COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Ever since he became coach in January, Florida State's Jimbo Fisher has said the program won't return to its winning ways until it developed a new mentality.
He's starting to see that occur.
"They're finding ways even when the bounces don't go your way," Fisher said, referring to several missed opportunities and a couple of breaks that didn't go FSU's way in a 30-16 win Saturday night at Maryland.
"Winning is a culture and it's a habit. And it's not only winning on the field, it's the way you walk, you talk, you eat, you breathe, you believe. And everybody in the organization, not just the players and the coaches, but everybody who affects those kids has to have that mentality. That's what we're starting to bring back."
What was he thinking? When S Nick Moody intercepted Maryland's fourth-down pass at the FSU 4 late in the game, Fisher wanted him to fall down instead of returning it for a touchdown. By scoring for a 30-16 lead, FSU had to give the ball back to the Terrapins, who could have hit a big play, recovered an onside kick and set up for a Hail Mary.
"I actually was upset with Nick right there," Fisher said. "I wish he had gotten down."
Said Moody: "It didn't even cross my mind to fall down, and I didn't hear anybody on the sideline yell to get down, either."
The 96-yard return was the fourth longest in school history. Deion Sanders took one back 100 yards against Tulsa in 1985, Fred Biletnikoff returned a pick 99 yards against Miami in 1963, and Ted Hewitt had a 99-yarder against Stetson in 1958.
A major call: CB Michael Harris seemingly returned an interception for touchdown in the first half that would have given FSU a 17-3 lead. Instead a penalty on CB Greg Reid nullified the play.
Reid dropped his shoulder as he barreled into RB Da'Rel Scott and officials deemed that Reid had targeted above the shoulders, a hit that has been a point of emphasis for officials to call because of player safety. Maryland scored the tying touchdown moments later.
The Seminoles didn't get that call later in the game when WR Taiwan Easterling was leveled in the end zone, apparently hit in the chest.
Speaking of Harris: He had a big play later in the first half when he took a shovel pass from Shawn Powell on a fake punt and raced 33 yards to set up a field goal that tied it at 13.
End of a streak: Sophomore RB Chris Thompson lost a fumble early in the second half, the first by him, Jermaine Thomas and Ty Jones all season.
He said it: "They're a standard a lot of people get measured by for a while around this country." — Fisher on this weekend's regular-season finale against the visiting Gators, who have won six straight in the rivalry.
UM: We'll beat USF
CORAL GABLES — The Hurricanes said despite being eliminated from the ACC Coastal Division chase, they will be motivated to beat USF on Saturday.
"We're going to keep playing," DL Adewale Ojomo said. "We're looking forward to winning the South Florida game, point blank."
"We can't let this affect us. No way," C Tyler Horn said after losing to Virginia Tech. "We've got South Florida next. We're going to beat them. It's an instate rival, we've got them, we're focused on them."
WAITING ON HARRIS: QB Jacory Harris, who hasn't played since getting knocked out of a game at Virginia on Oct. 30 with a concussion, is likely to play against USF, coach Randy Shannon said, and possibly start if he can practice. Harris was in uniform and on the sideline for the Virginia Tech game, and Shannon hinted he was close to playing. Freshman Stephen Morris went 2-1 as the starter, throwing three interceptions in the last 9:01 against the Hokies.
B-CU: Playoff set
Bethune-Cookman got a first-round bye when the 20-team Division I-AA playoffs were announced. The Wildcats (10-1) host New Hampshire (7-4) in the second round on Dec. 4.
Information from Times wires was used in this report. Brian Landman can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3347.