In one sense, they're on equal footing. Maryland will be without its leading wide receiver, Derrick Fenner. Florida State will play without its best running back, Leon Washington.

The comparisons end there. The No. 5 Seminoles (6-1, 4-1 ACC), bolstered by a dominant offensive line, have speedy backup Lorenzo Booker ready to attack Maryland's defense on Saturday at Byrd Stadium.

On the other hand, the absence of Fenner, who sprained an ankle in Saturday's 10-7 loss to Clemson, places even more of an onus on an offense that hasn't found a playmaker in more than a month. Fenner leads Maryland (3-4, 1-3) with 20 catches, including four in the first quarter of the Clemson game.

Coach Ralph Friedgen said he expects to lose some speed at Fenner's position, which will be filled by sophomore Drew Weatherly, who has six catches this season. Others, such as senior slot receiver Rich Parson, are also prepared to carry more of the responsibility.

"If I have to carry the offense on my back, I will," Parson said. "We [receivers] are probably the oldest group on the team. We should be making plays."

Maryland is 0-14 against Florida State, but Parson said he expects to beat the Seminoles, just as he expected to the past three years. Friedgen said Maryland has not shown the proper focus against Florida State since the Terps lost to the Seminoles, 52-31, in 2001.

So Friedgen already has addressed his players as a group, imploring them to believe they can achieve one of the goals he set when he arrived in College Park: beat a top-10 program. Friedgen this week told players about recent improbable sports triumphs, including the Boston Red Sox' rally against the New York Yankees and Mississippi State's upset victory over Florida.

Parson admitted he entered the meeting thinking, "How many of these young guys really care about winning?" He said he left convinced that they all do. Others agreed.

"I don't believe there is one person in the locker room who does not believe we can win," middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson said. "Or Coach Friedgen would have had them off the team. If you're not with us, you're not with us."

Maryland obviously needs more than passion to end its three-game losing streak. Since Sept. 25, the Terps have averaged less than six points and 128 yards per game.

Opposing them Saturday will be the fastest defense they have seen all season. Florida State's defense has allowed six touchdowns this season (one rushing and five passing). The Seminoles' defense has not surrendered a touchdown in the last 11 quarters.

Formidable as they are, the Terps pledged not to be intimidated against the nation's second-ranked rushing defense.

"It's probably going to be a smash-mouth, trash-talking game," Parson said. "I think our defense will trash talk from kickoff. It's probably going to turn into a brawl. It's going to be a nasty game."

Terrapins Notes: Among the other Maryland injuries, right tackle Brandon Nixon (ankle) is doubtful and the following players are all probable: defensive end Shawne Merriman, linebacker Wesley Jefferson, tight end Rob Abiamiri (shoulder), defensive end Kevin Eli (ankle), running back Josh Allen (quads contusion), right tackle Lou Lombardo (elbow sprain), left tackle Stephon Heyer (knee sprain), fullback Ricardo Dickerson (ankle), receiver Dan Melendez (hamstring), fullback Maurice Smith (hamstring) and right guard Russell Bonham (knee).

Friedgen said practices will consist of less contact this week in an attempt to heal injuries.

"One of the challenges," he said, "is getting as sharp as we can without a lot of hitting."

Other Florida State injuries include wide receiver Chauncey Stovall and linebacker Marcello Church, both of whom are "very questionable," according to Coach Bobby Bowden. . . .

Jackson was named ACC defensive line player of the week for his career-high 18 tackles against Clemson. Florida State linebacker Ernie Sims was named ACC defensive back of the week for the second straight week after recording eight solo tackles in the Seminoles' victory at Wake Forest.