NCF Nation: College Park 0813

FSU's defense the difference

November, 23, 2008
11/23/08
1:16
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Florida State defensive end Everette Brown held up his index finger, indicating No. 1 as he ran towards the Seminoles' fans in the stands who had lingered in the bitter cold Saturday at Byrd Stadium.

He should have held up three fingers -- one for each sack he made.

Technically, Brown had 3.5 sacks. It was the third time this season he has had at least three sacks in a game, and in the 37-3 win over Maryland, Brown led an aggressive pass rush that frustrated quarterback Chris Turner all night. It was a turnaround performance on defense that was lacking in last week's 27-17 loss to Boston College, and a major reason why Florida State still has a sliver of a chance at playing in the ACC championship game.

 
 James Lang/US Presswire
 Seminoles defensive end Everette Brown brought down Terrapins running back Da'Rel Scott and forced a fumble. Brown also recorded 3.5 sacks.

"That's the way it used to be," Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said of his defense. "That's the way we used to play. I thought we'd forgotten how."

Against Boston College, they did, and it cost them dearly.

Maryland has a similar-sized offensive line as the Eagles, but the Terps paved the way for Brown and Co. They got beat on spin moves, didn't make their blocks and were sloppy on fundamentals. As a result, Turner was sacked six times and FSU had 10 tackles for a loss of 53 yards.

"We did a better job tonight of just attacking, playing Florida State football," Brown said. "We knew they were similar to Boston College coming into the game and if we let them get going, give them momentum, they're a tough offensive line, but tonight we wanted to make sure we attacked and controlled the line of scrimmage up front."

Defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews challenged his defense after the loss to the Eagles, told them they got "pushed around out there" and said they needed to be more physical. He pointed out that they had only scored one touchdown all season, and even that changed against Maryland when Derek Nicholson ran a fumble recovery back 22 yards for a touchdown.

"The kids responded real well," Andrews said. "We felt like they had a blocking scheme that would free our ends up and then maybe a tackle and we got to them several times. Guys doing their jobs."

The Florida State defense has a motto they revert to following a poor performance: "Somebody's gotta pay."

"When we go out there and have a horrible game like we did last week," linebacker Kenny Ingram said, "somebody's gotta pay. We came out there and we played a great defensive game."

Turner was the one who wound up paying most of the night, as he was sacked six times. This has become a trend for FSU, as the Noles did the same thing to Clemson quarterback Cullen Harper.

Turner, who entered the game having thrown just six interceptions all season and not one in his past 123 attempts, had two against FSU.

"He's a player," Turner said of Brown. "He has a pretty good future ahead of him. We game planned for him. We were trying to double team him most of the night. There were a few times where we put our left tackle on an island. Every now and then he's going to get you and he got us a few times."

Six to be exact.

"They definitely got into us a lot tonight," said center Edwin Williams. "I guess we weren't ready. We didn't expect that."

Maryland falls to the occasion

November, 23, 2008
11/23/08
12:55
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- None of the wins over ranked teams matter now.

Not when Maryland couldn't beat the unranked team that mattered most.

Good teams are consistent, take care of business at home, and win the games they have to win.

In Saturday's 37-3 loss to Florida State, the Terps swung and missed in all three categories, and because of that, they're out.

For the second time in three years, Maryland squandered its opportunity to win the Atlantic Division. For anyone paying any attention to the Terps this season -- or even in the past few -- it shouldn't come as a complete surprise. They rise and fall to the occasion.

Even Bobby Bowden expected it.

 
 AP Photo/Rob Carr
 Maryland quarterback Chris Turner absorbed six sacks and was picked off twice in Maryland's 37-3 loss to Florida State.

"To be honest with you, I had a feeling that their win last week might hurt them in regard to this week," Bowden said of Maryland's 17-15 upset of North Carolina. "I think that teams play tougher when they come off of a loss and they won last week, beating a heck of a football team. I thought we might catch them a little flat."

Flat on their backs. Quarterback Chris Turner was sacked six times and pressured all night. Florida State controlled the line of scrimmage for four quarters -- something the Noles couldn't do in last week's costly home loss to Boston College. They beat Maryland's defense with their speed and athleticism.

Maryland's offense was woeful. The Terps had one yard rushing in the first half. The defense was inviting. It was the first time Maryland lost in Byrd Stadium all season, but it wasn't just that they lost, it was how they lost badly on senior night when a trip to the ACC championship game was at stake.

