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No. 10 Florida State eyes ACC crown vs. Maryland

No. 10 Florida State eyes ACC crown vs. Maryland

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) Maryland has a linebacker at quarterback and several key players sidelined with injuries. So there's really only one way the Terrapins can defeat No. 10 Florida State on Saturday and prevent the Seminoles from clinching a berth in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game.

``The biggest thing is that we can't make mistakes,'' Terrapins coach Randy Edsall said. ``If we want to have a chance to win, we've got to play a perfect game and get turnovers against them. That's what we have to do.''

Problem is, Maryland (4-6, 2-4) hasn't been anything close to flawless during a four-game losing streak in which it has been outscored 118-58. That includes coming up short 78-23 over the past two weeks after true freshman Shawn Petty began calling the signals for a team that has lost four quarterbacks to season-ending injuries. Petty has four fumbles and an interception in his two starts.

It won't get any easier Saturday against the top-ranked defense in the country.

``The point of emphasis we've put on Shawn or any of the guys that touch the ball for us is we've got to take care of the football and give ourselves a chance to win by playing good, smart, sound football,'' offensive coordinator Mike Locksley said. ``We haven't done that.''

Florida State (9-1, 6-1) is a 31-point favorite, but coach Jimbo Fisher insists his players are taking nothing for granted.

``They've had some issues at quarterback because of injury but have still been able to move the ball and do things,'' Fisher said. ``We'll have to play our A game up there on the road and we'll get their A game.''

Florida State has won four straight overall and owns a 20-2 advantage in this lopsided rivalry. Fisher's toughest job this week was making sure the Seminoles haven't already started packing their bags for their second ACC title game in three years.

``The key is for us is to see how important Maryland is and to focus on Maryland and not the championship,'' Fisher said. ``It's hard because that's what you want - to be a conference champion and to go to the national title game and BCS. Your first objective is to win the conference. It's important with what we want to do and it's always on our goals (list) at the beginning of the year, to be the ACC champion. But to get there we need to focus on Maryland and play a great game against Maryland. That's the only team in America right now.''

For the 17 seniors on Maryland who are playing their final home game, this is their final opportunity to earn a win over Florida State and to add a tombstone outside the practice field for a win against a top-10 opponent. The Terrapins haven't defeated a top-10 team since on Nov. 10, 2007, against Boston College.

It's been a difficult season for Maryland and a trying career for the seniors. After coach Ralph Friedgen was dismissed after the 2010 season, the Terps went 2-10 last year and then had a promising 2012 season come apart in the wake of injuries to four quarterbacks, the team's leading tackler (Demetrius Hartsfield) and standout wide receiver Stefon Diggs.

Those aren't the kind of memories defensive end A.J. Francis wants to stick with him for the rest of his life.

``I wish there would have been more stability. In five years, I played four defenses,'' he said. ``Hopefully we'll be able to get a tombstone his weekend against the only team in the Atlantic Division I never beat. I'm looking forward to it.''

If Maryland can somehow pull off an upset and then beat North Carolina next week, the Terrapins would become bowl eligible. They know this, but are realistic enough to jam that thought into the back of their minds.

``At this point we're on a four-game skid and playing against the No. 1 team in the ACC, so you've got to make sure you keep a one-game-at-a-time mentality,'' Francis said. ``But this game could change our season. It could change our careers. It could change how people view us for the rest of our lives.''

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10 changes that would make the NHL better

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USA TODAY Sports

10 changes that would make the NHL better

Hockey is one of the most incredible, compelling sports in the world. As fun as it is to watch on TV, it is even more compelling in person and fans in North America are treated to the best hockey in the world as played in the NHL.

But the NHL's not perfect.

SEE THE 10 CHANGES THAT WOULD MAKE THE NHL BETTER HERE

Just like every sports league, the NHL is always adjusting and making changes to the game in order to improve it through things like rule changes, expansion, playoff formats, etc.

No sport is perfect and hockey is not without its flaws, but there are a number of clear changes that could be made that would improve both the game and the league.

 SEE THE 10 CHANGES THAT WOULD MAKE THE NHL BETTER HERE

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Need to Know: Redskins training camp preview—Defense

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Associated Press

Need to Know: Redskins training camp preview—Defense

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, July 23, three days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

Training camp preview—defense 

Here are some of the big topics surrounding the defense at Redskins training camp along with some of the things I’ll be observing closely when training camp gets underway on Thursday. I looked at the topics on offense yesterday

Lining up the line

Will Phil Taylor, who seems to be a long shot to make the team after they drafted two nose tackles, get some run with the first and second teams? Also, this is a young group and Jim Tomsula will have a lot of opportunities to teach. Watching him interacting with his line and going over the details of line play is fun to watch.

Spaight vs. Vigil

The two starting inside linebacker starters are safe and the team is intrigued enough by the potential of both Josh Harvey-Clemons and Shaun Dion Hamilton to make them likely bets to make the 53-man roster. That leaves Zach Vigil and Martrell Spaight competing for the last ILB roster spot. 

Spaight is a known quantity who has been a mainstay on special teams since he was drafted in the fifth round in 2015. They kept him over Vigil in the cut to 53 a year ago. But last year when injuries hit, Vigil started over Spaight. In a way, this is Round 3 between the two. 

Ryan Anderson

We know what outside linebacker starters Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith can do. Pernell McPhee will be good for four or five sacks and perhaps a forced fumble or two. Anderson, who was team’s second-round pick last year, is a big question mark. He played 193 snaps in 14 games, but he barely dented the stat sheet with no sacks and just 11 tackles. Anderson is a hard worker and they need his 

The pieces of the cornerback puzzle

This is discussed in some detail hereby JP Finlay and I’ll look at it later this week. To pick out one detail, I want to see what the rotation in the slot is. Right now the guess is that Orlando Scandrick is the starter but who will be behind him? That’s important because Scandrick has missed 25 games in the last three seasons due to injuries. 

Apke’s progress

Fourth-round safety Troy Apke displayed impressive makeup speed during offseason practices and that let him make some plays on the ball. But he needed that speed too often as he had issues in coverage. You need to be more than just fast to play in the NFL. If Apke is going to be an alternative if injury problems strike Montae Nicholson again he needs to start making some progress while he is in Richmond. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 3
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 17
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 40

The Redskins last played a game 204 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 48 days. 

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