C.J. Brown missed most of the second half to injury, Devonta Freeman and Jermaine Thomas combined for 186 yards on the ground, and the Florida St. Seminoles defeated the Maryland Terrapins with relative ease, winning 41-16 in a game in which they were never seriously threatened. Florida State is back above .500 with a 4-3 record, while Maryland falls to 2-5, meaning they need to finish 4-1 to make a bowl game - and that slate includes games against Notre Dame, Wake Forest, and N.C. State.
Maryland didn't necessarily play a bad game here, but they certainly didn't play a great one. They're outclassed athletically by Florida State across the board, position-for-position, and it showed. They couldn't do what they wanted to do offensively, and, for much of the game, were dictated to defensively. This was a simple case of a lesser team failing to play above their heads against a much better squad.
The real story is going to be the budding quarterback controversy, which is revisiting College Park for another week of speculation. A helmet-to-helmet hit to Brown by Nigel Bradham forced him out of the game mid-way through the third quarter, and O'Brien ended up playing the next two quarters. He did lead two touchdown drives - Maryland's only ones of the afternoon - and showcased a pretty deep ball that Maryland's offense has been lacking as of late, which was enough for a sizable portion of the fanbase to jump back on the DOB bandwagon. More on that in a sec.
A quickie game recap: Florida St. got the ball to start off, and promptly went 62 yards for a score on a 7-yard E.J. Manuel run. A 26-yard touchdown pass from Manuel to Kenny Shaw gave the Seminoles a 14-0 lead midway through the first, and things appeared to be more or less done in Tallahassee. Maryland's defense made a few surprising stands in the second quarter, including a Dexter McDougle interception, to hold the Seminoles to 17 points in the first half. A well-run two-minute drill by Maryland at the end of the second half resulted in a short Nick Ferrara field goal to cut the lead to 17-3 going into half.
The second half, unfortunately, brought no better tidings. Maryland's first second-half drive stalled, and C.J. Brown was injured by a helmet-to-helmet hit on their second. Danny O'Brien came in and had a few nice throws, but the drive died quickly and the Terps were forced to punt it away. FSU, obviously tasting blood at this point, drove right down the field and took a 24-3 lead on a 35-yard Jermaine Thomas run.
On O'Brien's third drive, though, Maryland finally got some momentum going, with a 67-yard pass to Quintin McCree that set up a five-yard touchdown run by O'Brien, of all players. Florida State, however, scored on their next three drives while Maryland's offense stalled, effectively putting the game out of reach. O'Brien had two deep passes with about 30 seconds to go that resulted in a garbage time TD, but it was very obviously too little, too late.
It's tough to pick out any one area that lost Maryland the game today, because there wasn't one. They were simply outclassed, right across the board. The offensive line couldn't block, even against three-man fronts; runners couldn't find the corner against quicker defenders; defenders missed tackles against quicker, stronger foes; and so on and so forth. Like I said, Maryland just got beaten today by a much more talented foe. It's tough to really "blame" any one aspect of the team, or coaching staff.
Again, the story of the game will undoubtedly be the reignited quarterback controversy between O'Brien and Brown. CJ only claimed the starting job last week, and O'Brien's comparatively strong performance this week will without a doubt inflame the fanbase's calls for him. It'll also make Randy Edsall and Gary Crowton do some real thinking. We'll, of course, have some more on that as the week goes on, but the early thought from me: I'm pretty ambivalent. FSU was a fantastic defense that was a bad fit for C.J. Brown's skillset, and it was one that wasn't prepared for Danny O'Brien's arm. Danny played well, but not so well as to make the job automatically his: the first touchdown drive was largely the result of a fantastic effort from Quintin McCree, while the second one came in the closing seconds against a team that had its second-stringers in and had already mentally checked out.
Again, more on that later in the week, plus more coming up tomorrow with the stock report and helmet stickers. Big thought of the day: Maryland is somewhat significantly better than their 2-5 record and has a brighter future than anyone is willing to admit, but it's getting increasingly difficult and frustrating to see that - or, really, to be a Terp fan nowadays at all.