There’s no doubt the Seminoles’ offense is far superior to any team the Terps have played thus far. The balanced FSU attack is led by redshirt freshman Jameis Winston and a trio of talented receivers. They will provide a challenge for the Maryland defense which isn’t as good as their No. 3 points against ranking might indicate.
The Maryland offense, however, might be able to find space against a Florida State defense who showed some vulnerabilities in a 48-34 victory at Boston College.
Senior quarterback C.J. Brown is exactly the type of quarterback that has given Florida State defenses fits in the past. His ability to both run and pass could be dangerous against a fast defense that has trouble over pursuing. Brown isn’t blazing fast, but has become a solid decision-maker in Maryland’s zone-read schemes. He’s second on the team with 283 rushing yards, and leads the Terps with six rushing touchdowns. He should be able to keep the defense off balance in the run game for stretches on Saturday.
However, if Maryland wants to pull off the upset, they’ll need to move the ball through the air consistently. All-everything wide receiver Stefon Diggs will certainly draw the attention of the Seminoles’ defense, but it’s almost impossible to completely shut him down. The Terps do a great job getting him the ball on screens and sweeps, and if he finds space, he’s lethal in the open field.
Don’t kid yourself, though. FSU defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt knows that the offense flows through Brown and Diggs, and will have a few different schemes to account for them. If the Terps have any real chance of winning, sophomore running back Brandon Ross and junior wide receiver Deon Long will need to play very well.
Expect to see a number of misdirection run plays and throwback screens that try to take advantage of the overly aggressive Seminoles’ defense. They’ll likely try to keep the clock in motion and try to keep Winston and the potent Noles’ offense off the field.
It will take a great effort, but the Seminoles defense can be beaten.
Slowing down Winston and Co.?
That’s another story.
B.L. is an ACC football writer who can be followed on Twitter @coachlip or on Google.