As is tradition on Florida State Media Day/Fan Day, the Seminoles opened the entirety of practice up to fans as well as the media inside Doak Campbell Stadium on Sunday. The extended look at practice provided good insight into how the team looks with less than three weeks until the matchup with Alabama.
What were the major takeaways, both positive and negative, from Sunday’s practice?
1. Gavin and Campbell look ready
If Sunday’s practice is any indication, the fringe receivers looking to take the next step forward in 2017 (Keith Gavin and George Campbell) look ready to do just that.
Gavin, working in some reps with Deondre Francois, showed his athleticism and how well he can use his size, going up against some of FSUs best defensive backs and holding his own in reps.
Campbell, in the first extended the media has seen from him in some time, showed what Jimbo Fisher and staff saw him in as a high school, mixing his quickness with impressive jumping ability and better ball skills than he had early in his career.
2. Rasul is not to be forgotten in RB race
The lost man of sorts in FSU’s special running back corps is sophomore Amir Rasul.
Rasul, who Fisher has praised on multiple occasions already this fall, stood out on Sunday for his speed and agility.
Other running backs made standout plays as well, but, in a race which many had thought was coming down to Jacques Patrick and Cam Akers, I believe Rasul is very much a factor.
3. Raw freshmen
You could see the potential of many of Florida State’s true freshmen in Sunday’s practice.
That being said, you could also see how raw some of them are.
Quarterback James Blackman continues to throw a very pretty ball, but, when working on longer routes in practice, his inaccuracy showed itself often as balls sailed away uncatchable.
Wide receiver Tamorrion Terry flashed his athleticism, going up to make some impressive catches, but also dropped some gimme balls thrown his way which hit him right in the hands. As Gavin talked about with regard to his own freshman year earlier on Sunday, Terry needs to find consistency. Time will likely bring that.
4. FSU DL shows out
Florida State’s defensive line is definitely among the best in the country, returning nearly all contributors from last year’s team.
This was evident on Sunday as the Seminoles’ defensive front dominated its fair share of the pass rush reps against the FSU offensive line.
Had Deondre Francois not been wearing a green non-contact practice jersey designated for quarterbacks, he would have been flattened by passrushers on multiple occasions in first-team reps of Sunday’s open practice.
Demarcus Christmas in particular was a force on the interior of the defensive front. If he is able to take his game to the next level, him paired with Derrick Nnadi could be the best defensive tackle combo in the nation.
5. Return game
A somewhat new batch of punt returners was working on Sunday. This included some usual suspects such as Derwin James, Levonta Taylor and Keith Gavin. The new addition who I had not noticed working as a punt returner earlier in the first week of fall camp was freshman running back Zaquandre White.
Many of the options looked viable in the limited number of reps we saw, but the one player who looked a bit uncomfortable when I was observing them was Taylor.
This came as a surprise as Taylor was highly regarded for his punt return prowess coming out of high school. Nevertheless, out of the bunch, Taylor was the least reliable option, muffing and misjudging a few balls kicked his way.