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Florida State coaches press conference: Virginia

It’s been an interesting weekend, to say the least

Don Juan Moore

Update, 12:30 p.m.

Yesterday Dabo Swinney said the game was not cancelled due to Covid-19, but rather it was used as an excuse. When asked about Swinney’s comments, Norvell said, “Everyone here was excited, and wanted the opportunity to compete. the protocols that are in place to ensure the health and well-being of our athletes, we don’t take lightly. Football coaches are not doctors. Some of us might think we are.”

Florida State‘s head coach Mike Norvell addressed the Florida State media for the first time since Saturday’s postponement this afternoon. Norvell started his weekly press conference by thanking FSU’s medical advisors. He said, “Just want to start off and thank our medical advisors for the protocol that we have in place, the way that their entire system that has been handled.”

The Seminoles’ head coach knows he has a young team, and knows that this team needs every rep possible. Swinney said yesterday that a “few coaches” felt the same way as him about the game. When asked what he thought of that, Norvell said, “We are a young team that needs every rep it can get....I’m not concerned about what any other coach says, or thinks.”

Norvell mentioned that the Seminoles’ medical staff was worried because Clemson practiced and traveled a symptomatic player, which led to the positive test. When asked about Clemson’s handling of the situation, he said, “Other schools can handle themselves however they want. They can practice symptomatic players. But when it comes to our student athletes and their well being, we’re going to rely on our medical advisors to make the best call.”

For more from Norvell’s weekly presser, click here.

Update, 1:00 PM

Offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham also spoke to the media today about the postponement of the Clemson game. Dillingham stressed that he and his players are always looking for an opportunity to compete. On Swinney’s comments about using Covid as an excuse to not play, he said, “I’m looking to compete every opportunity we get. We’re excited to compete against Virginia, and Clemson in a few weeks.”

On the team’s reactions and mood after the game was cancelled on Saturday, Dillingham said, “Everybody was down but at the same time you have to look at it as ‘where are we going to go from here?’ Are you going to get better? What can we now do to get better.” He mentioned that many players worked out on the field when they got to the stadium. He also mentioned he doesn’t think that would’ve been the case in September and that he’s seeing true progress in the program.

Some FSU players took to social media to let fans and Clemson players know they were ready to play. On their response to the social media reaction and people saying they were ‘ducking’ the Tigers, Dillingham said, “There’s always that thought. Today in the social media world, we don’t know what they’re reading. They’re so much stuff that they’re reading and hearing, some of it is true and some if it is not.”

With the extra time off on Saturday, the Seminoles got back to focusing on themself. On what they did when they got to the stadium Saturday, he said, “It was more focused on ourselves. We went back to some base installs. Getting kids on the whiteboard and worrying about ‘can they teach us the offense?’”

Dillingham is now focused on Florida State’s next challenge and Viriginia’s defense. He mentioned that they got a couple extra hours to look at UVA film with Saturday’s situation. On the Virigina defense, he said, “They’re physical and they’re multiple. They do a remarkable job of being complex, and simple at the same time, which is a sign of great coaching.”

Update, 1:10 PM

The Seminoles’ defensive coordinator Adam Fuller was third to the podium on the afternoon. On Saturday morning and what the team went through, he said, “We were in pre-game meal and Mike kind of tapped me on the shoulder and gave me a heads up. We told the players shortly afterward. There is a build-up to a game and for that to be halted was a real surreal feeling.”

Florida State saw mostly continuity on the defensive depth chart for the first time in a few weeks today. That is something that Fuller is hoping can continue to develop even more after the unexpected off week. Fuller said, “Now we have an extra week, so hopefully that will develop a little more continuity.”

On Virginia’s offense and the threat they pose, Fuller said, “Anytime you have a quarterback back there that can run and throw the ball that creates a lot of issues. They are a well-rounded team. They’ve won a couple different ways. Anytime you can run the ball they way they’ve run it, it gives you a chance.”

Cory Durden opted out and left the Florida State program earlier this week. With Marvin Wilson’s season ending injury and Durden’s opt out, the ‘Noles are starting to wear thin at the defensive tackle group. On the depth at DT, Fuller said, “Dennis has made strides. Fabian the last couple weeks has been his better weeks of practice, I think he is playing his best ball. Continuing to develop Coop. A little bit different than the way it started out, but I’m happy.”

Hamsah Nasirildeen made his long-awaited season debut two weeks ago in Raleigh. The safety was quite limited by a snap count, which reduced his ability to impact the game. FSU is planning to try and double that snap count this upcoming week. Fuller said they are “going to try and double his snaps”, and the “the reps won’t go down as long as he is feeling well, they will only go up.”

Update, 1:16 PM

Defensive ends coach and special teams coordinator John Papuchis was last to the podiun today. Papuchis mentioned that the players, and himself, were shocked and disappointed with the news on Saturday. On the emotions of Saturday, he said, “You can just tell by the look on their faces that they had started to put themselves in game mode and they were shocked and disappointed.”

On Saturday, Papuchis put out a tweet that said, “Narrative is Narrative. Truth is Truth...” On that tweet and what he saw going on throughout the day, he said, “People are going to have their feelings on the way things are going. Just from our players’ perspective and coach’s perspective, we were excited about playing the game, no matter what else is being said out there.”

Freshman Alex Mastromanno has held down the starting punting duties throughout the entire season, one of FSU’s only positions with continuity for the entire season. The freshman has averaged just over 43 yards per punt this year. On Mastromanno’s development, Papuchis said, “Number one he has tremendous work ethic. He prepares well and takes a lot of pride in his craft. We have only scratched the surface of what he is going to become but I am very pleased with him.”

Florida State Seminoles football, anticipating to play against the Clemson Tigers on Saturday, did not, after a Clemson player who had practiced all week and traveled tested positive for the virus.

“Our first priority is the health of our student-athletes, and I appreciate the protocols that have been put in place by FSU and the ACC to ensure everyone’s health while allowing us to play this season,” head coach Mike Norvell said in a release Saturday. “It’s unfortunate that we will not have the opportunity to compete today, but we hope to be able to play Clemson in December. I am thankful for the support and coordination between our administration, Clemson and the ACC office. Our team will now turn our focus to hosting Virginia next week.”

Outside of a brief interview on ESPN’s College GameDay, Norvell and Florida State have yet to further address the postponement.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, however, took the opportunity last night to blame FSU’s administration for what he called a “cancellation,” and believes that it amounts to a forfeit.

Oh, and FSU is also playing Virginia this week — so we’ll probably hear about that as well. We expect to hear from Norvell, offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham, defensive coordinator Adam Fuller and special teams coordinator/defensive ends coach John Papuchis.

You can follow along both in the comment section and on our Twitter, and in the meantime, drop any questions you have in the comments and we’ll try to get to them.