Seminoles aren't what Terps need

Shaky defense, new QB get ready for No. 1

November 13, 1999|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- This is not a good time for Maryland to be challenging the No. 1 collegiate football machine on its home turf.

Unbeaten Florida State looks like a team that is ready to erupt, while the Terps seem to be reverting to their old chaos in the secondary.

The Maryland defense has been kicked around so much in three of the past four games that coach Ron Vanderlinden held a five-hour meeting this week in an attempt to solve some of the problems.

Maryland (5-4) also has lost starting quarterback Calvin McCall for the rest of the season with a torn medial collateral ligament, and inside linebacker Kevin Bishop is out for six months with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

But today's 3: 30 p.m. show against the Seminoles (9-0) on regional ABC-TV must go on, and sophomore outside linebacker Aaron Thompson is more than ready to tackle the seemingly impossible task.

"There would be nothing greater than to bounce back against the No. 1 team in the country," said Thompson, who played three years at Forest Park and one at Mount St. Joseph. "We're not going down to Florida State to give them a good game or just show up and say, `Well, Maryland didn't look that bad, or Maryland played them well.' We're going down there to win."

Thompson knows what he and the Terps are getting into.

"You look at Florida State, and you know they have weapons," he said. "Lots of weapons all over the field. They have good linemen, a solid quarterback [Chris Weinke], great receivers [Peter Warrick and Ron Dugans] and a good running back [Travis Minor]. They have the total package."

That is just on the offensive side of the ball that Thompson has to be concerned about.He is Maryland's second-leading tackler with 97 and has closed the gap on Marlon Moore (108).

Defensively, the Seminoles are loaded, as usual, with former Dunbar High standout Tommy Polley leading all tacklers with 82 from his weak-side linebacker position.

Florida State nose guard Corey Simon has 68 tackles.

Thompson's brave words came a few minutes this week after Vanderlinden heaped praise on the Seminoles.

"They really are in a league by themselves," he said. "There are only two to three to possibly five teams in the country that can really match these guys' talent. They [other schools] can throw well enough and protect long enough, and they have skilled athletes good enough to get open to make plays against Florida State."

Vanderlinden said last year that he would "just like to have some of Florida State's guys who get on the practice field but never play in a game." That is reality.

For the Terps, freshman Latrez Harrison gets his first collegiate start under what appear to be impossible circumstances.

"I'm not nervous about sending Latrez out there," Vanderlinden said. "I'm anxious to watch him play. I can't imagine a true freshman having a more challenging first start."

Vanderlinden said he would have to limit what the Terps will do because of Harrison's inexperience.

"It's a tough game to have to limit our package, audible-wise, because you want to have every advantage you can in a game like this," Vanderlinden said.

Harrison said he would be "reading just half the field" as McCall did.

And why does Florida State look like a boiling volcano?

The Seminoles had to rally to beat Clemson, 17-14, three weeks ago for coach Bobby Bowden's 300th victory, and they've struggled a little against Miami (31-21), Wake Forest (33-10) and Virginia (35-10).

Warrick missed the Miami and Wake Forest games due to a suspension after charges of grand theft at a clothing department store. The felony charges created quite a storm around the Florida State program and ruined Warrick's high Heisman Trophy hopes.

Warrick later pleaded guilty to petty theft, a misdemeanor, and avoided jail time, receiving instead a year's probation, 30 days in a work program, being ordered to donate the clothes to the Children's Home Society and paying $579 restitution and $295 court costs.

"I wish we could pick up where we left off before all those distractions," Bowden said. "We are pretty fresh for a change, having a week off before this game."

Terps today

Opponent: No. 1 Florida State

Site: Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, Fla.

Time: 3: 30 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 2/WBAL (1090 AM)

Line: Florida State by 33

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