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FSU Football Practice Report: The first practice in full pads

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The weekend is finally here.

NCAA Football: Florida State Practice
Willie Taggart looks on as the Seminoles participate in their first week of fall practice.
Tallahassee Democrat-USA TODAY NETWORK

Jay-Z blaring, 86 degrees, and the Seminoles in full pads. Let the weekend begin.

Saturday was our first look at Florida State in something other than gym shorts, with the team’s focal point being short yardage and goal line situations.

Offense

Comfortability

That’s the word that comes to mind when thinking about the quarterbacks on Saturday. Francois, Blackman, and Hockman are getting more and more comfortable calling and running plays. The Seminoles practiced goal line offense for about ten minutes; during which Hockman looked impressive throwing on the run off his back foot, while Francois and Blackman mastered handoff and play action timing. One week in the books — no clear front runner.

Out of the backfield

The thought of Cam Akers lining up wide, catching passes and escaping into open field behind all 6-3 of Keith Gavin should excite fans.

Khalan Laborn looked really impressive on Saturday. His footwork in-between the tackles truly stood out, especially near the goal line. Fans know that the running back position is stacked, but it actually might exceed expectations as a unit when the regular season comes around.

Big men on campus

Your Florida State offensive line after one week (from left tackle to right tackle): Jauan Williams, Derrick Kelly II, Alec Eberle, Cole Minshew, and Landon Dickerson. This was the lineup all week. It went unchanged on Saturday. As fall camp continues in full pads, we’ll see how that lineup holds up.

Redshirt sophomore Baveon Johnson has been the second-string center all week, and when it’s his turn to take reps, he looks like a veteran. Fans should still be somewhat weary if he’s called upon to start at center in the case of an Eberle injury, but he looks to be the future of FSU’s offensive line.

Close to 100%

Another big takeaway from this week: Nyqwan Murray looks to be at or around 100%. Wide receivers started off with simple run-and-catch drills before heading over to snake drills. Murray is catching passes with one hand, looking fluid in his movements and cuts, and standing out as a leader amongst the receiving corps.

A big storyline this offseason: who is that No. 3 threat at wide receiver behind Murray and Gavin? Tre’Shaun Harrison might be that guy. He has some jets, and that explosiveness should lead to much productivity in Taggart’s offense. Georgia Southern transfer Tyrell Moorer has been getting reps as well, although not with the first team yet.

Block for me

Tight ends did not stand out catching the ball on Saturday. They did, however, play an integral part in the short yardage and goal line situations that the team practiced. Most of the formations involved just one tight end. Naseir Upshur emerged as a leading candidate for the No. 1 tight end on the team this week, and it’s not just because of his pass-catching ability. He’s got proven run-blocking ability, helping create some holes that made life easy for Khalan Laborn.

Injured/Absent

DJ Matthews looks to have recovered after being limited earlier in the week due to a unspecified back injury. He was out there and participating at full capacity.

Defense

Big fellas

Defensive line is a strength for this team. Period. Marvin Wilson looks to be getting healthier each day.

Sure, Brian Burns has been the big attention-grabber this week, and rightfully so. Keep an eye on guys like Fredrick Jones to be an anchor for the defensive line, as well as Walvenski Aimé. Both of them, somehow, looked stronger and faster with pads on.

Legacy

Possibly the team’s biggest question mark: linebacker. DeCalon Brooks, son of FSU legend Derrick Brooks, is undersized vertically, but he is a force to be reckoned with when he lines up against another player. He’s been taking first-team reps at the position with Dontavious Jackson the last two days of practice.

Jaiden Woodbey practiced with the linebackers during agility drills Saturday as well.

Slowly but surely

In the forty-two minutes of media availability on Friday, the secondary did not appear to have a strong outing. Saturday was a different story. Here’s the first-team secondary, if you will, after one week: Levonta Taylor and Kyle Meyers at cornerback. A.J. Westbrook and Stanford Samuels III at safety.

Defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett seemingly spent the majority of his time with defensive backs this week.

The Seminoles now head to IMG for four days of off-campus practice.