"It just boggles my mind how we played so poorly in such a big game," coach Ralph Friedgen said.

For all of the hype surrounding Maryland's ability to beat ranked teams and play their best against the best, the Terps inability to win when it matters most has been overlooked.

In 2006, Maryland also could have won the Atlantic Division with a win over Boston College but lost. They were given yet a second chance and still could have won the division with a win over Wake Forest, but lost in the season finale. At home.

"It's tough," Turner said. "It's real tough. I don't know what else to say. We had an opportunity and we didn't capitalize on it. It's a little bit of déjà vu, but there's nothing I can do about it right now."

Now, when the Terps travel to Chestnut Hill next week to face Atlantic Division-leading Boston College, it will be for a more lucrative bowl game, not a trip to the ACC championship game.

It's an average season, something Maryland fans have gotten used to.

Since taking over the program in 2001, Friedgen has gone to five bowl games and won three of them. He has won one ACC title. Since divisional play started in 2005, though, Maryland has had just one winning season and finished better than fourth place in the ACC just once -- a second-place finish in 2006.

The Terps have defeated five ranked teams dating back to last season and can make it six next weekend at Boston College.

The time to rise to the occasion, though, has already passed. Again.

Final: FSU 27, Maryland 3

November, 22, 2008
11/22/08
11:06
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Maryland played itself right out of the Atlantic Division race, and let the Seminoles back in. Once again, Florida State rebounded from a loss and took care of business. The Noles now need Maryland to beat BC on the road next week and they're in the ACC championship.

Maryland could not protect quarterback Chris Turner all night, couldn't get any offense going, and couldn't stop FSU's speedy playmakers.

Maryland lost its first game at home this season and FSU won in Byrd Stadium for the first time since 2002.

I'm heading down to interviews now, check back later.

3Q update: FSU 24, Maryland 3

November, 22, 2008
11/22/08
10:11
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Status quo here in Byrd Stadium. Maryland still isn't going anywhere on offense, and FSU is blazing past Maryland's defense with its superior speed.

Fans are starting to trickle out of Byrd Stadium, and the "blackout" is turning into empty stands. Florida State looks like a different team than it did last week in the loss to Boston College, and Maryland looks like it did a few weeks ago in their loss to Virginia Tech.

The Terps are en route to their first loss in Byrd Stadium all season.

Halftime: FSU 21, Maryland 0

November, 22, 2008
11/22/08
9:26
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- There hasn't been much of a home field advantage this weekend in the ACC (Virginia lost at home, as did Wake Forest and UNC), and Byrd Stadium is keeping with the trend. Maryland's offense has been nonexistent in the first half, as the Terps weren't able to get anything going on the ground (1 yard rushing), and the FSU defense is smothering quarterback Chris Turner.

FSU defensive end Everette Brown is one of Turner's biggest problems. Brown has sacked him two and a half times already, and pressured him into one of his two interceptions. Brown is by far one of the best defensive ends in the ACC, and is proving it again tonight. Turnovers have also been a factor, as FSU scored off a fumble.

The difference has been up front, where Florida State is controlling the line of scrimmage. While the Noles have had an aggressive pass rush most of the season, this is also a subpar performance for Maryland's veteran offensive line, which has three seniors playing their last game in Byrd Stadium.

After winning a Rhodes Scholarship, FSU safety Myron Rolle arrived with just under 11 minutes in the second quarter, and actually jogged onto the sideline with 6:23 still left in the half. He waved his arms in the air and elicited a loud cheer from Seminoles fans, the majority of which are seated near the visitors' locker room. He entered the game with about 1:30 left.

With the way things are looking, Rolle should be 2-for-2 today.

1Q update: Maryland 0, FSU 0

November, 22, 2008
11/22/08
8:26
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

COLLEGE PARK, Md., -- FSU is rotating quarterbacks, and while both of them have struggled, FSU has also benefited from both sets of feet.

Both teams are moving the ball and sustaining drives but coming up short. Watch No. 99, FSU defensive end Everette Brown. If Maryland can keep him off Chris Turner, the Terps' chances of winning will increase. So far they've had right guard Phil Costa, left tackle Bruce Campbell and tight end Dan Gronkowski tie him up. The one time Brown got loose, Turner was sacked for a loss of 10 yards and a drive ended.

FSU safety Myron Rolle is less than 20 minutes away. He must've gotten in early.

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