Maryland-Florida St. Preview
Winston and eighth-ranked Florida State look to continue their outstanding offensive start with Saturday's visit from a No. 25 Terrapins team coming off its first shutout in five years.
The Seminoles' 51.2 points per game are fourth in the FBS, though none of their victims rank in the top 50 nationally in total defense. Things might look a little clearer after a test from a Maryland defense that's holding opponents to an average of 10.3 points.
The Seminoles (4-0, 2-0 ACC) have gotten it done in the air and on the ground, ranking 10th nationally with 531.5 yards per game. They're one of five teams to average at least 230.0 rushing yards and 275.0 passing.
Winston is second in the country in passing efficiency (209.5). He leads the ACC in completion percentage (73.6) and touchdown passes with 12. Four of those came Saturday in a 48-34 win at Boston College, a game Florida State trailed by two touchdowns early on.
"He's only four games in,'' Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said. "We'll wait. He's got a good grasp of things. I like the way he's playing. And there's some things he's got to get better at. He'll be the first one to tell you. But he's still making great reads and great plays. He's developing very well."
The Terrapins (4-0) are looking to start the ACC schedule with their first win in Tallahassee in their last year in the conference.
Before their bye, the Terrapins beat West Virginia 37-0 on Sept. 21 for their first shutout since 2008. They enter this week's game third in the country in scoring defense.
The win looks more impressive after the Mountaineers beat then-No. 11 Oklahoma State last Saturday. Without taking the field, Maryland jumped into the Top 25 for the first time since ending 2010 ranked 23rd - prior to coach Randy Edsall's arrival.
"Talent-wise we're as good as we've ever been,'' guard De'Onte Arnett said. "We're jelling completely. Everybody has bought into the program, and now is our time.''
The Terrapins' 17 sacks are tied for best in the nation and their eight interceptions are tied for eighth. Two of those came against West Virginia, when they forced six turnovers and held the Mountaineers to 175 yards of total offense.
The Seminoles could make things a little more difficult. Last year, Devonta Freeman ran for 148 yards on 16 carries in a 41-14 rout at Maryland, which stands as the Seminoles' best individual rushing performance in the 23 matchups between the two schools.
Florida State is 21-2 against Maryland, having won the last six meetings.
Seminoles wide receiver Rashad Greene enters Saturday with a touchdown in five straight games for the second time in his career. He had four catches for 50 yards and a score last year against Maryland.
Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown missed last year's meeting with a torn ACL in his left knee. The senior has thrown seven touchdowns and one interception while rushing for 283 yards and six scores through four games.
He was held to 92 yards on 11 of 19 passing in the Terrapins' 41-16 loss to Florida State in 2011, but knows his team looks much different this time.
"We are 4-0, they're 4-0, it's a nationally televised game. It doesn't get any better than that,'' said Brown, who's eighth in the nation at 10.54 yards per pass attempt. "This is what you play for. To go out there and prove yourself. This will be a good test for us.''
Florida State has limited opponents to an average of 136.0 passing yards so far this year, which is fourth in the country.
"They're a fast and physical team, very successful this year so it will be a good challenge for us," Brown said. "They lost a lot of guys upfront on the defensive line to the NFL. They rotate a lot of bodies, they have a lot of experience in the secondary and at the linebacker level, so it'll be a good challenge for us."
Seminoles linebacker Christian Jones and defensive end Eddie Goldman will add to the challenge. Both starters are returning from one-game suspensions for a violation of team rules.