For the second week in a row the Florida State passing game got off to a fast start as EJ Manuel completed 8 of his first 9 attempts for 120 yards on back-to-back scoring drives to start the game in a 41-16 win over Maryland.
Manuel finished the game 18 of 26 for 264 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. FSU averaged 14.7 yards per completion.
Manuel connected with Kenny Shaw for a 26-yard score on the second drive of the game. Shaw finished with six catches for 65 yards.
Bert Reed finally looked to be back to full speed from an ankle injury as he caught a season-high five passes for 76 yards. Rodney Smith caught three passes for 64 yards.
Overall passing game grade: B
226 of Manuel's passing yards came in the first half as FSU turned to the run in the second half. He was sacked four times, and picked off on a bad under throw midway through the second quarter. Overall though a pretty solid day through the air for FSU.
Top Performer: Kenny Shaw
Shaw showed on Saturday how dangerous a route runner he can be on the second drive of the game. First he picked up a 14-yard gain on a perfectly run slant inside, then on the ensuing play he went back across the middle for a 26-yard touchdown.
The Seminoles backed up last week's big game on the ground with another solid performance. FSU rushed for 218 yards as a team.
Devonta Freeman became the first FSU freshman to rush for over 100 yards in back-to-back games since Sammie Smith in 1986. Freeman finished with 100 yards exactly and a touchdown on 11 carries. He broke free for a 41-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, which ties James Wilder Jr.'s run against Charleston Southern as the longest of the season.
Senior Jermaine Thomas also had a big day rushing for 86 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown, on 9 carries.
Manuel and senior fullback Debrale Smiley also ran for scores.
Overall running game grade: A
FSU struggled to the move the ball on the ground in the first half as they ran for just 20 yards, but bounced back with a strong second half. Freeman, who got the first start of his career, averaged 9.1 yards per carry. As a team FSU averaged five yards even.
Top performer: Jermaine Thomas
Freeman certainly made a strong case for back-to-back honors with his performance, but Thomas bounced back form a rough start to the year. After missing much of the preseason came with migraines stemming from a concussion, Thomas looked much like the guy who led the team in rushing in 2009 on Saturday. He averaged a robust 9.6 yards per carry.
Once again the front seven put forward a very strong performance for the defense. After recording five sacks last week against Duke, FSU had a season-high six against Maryland.
Dual-threat quarterbackC.J. Brown, who rushed for 100 yards in each of Maryland's two previous games, was held to just 25 yards rushing. But he was sacked for four times for a loss of 25 before taking a vicious hit from Nigel Bradham.
As a team Maryland could only manage 59 yards rushing on 37 attempts. Their longest run of the day was for just 10 yards.
Brandon Jenkins finished the game with four tackles and 1.5 sacks. True freshman defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan also turned in a solid day with 3 tackles, 0.5 a sack, and two quarterback hurries.
Linebackers Vince Williams and Nigel Bradham recorded seven tackles apiece.
Overall front seven grade: A
A season-high in sacks, and an average of just 1.6 yards per carry equals another A for the front seven.
Top performer: Telvin Smith
Smith finished the game with four tackles, three solo, and two sacks. On his two sacks Maryland lost a combined 30 yards.
The secondary kept Brown the starter in check for most of the day as he finished the game 11 of 19 for 92 yards. But once he was injured and replaced by Danny O'Brien, Maryland was able to move the ball through the air some.
O'Brien completed 9 of 18 pass attempts for 180 yards and a touchdown. He also setup a five-yard touchdown run on a 69-yard completion to Quintin McCree over Greg Reid. O'Brien's passing touchdown came in garbage time against the third-team defense as he picked on Avis Commack for a few big play.
Reid, who didn't start, finished the game with three solo tackles and a pass breakup. Once again though he was the victim as an opponent hit a big play.
Mike Harris was quietly solid as usual as he had six solo tackles and a pass breakup.
Nick Moody got the start at strong safety and recorded a season-high four tackles.
Overall secondary grade: B-
The lone passing touchdown came against the third-team defense with less than a minute left in the game, but the big reception by McCree wasn't a good sign.
Top performer: Xavier Rhodes
Rhodes may have played his best game of the year against Maryland. The redshirt sophomore finished with six tackles, one for loss, and two pass breakups.
Special Teams Grades
It was a strange day for the special teams unit.
Dustin Hopkins missed his first field goal attempt since a 51-yard miss against Maryland last season, Greg Reid had a punt retrun for a touchdown waived off by an inadvertent fair catch signal, and a blocked field goal was no good because Reid was way offsides.
Punter Shawn Powell had a good day as he had two punts of 50-plus yards, and a net average of 42.7 yards on his three attempts.
Karlos Williams looks to be just one step away from breaking a big kickoff return as he had two returns for 62 yards.
Overall Special Teams grade: B+
After struggling last week, allowing Duke to recover two onsides kicks and kicking two kickoffs out of bounds, the special teams bounced back.
Top performer: Dustin Hopkins
Hopkins bounced back from a second quarter miss with field goals of 38 and 24 yards. He also recorded two touchbacks, after struggling on kickoffs the previous two weeks. In the fourth quarter he also made the tackle on a kickoff.
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