The Maryland Terrapins football team (7-3, 4-2 ACC) is on its way toward an Atlantic Division championship, and maybe their biggest hurdle toward that goal is the Florida State Seminoles (7-3, 5-2 ACC).
And FSU’s coach, first-year coach Jimbo Fisher, joined “The Morning Reaction” Wednesday to preview the hurdle in front of his squad that Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen is showing right now.
“‘They’re doing a great job,” Fisher said. “Ralph’s a very good football coach, and their staff and him have done a really great job. The kids are really playing well.”
Both teams come in with identical 7-3 records, with Maryland standing at 4-2 in the ACC and the Seminoles with a record of 5-2.
Maryland and the Terps’ next opponent, N.C. State, control their own destinies from this point on.
Maryland may be the benefactor of an easy schedule this year, but for the Seminoles, the team in College Park is another ACC opponent and a big rivalry game on the road that they can’t take for granted.
Maryland has the biggest turnaround in the ACC(+5), and Maryland’s offense has scored 40 or more points four times this year.
And ultimately, Fisher already knows what the key is to stopping Maryland’s progress. And it all hangs on the play of freshman Terps quarterback Danny O’Brien, who recently threw for 289 yards and two scores in Maryland’s 42-23 victory over the Virginia Cavaliers.
O’Brien currently has 1,571 yards on the season and has averaged 213 ypg in his seven starts.
“I remember him in high school,” Fisher said. “I saw him and liked him a bunch. I really did.”
“He has big arm talent like you said, very accurate, who has the instincts, pocket presence, throws the ball where it’s got to go, in a hurry, is a leader, and he has all the intangibles. He’s made a difference, and they’ve done a great job playing around.”
Fisher said it’s been a difficult look for him to evaluate the Terps, as it seems game-in and game-out Maryland seems to either run all over their opponent or throw the ball over the top.
The inconsistency has challenged Fisher’s defense in practice this week.
“Ralph makes up a lot of different looks, they run the option, and they do a lot of different things. So they will have all the facets they need, but quarterback has really made a big change for them,” Fisher noted.
Fisher said he has his own plans to balance the Seminoles attack against the Terps on Saturday to avoid a Maryland defense capable of grabbing turnovers.
Maryland has 15 interceptions on the season-the most for the Terps since 2002-and eight of them have come from their linebacking corps of Adrian Moten, Alex Wujciak, Demetrius Hartsfield, and Ryan Donohue.
“I’ve always believed in balance,” Fisher replied. “You have to be able to throw it, and you have to be able to run it. If you can’t do both, good teams will eventually shut you down and we’ll watch you go in and play good defense.”
” They do a good job…Maryland creates a lot of turnovers, and I think that’s one of the things they realize they’re doing well. They’re plus-13 in the turnover ratio, and they do a tremendous job of getting turnovers on defense.”
The news Thursday around College Park was that Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen would be returning for an 11th season.
Friedgen joined the elite coaching ranks of the ACC as he recently became only the 13th head coach conference history to amass 70 career wins.
Fisher threw a lot of respect toward his counterpart, but Forrester also asked Jimbo Fisher what it was like to replace a legend in his own right.
Fisher was the coach in-waiting for the Seminoles (a similar situation with Terps offensive coordinator James Franklin under Friedgen) behind longtime coach Bobby Bowden, who spent 33 years on the sidelines at Florida State.
Fisher said there has been a lot of pressure on him to perform-which he has so far this year-but still it’s always tough being the first guy to get the coaching gig after a living legend at an institution moves on.
“It’s been really good,” Fisher said. “Bowden was a legend. He was a hero and he was my hero. We were very close, and it’s been very good.”
“When I look at the numbers, when you’re replacing a legend, you don’t want to be the first guy, but when you’re offered a job like that, you don’t go, nah.”
But so far, he has received the full support of the boosters and the fan-base and that’s all he can ask for.
“You’re still getting 70,000-plus fans a game,” Fisher said. “We are, and we had a super crowd last game, and it was a good atmosphere. The more games we win, the more support we will get from the fans.”
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