Terps out to make history post-BC

After upset, UM seeks first win at Fla. State

November 17, 2007|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN REPORTER

College Park -- To this point, the high-water mark in Maryland's disappointing football season came on Senior Day at home in a resounding upset of Boston College.

After a week in which they rehashed that win from every possible angle, the Terps will find out what they learned and what was gained when they meet Florida State at noon today.

The exam will be administered in Tallahassee, Fla., at Doak Campbell Stadium, a test the Terps never have aced.

Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen understands the possible pratfall that awaits his team if it dwelt too long on the past.

"I'm concerned that I don't want [the Boston College game] to be the exclamation point on our season," he said. "To me, it just puts us back in the picture. It gives us an opportunity to reach our goals."

Even Friedgen seemed to savor last week's 42-35 win a little more.

"The way we played Saturday was pretty much miraculous," he said on the weekly Atlantic Coast Conference teleconference. "Guys played that I didn't think would play. Guys made plays they hadn't been making. It just shows what you can do when you keep faith and keep working."

Their work isn't done. The Terps (5-5, 2-4 ACC) need another win to become bowl-eligible. After today's game in Tallahassee, they make a trip to North Carolina State to finish the regular season.

And their injury crisis hasn't abated. Friedgen expects tailback Keon Lattimore (groin) to return, and he hopes offensive left tackle Scott Burley (ankles) and linebacker Erin Henderson (back) can hold up another week. But he's also lost wide receiver LaQuan Williams (knee) to an injury in practice.

"It is what it is," Friedgen said during the week. "Maybe we'll get another miracle."

Even though the Terps have never won in Tallahassee, it probably won't take a miracle to beat the Seminoles. Maryland has won two of the past three games in the series, including last year's 27-24 nail-biter when Jeremy Navarre blocked a potential game-tying field goal.

Then, too, Florida State (6-4, 3-4) is not the Florida State of old. The unranked Seminoles are in fifth place in the ACC's Atlantic Division, barely ahead of the last-place Terps. They're coming off a 40-21 thrashing at Virginia Tech in which their first three tailbacks and starting quarterback were knocked out of the game.

Coach Bobby Bowden resorted to practicing wide receiver Preston Parker and reserve quarterback D'Vontrey Richardson at running back this week, although it appears the team's top two tailbacks, Antone Smith and Jamaal Edwards, will be able to play.

Bowden said he believes junior quarterback Drew Weatherford, who suffered a concussion in Blacksburg, Va., last week, will be fine after a week of work.

In something of a surprise, however, Bowden installed redshirt freshman Christian Ponder as Weatherford's backup, even though Xavier Lee, a scrambling quarterback, was taken off a two-week academic suspension. Lee started against the Terps last year, passing for 286 yards and rushing for 50.

If there was a mystique to playing Florida State, it apparently doesn't register with the Terps.

"They definitely are not unbeatable," middle linebacker Dave Philistin said. "We've never beaten them in Tallahassee. That may be a concern to some people, but it's not a concern to me. I don't believe in all that."

Philistin also said he isn't concerned the Terps didn't close out Boston College the way they would have liked, allowing two late touchdowns and a 21-point lead to shrink to seven.

"I'd rather the game be in the defense's hands than the other way around," he said. "I think a lot of defensive players feel the same way."

Florida State's pressing, man-to-man defense presents a different challenge for the Terps' offense than they saw with the zone coverages of Boston College.

"You can put Boston College in some binds schematically and make plays," Friedgen said. "Here, we're going to have to win the one-on-one battles to make plays."

Bowden, in fact, paid Friedgen the ultimate compliment this week, acknowledging the job the Maryland coach did with his play calls against Boston College.

"Is there a better offensive mind in college football than him?" Bowden asked. "He'll pick you apart."

A week after the Terps pulled a shocker on Senior Day, they'll experience the other side of that emotion today in Tallahassee.

Said Philistin: "I don't want to go down there and know it's Senior Day, but all the more reason to beat them."

ken.murray@baltsun.com

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