the ball or fielding it on pitches and end-around handoffs. Much like Clemson's multi-receiver offense, the Hokies predicate themselves on getting the ball into the hands of players who have the agility, speed, athleticism and shiftiness to confound opposing defenses. Roberts has eight rushes this season for 72 yards. He had five against Cincinnati alone. In the receiving game, the senior has 26 receptions for 327 yards. Injuries have marred his career. In the last two years, he has had season-ending injuries that have derailed promising starts. Before them, he had been a prolific kick returner. As a sophomore, he averaged 31.9 yards per return.
LB, Cole Farrand. Another injury the Terrapins have had this season was one to linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield. The senior had played every week until last week's game at Clemson. As they move forward without him, the Terrapins look to Farrand to pick up the hard-hitting slack. The sophomore has 63 total tackles including six for loss. He has broken up a pair of passes and forced a pair of fumbles.
DB, Dexter McDougle. Although the junior doesn't have an interception yet this season, he has had a nose for the ball, nonetheless. With five pass breakups and 56 total tackles, McDougle finds himself around the ball often. His 56 stops ranks fourth on the team behind Hartsfield, Farrand and Joe Vellano.
DL, Joe Vellano. When he leaves College Park this season, Vellano will be one of the more sought-after defensive linemen entering the NFL Draft. Like McDougle, Vellano seems to regularly find himself around the football both in the backfield and beyond the line of scrimmage. He began his college career playing defensive tackle, and while tackles aren't typically supposed to be among their team's tackle leaders, he consistently was there. This offseason after moving to a new 3-4 defensive scheme, Vellano moved to the outside as an end in the three-lineman setup. He hasn't lost a step since the switch. With 58 total tackles, the 6-foot-2, 285-pound Vellano ranks third on the team in tackles. He also has 6.0 sacks, a forced fumble and an interception.