Coley Harvey | Orlando Sentinel FSU reporter
5:13 AM PST, November 15, 2012
TALLAHASSEE -- In the summer of 1998, just before the start of their final season as Auburn offensive assistant coaches, Jimbo Fisher and Rick Trickett went through an unprecedented -- for them, at least -- series of losses. They just couldn't keep their centers healthy.
Before the year was over, they went through five centers after four went down with season-ending injuries.
It was an unfortunate sign of things to come for the Tigers. They ended the season with a 3-8 record.
"Yeah, that's the year we got fired," Trickett's son, Florida State backup quarterback Clint Trickett, recalled.
Fisher and the Tricketts have been at FSU since 2007. To the coaches' credit, the last six years have had their share of challenges, but none quite as bizarre as the injury crisis they endured nearly a decade-and-a-half ago in southern Alabama.
For that reason, the pair can sympathize with Maryland coach Randy Edsall and his staff as the group endures the challenge of having to replace quarterback after quarterback after quarterback ...
Since the preseason, the Terrapins have lost four signal-callers, all who had very real promise for the 2012 campaign. Starter C.J. Brown didn't even take a game snap this season before an ACL injury forced him out of the rotation. Several weeks into the year, his replacement, potential-filled freshman Perry Hills, suffered his own ACL injury. After his backups were both sidelined with serious ailments, in stepped Shawn Petty, a 6-foot-1, 230-pound freshman linebacker.
Yes, linebacker. His backup is a tight end.
For the last two games, Petty has been as solid a performer at quarterback as one could expect given the conditions. He has thrown for 156 yards and three touchdowns. He has even tried to give the offense some semblance of balance with his own attempted rushing attack.
In order to make it easier on Petty, the Terrapins have scaled back their playbook -- dramatically. Asked about the new Petty-sized playbook on Wednesday's ACC coaches teleconference, Edsall said his team is now running only about 50 percent of it.
---You can read much more on the smaller playbook in this story by the Baltimore Sun's Jeff Barker. As you can imagine, the Terrapins cut back on the playbook primarily because they were unexpectedly thrust into the situation of using Petty. So, because hasn't had time to learn the full scheme, they've scaled it back in that regard.
Maryland also has scaled back the playbook to account for Petty's knowledge of being a quarterback. While the Terrapins' system has designed quarterback runs in it, it also is predicated on having a passer who can drop back and connect with a host of playmaking receivers.
In high school, Petty ran a Navy- and Georgia Tech-style spread option. Maryland has had to tweak some of its concepts a bit to better fit his skill.
---Speaking of Petty, his days as a signal-caller are, in fact, numbered. Once the season ends, he likely will fade back into the Terrapins' depth chart at linebacker. The redshirt the scout team player was looking at picking up this season will effectively be burned.
He won't be the face of a program anymore.
He'll just be another face in the crowd.
Alex Prewitt of the Washington Post has a really good, really intriguing look at those days that are drawing nigh for Petty in this story. Check it out.
---If you're headed to Saturday's game at College Park, Md. and you have a spare coat, bring it with you. No, not because of Saturday-morning low of 34. Bring it to help someone in need.
For the 10th straight year, former Maryland linebacker Shawne Merriman will be hosting a coat drive just before the Terrapins' home finale. Before being drafted in 2005, Merriman played at Maryland between 2002-04. He currently plays for the Buffalo Bills who are in action Thursday night and won't have a game over the weekend.
The coat drive benefits victims of Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey. Hats, coats, gloves, scarves, any cold weather item can be donated to the cause outside of Byrd Stadium. The Washington Times' Patrick Stevens has more here.
---Finally, shifting gears to the FSU beat for a moment, the Seminoles know the task of stopping Maryland's defensive line could prove to be a challenging one. The group is big, stout and well-regarded nationally.
The Terrapins rank 16th in total defense among Football Bowl Subdivision teams. They're second in the ACC ... to FSU, which also leads the country.
Fisher said in this Orlando Sentinel story that his group will be ready for the challenge the Terrapins pose.
---The Sentinel also took a look at sophomore cornerback and punt returner Tyler Hunter, who is trying to turn a corner this season. After a bit of a roller coaster of a season, he's hoping his play soon levels out and goes smoothly. Last week's game at Virginia Tech summed his season perfectly: he had a pair of key, clutch plays, but he also had his share of mistakes and miscues.
He's out to fix them all.
But as one of his teammates said, the most important thing isn't what goes on at the beginning and middle of a game ... it's all about the finish. On the very last play of last week's game for FSU's defense, Hunter finished well with a win-icing interception.
Copyright © 2014, Orlando Sentinel