Grading The 'Noles

Despite falling behind 10-0 early, FSU rallied to manhandle the Maryland Terrapins Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium. The Seminoles (2-0, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) held Maryland to just 197 yards while forcing three turnovers and getting three quarterback sacks. Among teams that have played two games, the 'Noles rank first nationally in scoring defense along with Georgia, Iowa and Michigan, and 11th in total defense. Click here as TheTerritory's Charles Fishbein takes a closer look at FSU.



Chris Rix started off slowly but was 10-for-16 in the second half for 109 yards and a touchdown. Other than his first pass which was taken back for a score and one in the fourth quarter which went over the backs head and out of bounds, Rix was solid again.

Many of his incompletions were either deep passes or ones he threw out of bounds when pressured. He made good decisions with the football two games in a row now. His touchdown pass to Cro Thorpe in the second quarter was an NFL throw. He also threw a beautiful 34-yard touchdown pass to P.K. Sam as well. Leading FSU off the 1-yard line for a touchdown topped off a very good night for Rix.

Grade: B-plus

Running Backs: Once again Greg Jones showed why he is one of the top backs in college football. His 44-yard touchdown run has convinced me he is close to a 100 percent. Fourteen rushes for a 88 yards and a touchdown run makes for a good night for Jones. Willie Reid ran great again and Lorenzo Booker had a key 10-yard run that got FSU out of the shadow of its own endzone. More than 200 yards running is impressive.

Grade: A

Receivers and Tight Ends: Another game and once again someone else steps up. Last week it was Thorpe. This week it's P.K. Sam. He had a great 47-yard touchdown reception. Sam also finished with more than a 100 yards receiving. Cro had another solid night as did Chris Davis. Even the tight end (Matt Henshaw) caught a pass as well. I dont remember any drops.

Grade: A

Offensive Line: The line would have been graded higher but it seemed like it had a few penalties that cost FSU. Overall the line did a very good job of run blocking and other than one sack the pass blocking was solid as well. The line is the biggest surprise so far of the 2003 football season.

Grade: B


Line: This game was a much better effort from the defensive line than against North Carolina. Pressure, pressure and more pressure was the theme. FSU only got three sacks but they forced Maryland quarterbacks into many poor passes. The defense also had many hurries where the opposing quarterback had to get rid of the football quickly. The defensive front was also very good against the run. Darnell Dockett and Chauncey Davis were FSU's best defensive linemen in this game.

Grade: A

Linebackers: The linebackers also played much better this week. You did not see many times where FSU backers were out of position to make a play. I would still like to see the linebackers make more plays behind the line of scrimmage. They also did a good job in pass coverage. Blitzing by the linebackers also looked much improved. Sam McGrew was impressive when he got the chance to play.

Grade: B

Defensive Backs: The defensive backs had their best game in over four years. These guys were all over the field and once again made many big plays. Leroy Smith made a great pick, B.J. Ward had a couple of pass break ups, Bryant McFadden had his best game as a Seminole, Jerome Carter was good on special teams and Gerard Ross even had a pass break up. This was a great team effort from the defensive backfield.

Grade: A

Special Teams: Another solid performance by Jessie Stein. What looked like a weakness is now a strength with Stein at punter. The kickoff and punt return teams were okay but need to improve. FSU coverage of kicks was pretty good. Marcello Church, Kamerion Wimbley who had multiple tackles, McGrew, Pat Watkins and Ernie Sims all did well in covering kicks and punts. Xavier Beita was 5-5 on extra points and but had one field goal blocked. Overall it was a solid performance here as well.

Grade: B

Coaching: Even though the offense was not as fluid this week they did have a great 99-yard touchdown march. The offense seemed to bog down and not going for at least a field goal at the end of the first half and was disappointing.

I thought the Seminoles were in position to at least get into field goal range. Daryl Dickey did a good job of keeping Rix into the game after the pick for a touchdown. The defensive coaches did a great job of mixing up coverages, blitzes and keeping the Maryland offense in a funk for the entire game. Maryland never got inside the FSU 20. That alone gets the coaching staff an A. I give the entire coaching staff a B.

Final Comments:The Seminoles are now 2-0. They have done it with a great defense and a very good running game. What's even more impressive is that the defense has given up just three points. If the Seminoles don't give Maryland great field position its offense does not score. This easily could have been another shutout.

The most impressive stats from this game are: 4-for-13 for 50 yards for Maryland quarterback Scott McBrien in the first half and 6-for-18 for 61 yards for the entire game. He also threw a pick that set up another Seminole touchdown. If not for a long gain in garbage time, the Terps' pass offensive numbers are pathetic. With less than 200 yards the defense was very impressive. Can you imagine what this defense does once its clicking on all cylinders. They will be one of the best in the country.

Nole Digest Top Stories