It’s become evidently clear in recent weeks that, while extremely talented and not lacking potential, the Florida State defense has gotten off to some slow starts to say the least. Last week against Boston College, the unit gave all Seminoles’ fans a scare that they certainly could have done without by falling behind 17-3 in the second quarter.
Of course, the offense was able to rebound and the defense held off BC for that 48-34 victory. But, as I said last week, should these slow starts become a trend, they will eventually run into an offense that they won’t be able to rebound from, should they fall behind early.
This week’s opponent, the Maryland Terrapins, may be that first true test.
After a 4-8 season last year, the Terps are taking the college football world by storm on the offensive side of the ball in their last season of ACC play before they head off into the Big Ten sunset. They’ve scored over 30 points in each of their first four games (their longest streak of such since 2002) and are racking up just a shade under 500 yards per game.
Obviously, a lot of this success is helped by the fact that Maryland isn’t forced to use a linebacker as their QB, as injuries forced them to do last season.
QB CJ Brown returned this year and has done nothing short of a masterful job of leading this crew. Through four games, Brown has completed a little over 66% of his passes with 1,043 yards, seven touchdowns and just one interception. He’s shown a command of this explosive unit that was clearly missing last season and has given new life to this team.
But, as much of a threat as he and his receiving corps is (which we’ll get to shortly), he’s just as dangerous as a threat to put the ball down and take off. Brown is averaging 6.3 yards per carry and has six of the teams nine total rushing touchdowns. As far as yardage, the senior is averaging just a little over 70 yards per game. Brown’s talents are definitely where seeing Cody Fajardo against Nevada a few weeks ago would have come in handy.
As for the guys that Brown throws the ball to, they are quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with as well.
All-everything threat Stefon Diggs burst on to the scene last season as a true freshman and hasn’t missed a beat this year, especially having a solid quarterback in the backfield. Diggs has 18 catches so far for 400 yards with three scores. But what also helps is that this season, there’s a solid number two option on the other side of him in JUCO transfer WR Deon Long (21 catches, 272 yards, one TD).
Brandon Ross in the backfield, while not putting up video game-like numbers, is an effective piece in this offense. Ross has accounted for 332 yards and two scores, but is a huge threat to catch the ball out of the backfield. It should also be noted that FSU had a problem early on last week containing BC running back Andre Williams. If the defense is overly-worried about the MD passing attack, Ross could end up having himself a breakout game.
Overall, this offense is about as balanced and effective as you can find, regardless of who they’ve played through their first four. They’re averaging over 226 yards on the ground and 271 through the air.
Maryland has never won a game in Tallahassee, FL. But, that could change if the guys in this group have anything to say about–especially if the Seminoles’ defense has another slow jump start.