- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 3, 2003

Gary Blackney’s scouting report is simple: There are no soft spots in the Florida State Seminoles.

“There’s no place you can say take away this or that, because they attack you on so many fronts with so many fine athletes,” said Maryland’s defensive coordinator. “I can’t imagine a much more athletic quarterback. Great receivers, good size and great speed. Running backs are awesome. Offensive line is young but not inexperienced and always tough.”

Translation: The Terrapins can’t cheat defensively, and they face a very tough task in stopping the No.11 Seminoles on Saturday night in Tallahassee.

The Terps can’t regularly stack an extra safety into the run defense for fear the Seminoles will throw deep. They can’t play the nickel against the pass consistently without risking long scrambles by quarterback Chris Rix and big gains by running backs Greg Jones and Lorenzo Booker.

Florida State (1-0) scored three quick touchdowns in its 37-0 victory over North Carolina on Saturday. Rix ran for two touchdowns and threw for a third. Booker and Jones combined for 150 yards on 19 carries. The Seminoles simply overwhelmed the Tar Heels.

“I don’t ever remember doing that good the first game of the year offensively,” Bobby Bowden said of his 28 years as coach of the Seminoles. “First quarters don’t usually go that way. You go into a ball game and sometimes after three series, you realize certain things won’t work and you go to other things. It seemed [against North Carolina] the things that our offensive staff wanted to do, they did.”

Blackney must quickly solve the Seminoles for the Terps to avoid an 0-2 start that could squash any hopes of reaching a major bowl. Maryland can counter with a solid secondary and versatile linebackers, but its line needs to penetrate quickly or the back seven will be compromised.

“Stay in the middle and just react,” safety Madieu Williams said. “We’ll try to mix it up and keep them off balance.”

Bowden expects Maryland to play mostly gap coverage and not use gimmicks in an effort to confuse the Florida State offense. The strategy belies the Terps’ confidence in winning individual matchups.

“Maryland will sit in their defense more and play an area a little more where North Carolina seemed to move around more and give different looks to confuse you,” Bowden said.

Maryland was off balance in its 20-13 overtime loss at Northern Illinois on Aug.28. The Terps held Huskies running back Michael Turner to 90 yards on 30 carries, but they were regularly beaten for first downs on slants over the middle. Given the speed of Florida State’s receivers, those short completions quickly could turn into long gains.

“Every time we played Florida State, it reminds me of being in the NFL,” coach Ralph Friedgen said. “They have a lot of kids that can run.”

However, Florida State’s style is more that of a big-play gambler.

Receiver Craphonso Thorpe, one of the ACC’s fastest players, opened with seven catches against North Carolina. Receiver Chris Davis grabbed four as 10 Seminoles had receptions.

Bowden rattled off a list of several “gamebreakers” — and he noted the presence of Jones as a “jawbreaker” for his helmet-clearing hit of North Carolina’s Dexter Reid. Booker is a scatback runner; Jones simply overpowers defenders.

“Those are guys who can break up a game,” Bowden said. “We’ve got more at one time than we’ve had in a long time.”

Said Blackney: “Their M.O. is to go over top of you. They can work a possession passing game and move down methodically, but they like to strike it rich.”

Note — Receiver Steve Suter (hamstring) and running back Bruce Perry (high ankle sprain) could play against Florida State after improving yesterday. Suter seems the more probable after practicing. Perry was encouraged despite continued pain. Both players have been idled since Aug.5. Guard Ed Tyler (leg) will return after missing one game.

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