Defensive Tone

Maryland started fast Saturday night but couldn't sustain anything offensively against FSU's speedy defense, which hasn't allowed a touchdown this season. Greg Jones ran for two touchdowns and Chris Rix passed for two more as the 11th-ranked Seminoles erased an early 10-point deficit and defeated Maryland 35-10 at Doak Campbell Stadium. "Last year, if we would've gotten behind 10-0, we would've had our heads down," Darnell Dockett said. "Tonight, we stayed with it and let the game come to us."

Florida State's defense wanted an improved pass rush against the Maryland Terrapins Saturday. Check.

The Seminoles wanted to force key turnovers. Check.

FSU wanted to open the season with consecutive shutouts for the first time since 1980.

Well, two out three isn't bad.

After falling behind the Terps 10-0 five minutes into the game, the Seminoles rallied and relied on its defense to help secure a 35-10 victory at Doak Campbell Stadium.

"I am sure pleased with that (defense). It sure is the key," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said.

"When we got down 10-0 nothing, the defense came and just pulled us out. That was a pretty good football team we played. Our defense hasn't given up a touchdown yet this year and when your defense doesn't give up a touchdown, that's a good sign. I don't care what the offense does. If your defense doesn't give up a touchdown, you're going to win."

Fresh of its season-opening 37-0 shutout at North Carolina, FSU didn't have the opportunity to keep Maryland from the end zone. A Chris Rix pass on the Seminoles' opening play was intercepted and returned 58 yards for a score by linebacker D'Qwell Jackson.

Taking advantage of excellent field position on its next possession, Maryland led 10-0 on Nick Novak's 44-yard field goal.

FSU interior lineman Darnell Dockett believes a similar deficit last season could have spelled doom for the Seminoles.

"Last year, if we would've gotten behind 10-0, we would've had our heads down," Dockett said.

"Tonight, we stayed with it and let the game come to us. I thought our front four played well. We worried more about what we were doing on defense, not on what they were running. Our coaches do a great job of teaching us technique and keep us motivated. We did not take Maryland for granted and that's the type of mentality that we have all year."

FSU's defense certainly took over against Maryland.

The Seminoles limited the Terps to 197 total yards, 81 in the second half, 3.2 yards per play and just 3 of 14 third-down conversions.

Quarterback Scott McBrien finished just 6 of 18 for 61 yards with an interception before being lifted with 10 minutes remaining. Maryland's running game - even with the return of tailback Bruce Perry from injury - sputtered for 73 yards.

The Seminoles finished with three turnovers - interception and two fumbles - to push their three-year total against the Terps to 13 (seven interceptions, six fumbles). The mistakes have resulted in 49 FSU points, including seven Saturday.

FSU also chipped in three sacks and five tackles for loss.

"I think we're doing a lot better than last year on the defensive side of the ball," FSU linebacker Michael Boulware said.

"We played well tonight, but there are still some things that we can improve on. I think tonight was a real good opportunity to see how we would handle adversity. Overall, I think we responded pretty well. I didn't have any worries when the offense got off to a bad start. When that happened, I knew that would be an opportunity for us to show that we are capable of winning the game as a defense."

BIG PLAYS

Trailing 10-7 midway in the first quarter, cornerback Leroy Smith picked off an McBrien pass and returned it 32 yards to the Terps' 7-yard line. The theft marked the 39th consecutive game that FSU's defense has forced a turnover.

The last time the Seminoles did not force a turnover was Sept. 9, 2000 against Georgia Tech.

Smith's second-career interception was wasted, however, as Xavier Beitia's 28-yard field goal attempt was blocked. FSU nose guard Brodrick Bunkley forced a second-quarter fumble, recovered by Kendyll Pope, to stop a Maryland drive at the FSU 27.

The Seminoles put the finishing touches on Maryland in the fourth quarter. End Chauncey Davis forced a fumble on a sack, setting up Willie Reid's 1-yard touchdown run. FSU also held the Terps on downs deep in FSU territory in the final two minutes.

"As an offensive unit, nobody feels good about our performance," FSU receiver Craphonso Thorpe said. "We were sloppy at times and made mistakes. On the plus side, we are scoring touchdowns and the defense hasn't allowed a touchdown all season. And those are good things to build on."


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