- The Washington Times - Monday, September 9, 2002

Ready or not, here comes Florida State.
Maryland easily dispatched Akron Saturday night to ease memories of a distressing season-opening loss to Notre Dame. The Terrapins now will see if they have improved enough to compete with the fifth-ranked Seminoles a program they have never beaten in a dozen tries.
"It's like night and day," said Maryland linebacker E.J. Henderson, after the Terps zapped the Zips 44-14. "If you play good against Akron and think that's good enough to come out and play against FSU, you're making a big mistake."
Florida State (2-0) was idle this past weekend following its 40-19 thrashing of Virginia. The Seminoles finished second to Maryland in the ACC last season, but are loaded after going 8-4 in 2001. The Terps' title ended Florida State's nine-year reign over the ACC. The Seminoles are expected to return to their perch this season and pursue the national title.
"They are one of the best teams in the country," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "The fact is that they lost a lot of people [before] last year, so they had to play a lot of young people. Now, everybody is back. Last year, they had an unproven quarterback, who now is proven. I think he is a very fine quarterback. Not only is he a good thrower, but he is very elusive and had great speed."
The 'Noles returned 16 starters, including sophomore quarterback Chris Rix. Florida State tailback Greg Jones is averaging 153 yards rushing, while the ground attack is averaging 318 yards to help the offense put up 78 points in its first two games.
The Terps saw Rix destroy their perfect 7-0 record last season in Tallahassee. The quarterback shredded Maryland's secondary, passing for 350 yards and five touchdowns. With the game tied at 31-31 early in the fourth quarter, Rix put the Terps away with three long touchdown passes en route to a 52-31 victory.
Maryland's revamped secondary again will be tested by a deep and speedy group of receivers. The Terps' young defense has been the team's greatest strength, but it hasn't seen an offense the caliber of the Seminoles.
The Terps' offense will face a monumental task while it is beginning to find an identity. Quarterback Scott McBrien showed much more poise and leadership against Akron, while tailbacks Chris Downs, Mario Merrills and Jason Crawford each were effective. But that was against Akron, and star tailback and last season's ACC Offensive Player of the Year Bruce Perry likely will miss this game as he continues to rehabilitate a torn groin muscle.
It seems like a mismatch with veteran-laden Florida State facing the developing Terps. But Maryland hopes a sold-out Byrd Stadium and the experience of playing in a big game against Notre Dame will provide some of the tools to pull a major upset.
"It's a challenge," McBrien said. "But we're accepting the challenge."
Notes
Receiver Rich Parson (rib strain) and reserve defensive end Landon Jones (shoulder) were hurt against Akron and will be re-evaluated this week. Nickel back Ty Stewart, who missed last week with a groin strain, could return. 400 tickets for the Florida State game will go on sale at 10a.m. today through Ticketmaster.


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