In a highly anticipated matchup of 4-0 teams, the Noles shut down the Maryland attack during FSU’s 63-0 obliteration of the 25th ranked Terps.
From start to finish, the Noles made it hard on a Maryland offense that had played well to start the season. Not only did they devastate them on the scoreboard, they beat them up physically as well.
In fact, starting quarterback C.J. Brown was knocked out of the game in the second quarter after being destroyed by Seminole defensive tackle Jacobbi McDaniel. Truthfully, McDaniel easily could have been called for a late hit on the play as it looked like he took two steps and hit Brown after he delivered the deep pass. Maryland head coach Randy Edsall appeared to be complaining about the fact that McDaniel led with the crown of his helmet too.
Either way, the play was a microcosm of the frustrating day for the Terps offense. Standout wide receiver Stefon Diggs was held to just two catches and 24 yards on the day. Although senior cornerback Lamarcus Joyner was man to man on him for a majority of the day, defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt threw a few other looks at him as well.
Early in the game, linebacker Telvin Smith carried Diggs down the seam and did a nice job getting into his field of vision to force a drop. Later, Smith jammed Diggs early in his route before passing him off to bracket coverage on the back end. It was tough for Diggs to find space, and inevitably, without his production, the offense sputtered.
The Noles held the Terps to 234 yards of offense and a woeful 2-15 on third down conversions. It seemed like every time you looked up, Maryland was in third and long, and that’s not going to work against this Seminoles defense.
Much of the attention will focus on Jameis Winston and the explosive offense. But if the Noles want to pull off the shocker and have a chance to compete for the ACC title, it will come down to the defense.
B.L. is an ACC football writer for Rant Sports and can be followed on Twitter @coachlip or on Google.