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DEFENDERS SEE EASY PREY

By Coley Harvey

Orlando Sentinel

TALLAHASSEE - After the huddle breaks and the offensive linemen step to the line and bend at the waist, the quarterback behind them is revealed.

He isn't built like the stereotypical quarterback.

He stands 6 feet 1, 230 pounds with thick, muscular arms. The "3" and "1" on his jersey look like they should be flipped. He calls out linebacker checks and offensive line protections, but the two charts that sit askew around his wrists and forearms just don't look like they belong on his body.

Shawn Petty is a freshman who began the season with Maryland's defense. Saturday, as he has the past two, he will occupy the offensive backfield when the Terrapins (4-6, 2-4 ACC) host No. 10 Florida State (9-1, 6-1) in College Park, Md.

That's right, this linebacker will be playing quarterback.

"I always wanted to play quarterback," said FSU's Telvin Smith, a linebacker whose slimmer build better resembles a traditional quarterback frame.

"So I think I'd be ready (to be thrown in)."

Three weeks ago, Petty had no choice. He had to be ready.

Four previous quarterbacks, players with actual collegiate game experience behind center, had gone down with season-ending injuries. ACL tears now gave the young, little-known, walk-on defender a chance to play.

Desperate, the Terrapins turned to Petty because he played the position in high school.

Seminoles CB Xavier Rhodes, who has no experience playing quarterback and is more used to spying quarterbacks and hunting their passes, joked he couldn't make the sudden adjustment Petty was forced into.

"It's nerve-racking," Rhodes said. "You've got all those big people coming at you. My receivers wouldn't have any yards. I'd just be throwing it (wherever) or running all day. Hike and (one-step) throw. Hike and run."

Although Petty has thrown for 156 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in the two games since he was inserted - both losses - FSU expects him to do much of what Rhodes described.

"I see good things for our front seven," S Lamarcus Joyner said. "There's going to be a lot of running due to the fact they don't have any passing quarterbacks. This is a game for the up front to just eat and get their chance."

Into their Hands: The Terrapins appear to be making special teams changes for Saturday. The punting and placekicking positions are up for grabs. The change at punter could be important for FSU. Nathan Renfro, who has had the duties most of this season, likes to kick the ball all over the field as opposed to consistently hitting it along the same line as many punters do. Having a punter that sprays it could actually be an advantage for FSU, which has shifted to a two-man return system to try to address its problems with muffed punts.

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