The ACC-schedulers didn't do the Terps any favors (surprise!) by scheduling our toughest opponent as the first ACC series in our swan song year. For a long time the Seminoles owned Maryland, having won > 30 straight games during regular season play. Things started to change in 2011 when David Carroll and Brady Kirkpatrick combined to shut out FSU 5 - 0. In 2012 the Terps came back from an early 4 - 0 hole to beat then #1 ranked FSU 8 - 5 on national TV. Last year Maryland beat FSU in game 1 by a 5 - 3 score, then lost the last two games 7 - 6 and 4 - 3. With the Terps' play so far in 2014 there's reason for optimism if we don't get rattled by the 6,000+ crowd at Dick Howser stadium.
Make no mistake: the Seminoles are very, very good. They're ranked #2 in the CBN poll and the USA Today/Coaches poll, getting seven first place votes in the latter. Currently their record is 10 - 1, the only loss being 3 - 1 at home against Miami. (Note: in the ACC's immense wisdom they didn't schedule FSU vs. Miami in both teams' ACC schedule. However they allowed them to play a series that would count in their overall records, but not in their ACC records. Clear as mud?) FSU is averaging 9.3 runs per game, and their average margin of victory is an incredible 6.3 runs.
I traded questions with RaysnNoles of FSU's Tomahawk Nation. Below are his answers. You can read my replies to his questions when he submits his series analysis on Friday.
Jose Brizuela and D. J. Stewart are studs. Given the Seminoles ability to score runs, what other hitters are making big contributions?
The Florida State lineup is normally very difficult top to bottom and this year is no different as the 2 through 7 hitters all have a .430 on-base percentage or better. The Noles were extremely excited when SS Justin Gonzalez announced he was returning for a red shirt senior year after a season ending injury in 2013 that allowed him to play only the first five games. As the captain of the team he provides leadership, a solid glove at short and a great bat thus far. He leads the nation in walks (14) and leads the team with a .540 on-base percentage.
Another dynamic player for the Seminoles is freshman centerfielder Ben DeLuzio, who was drafted in the 3rd round by the Marlins last June. Head Coach Mike Martin wasn't shy when comparing him to former players J.D. Drew and Shane Robinson, both MLB players and both won the Golden Spikes award for best collegiate baseball player. Early in the season DeLuzio has been perfect on the base paths (5/5) and shown the ability to cover a lot of ground in the outfield as he might be the fastest baseball player the Noles have seen in a long time. Even more impressive his how he has looked at the plate so far this season, he is striking out twice as much as he walks but a .297/.381/.405 line from the 8th spot in the lineup is something every team in the country would love to have.
Mike Compton had a monster freshman year, then missed all of last season due to Tommy John surgery. How does he look so far this year?
As you said the right handed Compton was a Freshman All-American in 2012 and was sidelined in 2013 with an arm injury. Everyone is excited to have him back this season as he will complete one of the best weekend rotations in the country.
So far in 2014 the red-shirt sophomore has looked solid in his only 2 appearances, his start against Georgia was cancelled due to rain. This did allow him to throw an inning against the Yankees in an exhibition game where he threw a clean frame. His first start against Niagara University he threw 5 shutout innings allowing only a single while striking out 3 and allowing 2 walks. Pretty good after a year layoff. In his most recent outing versus Miami he was less sharp allowing 3 runs over 5 innings on 6 hits. Two of the three runs allowed came on a two run home-run so overall he pitched well despite walking two and striking out four. There is not a series this season where he won't be the better starting pitcher on Sunday.
I had to ask a Famous Jameis question: Is this guy the real deal in baseball? Why would Jimbo Fisher allow him to play baseball given the chance he could injure himself and miss football?
Baseball America had a great write up before the season started on how Jameis would fare as a prospect that I would suggest you read. (Link here). His primary role right now is as the closer and I am sure he will have great success in this role but I feel his biggest contribution can be made as a middle reliever like he did last season. There he has the ability to relieve in any situation and could be extended further than one inning if needed. But for now he closes, occasionally pinch hits and plays the outfield. He will never live up to his potential in those roles due to the lack practice and reps he gets by sharing time with football.
Baseball is the reason that Winston chose Florida State and Winston is the reason that Florida State won a National Title in football. Assistant Coach Mike Martin, Jr. and football coach Jimbo Fisher are best friends and together they ensured Jameis that his dream of playing two sports would be a reality and they owe it to him to keep their promise. I am of the feeling that the kid has earned the right to play both and if he is injured on the diamond that it's just bad luck. Luckily now the positions he plays minimizes his risk of injury.
(Thanks RaysnNoles for not bringing up the last time Maryland sent a ranked team to Tallahassee to face Winston & Co.)
UPDATE: Here are the pitching match-ups courtesy of UM Terps Sports
Game 1 (Friday), 6 p.m.: Sr. RHP Jake Stinnett (2-1, 1.23 ERA) vs. Jr. RHP Luke Weaver (2-1, 2.12 ERA)
Game 2 (Saturday), 2 p.m.: Fr. RHP Mike Shawaryn (3-0, 0.54 ERA) vs. Jr. LHP Brandon Leibrandt (2-0, 2.04 ERA)
Game 3 (Sunday), 11 a.m. : So. RHP Jared Price (1-1, 5.27 ERA) vs. R So. RHP Mike Compton (1-0, 2.70 ERA)