Here are five things to watch for when Maryland visits FSU today.
1.) Careful on those kicks!
This may be the most important thing Florida State has to worry about all day: Maryland can change a game on a single kick or punt return. While FSU will definitely have their defensive keys and offensive assignments well in mind come kickoff, the one detail that could elude them at a key moment is how talented Maryland is in the return game. William Likely, a freshman defensive back, is handling the bulk of the return duties but the ever-dangerous Stefon Diggs could also head back to field kicks too.
That means Roberto Aguayo and Cason Beatty need to be on their games today. Aguayo's kickoffs have been steady all season. The hang-time on Beatty's punts needs to be too today or else Maryland could gain an edge in the hidden yardage.
2.) Can the defense maintain its assignments?
All week the defense has been hard at work trying to correct the mistakes it made against Boston College last weekend. The Eagles gashed FSU for 200 yards on the ground and scored 34 points, largely due to the fact that the Seminoles had players free-lancing a bit too much - trying to make plays beyond what they were asked to do - and it cost them. This week that will be even more important as Maryland tries to spread the field.
3.) More carries for Karlos?
Karlos Williams was likely in line for more carries last week but FSU struggled to set up the run and it was up to Jameis Winston to bail them out. Today, against Maryland I think Williams finally takes a bigger role on offense. So far, Karlos has looked like one of the most dynamic players on the entire roster with the ball in his hands. Fisher was testing him early to make sure he was comfortable and that the calls and reads came second nature, now that he knows they do, expect Williams to be unleashed.
4.) Jameis Winston faces his first real test
Maryland hasn't really played anyone either, their best win was over a fairly hapless West Virginia team, but they are ranked 25th and do have the 3rd ranked scoring defense in the nation. At least on paper this is the biggest test Jameis Winston has faced as a collegian and all eyes will be on him come kickoff. Winston has been superb so far this year, if he can continue that today FSU will be unbeaten heading to Clemson in two weeks.
5.) Can FSU overcome its problems with slow starts?
The Seminoles are yet to come out early and blow the doors off the building this year. Granted, they have started to roll in every game this year - scoring on six straight drives at some point in all four games - but they are yet to do it early. Last weekend they fell behind 17-3 before going on a 35-3 run to ice the game. This week they want to avoid that.
“It’s very easy to pick up your intensity when you’re behind," said Winston. "When you’re a great team you always need to have that intensity. You want to play like that – like you are always behind. That’s why we’re always, ‘Hey, don’t look at the scoreboard. Play like the score is 0-0.’ You always have to play like that chip is always on your shoulder.”
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