It was October 2011, and I remember standing just off the field inside Doak Campbell Stadium for media interviews after Florida State’s 41-16 victory over the Terps.
It was a rough day for the Terps. I remember that coach Randy Edsall made a memorably candid statement.
"We just don't match up with the speed and athleticism of Clemson and Florida State. That's what we are going to have to do from a recruiting standpoint," said Edsall. He sounded determined, almost defiant, about the ultimate course of his program. "We can win, and we're going to win. I have no doubt about that. It's going to get done," he said.
So two years later, with the teams playing this Saturday, how do things look? My story for Wednesday’s paper is on how the 25th-ranked Terps have narrowed the talent gap between the programs.
Let’s be realistic. No. 8 Florida State has some built-in advantages. You know what they are — the depth of talent in the state of Florida, for one. The athletic facilities, for another.
“I think they [the Terps] have closed the gap somewhat,” said Brandon Huffman, national recruiting analyst for FOX Sports/Scout.com. “But very rarely is anybody going to close the gap, speed-wise, with them. They’ve been so good nationally for 25 years and they’re able to grab those elite kids.”
And if underdog Maryland manages to defeat the Seminoles on Saturday?
“This win would show the corner has been turned. That’s a kind of signature win,” Huffman said.
One person seemingly impressed with the Terps is Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher. Count the “greats” and “goods” in this soliloquy today to reporters.
“Maryland, as you see, is a very good team,” Fisher said. “In every conference standing, they’re one or two in every statistical category across the board, playing very good football. Very dynamic players on offense. Quarterback C.J. Brown is playing lights out. [Stefon] Diggs is a great player — he’s catching balls everywhere. Their back, [Brandon] Ross, is way up there and does a good job. They’ve got a good football team. Defensively, [Marcus] Whitfield has five or six sacks and six or seven tackles for loss. [They are] doing a lot of different things with coverages and blitz packages — playing great football. Special teams are doing a good job, got great returners because they’re dynamic and athletic. It’s going to be a great game.”