Sunday, November 18, 2007

Seminoles finish Terps

In a game that was critical to the post season hopes of both programs Florida State finally took care of Maryland 24-16 at Tallahassee and helped put the first nail in Maryland's coffin. The Terps still have a chance to get to a bowl game with a road win at NC State and a loss by Miami in Boston. Given how poorly the season has gone Maryland has to be pretty happy with those odds, though Maryland hasn't won an ACC road game since last November.

The juicy story in this loss was Ralph Friedgen's musical quarterbacks game. After Chris Turner struggled in the first half with poor reads and wild throws Fridge went with Jordan Steffy late in the second quarter. Steffy looked unprepared and panicky in his two series. It started off with a sack that was Steffy's fault, a screen pass for one yard and an incomplete on third down. His second series wasn't much better as a completion to Heyward-Bey was nullified by a penalty and Steffy ended the drive without completing another pass. Clearly Friedgen was trying to jump start the offense by replacing Turner, as if he was the only problem, but it backfired badly. All he managed to do was throw away two critical possession before halftime and annoy Turner to the point that you may as well start the transfer rumors right now. It may turn out to be one of Friedgen's all time worst game decisions. The fact that quarterback's coach John Donovan didn't even know the switch had been made adds more fuel to the fire.

Turner may have struggled and missed receivers but the line had trouble with the athletic FSU front four all day long (5 sacks) and the running game was ineffective. Friedgen's own playcalling was exactly rock solid as he called two quarterback sneaks on consecutive plays in Florida State territory late in the 3rd quarter. Then on another fourth down play on FSU's side of the field Friedgen called a screen pass that everyone on the Seminole defense knew was coming. For a man known for his innovative offense it was a pathetic series of calls. I'm not sure Friedgen will be able to accept that he is part of the problem on offense once this season is over but if he doesn't nothing will get better next year.

The defense was getting shredded by Preston Parker who seemed a step faster than anyone Maryland had on defense. Parker ended up with 133 yards on 20 carries and was the engine behind FSU's offense. Drew Weatherford didn't play much better than Chris Turner but he had the support of an effective running game whereas Turner didn't. Weatherford was solid and made the throws when he had to but Maryland did manage to pressure him and force one turnover, a fumble late in the 4th quarter. After getting blitzed in the first half the defense settled down to limit FSU to 3 points in the final two quarters. They limited the Seminoles to 2/12 on 3rd down conversions. After the third touchdown they forced FSU to punt on eight straight possessions, five of which were 3 and out possessions. Part of that was a shift to conservative playcalling from FSU but the defense did a decent job overall. The roughing the passer penalty by Moise Fokou on the last FSU drive was emblematic of the lack of focus for both sides of the ball all day.

It was good to see Joey Haynos back in the offensive game plan again and I would like to see Da'Rel Scott get more time on the field against NC State. Unfortunately both Lance Ball and Keon Lattimore have been less effective every week but the Wolfpack are weak against the run (11th in the ACC). This could turn into a shoot out as neither team has a great defense. Maryland has done a fairly good job of limiting turnovers the last few weeks and if that continues they have a decent shot to get bowl eligible.

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