With the Maryland Terrapins football team tying the team’s win total from 2012 in their first four games this year, things were looking up and it appeared as though the Terps could potentially run with one of the big boys like Saturday’s opponent in Florida State.
Unfortunately, Maryland was served a dose of harsh reality as they were absolutely manhandled by a physical Seminoles team 63-0. The Terps will depart the ACC for the B1G without having ever won at Doak Campbell Stadium. It also was the worst loss for Maryland since a 70-7 drubbing at the hands of Penn State in 1993.
Early in the first half, things weren’t as bad as many might have thought if they were just looking at the final score. Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston did lead his team down the field on a 10-play, 77-yard scoring drive to start off the game, with running back Devonta Freeman finding the end zone. Maryland was able to hold their own on the defensive side of the ball and forced Florida State to punt on their next three possessions.
However, the Terps couldn’t establish any semblance of consistency in the first half. On their first three drives, Maryland did get a nice pickups through the air with running back Brandon Ross and newly healthy wide receiver Nigel King. On the final play of the opening quarter, quarterback C.J. Brown throw a beautiful pass to wide receiver Deon Long for a 39-yard gain just inside the Seminole 35-yard line. Unfortunately, the Terps were unable to come away with any points as kicker Brad Craddock missed a 51-yard field goal attempt off the right upright.
That’s where things went south for Maryland.
With 10:26 remaining in the second quarter until the drive that started with 8:23 left in the final quarter, the Seminoles scored touchdowns on eight consecutive drives. Winston had five passing touchdowns during that span and was eventually pulled in favor of backup quarterback Jacob Coker.
To make matters worse, Brown was knocked out of the game, courtesy of a violent hit from Florida State defensive lineman Jacobbi McDaniel. It was a play that could have drawn a penalty flag for a late hit and possibly put the Terps on the scoreboard. Maryland coach Randy Edsall confirmed what many feared following the game and said that Brown did suffer a concussion. The Pennsylvania signal caller will be re-evaluated this week and his status is uncertain for next Saturday’s game against Virginia.
Despite a 4-0 start, Maryland was harshly brought back down to earth on Saturday afternoon. The Terps hadn’t faced a quarterback even close to the caliber of Winston and it showed. Not having cornerbacks Dexter McDougle and Jeremiah Johnson hurt in a big way. Florida State had big days from wideouts Rashad Greene, Kenny Shaw, and Kelvin Benjamin who had at least 60 yards apiece. Shaw was used in a variety of different ways and used his quickness to get to the next level and into the Terps secondary. Benjamin made it look easy as he hauled in a pair of touchdown passes from Winston.
As bad as this game was, Maryland isn’t as bad of a football team as they showed on Saturday. In flashes, the Terps front seven still was able to create a little bit of pressure and get to Winston. They did fail to bring him down on first contact several times, so defensive coordinator Brian Stewart’s comparison of Winston to Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was pretty accurate. The likes of linebackers Marcus Whitfield and Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil will bounce back against Virginia next week and should be able to bring a little bit more pressure.
It’ll also be a learning experience for the defensive backs as cornerbacks Issac Goins and Will Likely failed to keep up with the Florida State wideouts. It’s a challenge that they hadn’t seen before and it wasn’t surprising to see them get burned on a few occasions.
The one storyline to watch this coming week will be if Brown can play against the Cavaliers next Saturday. Quarterback Caleb Rowe didn’t look bad in relief. He did manage to come in on third down and threw a beautiful strike to Long for a first down. That was one of only two third-down conversions in the entire game for the Terps (they had 15 attempts). Rowe finished 9-for-17 for 119 yards in relief of Brown and looked comfortable at times running the offense.
It was a humbling loss for a team that was flying high after four games. But with being only two games short of being bowl eligible after these past two brutal season, it’s something that Maryland fans should be proud of. They should rebound and still turn in a productive season.