On ground or via pass, FSU offense formidable

But Terps defense focused on stopping the run first

Maryland notebook

College Football

September 11, 2002|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen yesterday produced a laundry list regarding the Florida State offense his team will face Saturday night.

Veteran offensive line. Blocking fullback. Tailbacks who gain nearly 8 yards per carry. A quarterback who is elusive. Receivers as fast as any the Terrapins will play this year.

"They're pretty good on offense, and I've been watching them all day on offense," Friedgen said during his weekly news conference.

So far this season, Greg Jones and Nick Maddox have combined for 404 yards on a mere 56 carries for the No. 5 Seminoles (2-0), who are looking for their 13th win in as many tries against unranked Maryland (1-1).

And while Florida State quarterback Chris Rix has had his troubles this season (three interceptions against only two touchdown passes), he is the same quarterback who scorched the Terps for three touchdowns in the fourth quarter of last year's 52-31 runaway in Tallahassee.

"Do you gang up on the running game and then leave those wide receivers one-on-one with your secondary, or do you try to give your secondary help and try to hold up in the running game?" Friedgen said.

His team will have to solve this problem in front of a sold-out crowd at Byrd Stadium. "What would you suggest?" he said. "See my problem?"

Maryland's chief concern is its secondary, which has struggled against Florida State and similar teams.

As a freshman, Rix threw for 350 yards and five touchdowns against Maryland last year. Given a second shot against a similar team, the Terps allowed 456 passing yards against Florida in the Orange Bowl.

"We know what we have going in," Friedgen said, "so we're going to try to make some adjustments there, and not just get matched up one-on-one if you can help it, but that means that you have to be able to stop the run."

That could be a tough chore. Every starter on last year's Florida State offensive line has returned, and the team ranks third nationally with 318 rushing yards per game.

In the team's last game, Jones ran for 173 yards on 21 carries during a 40-19 win over Virginia on Aug. 31. Thus, stopping Jones, Maddox and company is the main task for the Terps.

"Defensively, I definitely think we've got to stop the run," said senior linebacker E.J. Henderson. "We need to make them one-dimensional and make them put the ball in the air. The past two games, they've tried to run the ball down your throat, and then that opens up the passing game."

Perry doubtful

Bruce Perry, Offensive Player of the Year in the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2001, is itching to play against the Seminoles. However, Friedgen is predicting that his star back will not perform until Sept. 21 against Eastern Michigan.

Perry, who suffered a groin injury 10 days before the season opener against Notre Dame, was in uniform for Saturday's Akron game. He also participated the past two days by running at half-speed, though Friedgen said he'd like to use caution.

"This is a long season," Friedgen said. "I think Bruce wants to play very badly. He was out practicing with us last night on some things. But if he were to tear that again, we would lose him for the season, and we have a lot of season left to play."

Et cetera

Slot back Rich Parsons is questionable for Saturday's game after suffering cartilage damage in his ribs. ... Steve Suter (North Carroll) leads the ACC in kickoff returns, averaging 28.7 yards to rank 12th nationally. He also ranks second in the league and 16th nationally in punt returns with an 18.3 average.

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