As the calendar turns from August to September, and Florida State Seminoles football head coach Mike Norvell and his team at long last approach the start of the season, the coaching staff and players alike will lean upon the countless hours of work and preparation they have put in this offseason.
One position on the FSU squad that has repeatedly been touted with praise would be the defensive ends, namely Joshua Kaindoh and Janarius Robinson.
A new, more conventional scheme under defensive coordinator Adam Fuller may be better befit to the rush ends’ abilities. If so, the only two upperclassmen at their position (besides Baylor transfer Deonte Williams) could be in line for a serious impact on the ‘Noles in 2020.
“I’m very excited to be back into a 4-3 set,” Robinson said last week. “I’m just happy to be back into something that I’m really comfortable doing.”
Highly publicized by the media and Florida State’s own social media following Saturday’s practice, Kaindoh was awarded inaugural FSU rock-breaker status, a preseason camp honor Norvell has bestowed previously at Memphis and other schools.
While Kaindoh’s high-striker form wasn’t bad at all, Norvell was much more focused on the 6’7, 265-pound lineman’s “proper mindset, proper approach, in meetings, everything in all aspects” this offseason, and Norvell also was pleased with the way he’s performed on the field already in his career.
“Josh is an extremely intelligent young man. When you watch the growth that he had, even last year, you saw flashes of that potential,” said Norvell. “It maybe didn’t show up as much in the stat line, but you really saw a confidence in how he was playing.”
The former five-star was one several FSU defenders in 2019 who saw their year cut short. According to Norvell, Kaindoh has bounced back well since last year’s season-ending injury in a 31-24 loss to Virginia.
“Really just his mental makeup, his response to adversity in his rehabilitation,” Norvell continued. “There are times when you might not be able to play, or you might not be available, it doesn’t mean that you can’t make an impact. Everybody has an opportunity, everybody has a job. So, I think he’s really embraced that.”
Conversely, Robinson’s adversities involved acts of god off the field rather than between the hashmarks. In October 2018, Robinson and his family tragically lost their home in Panama City due to the devastation of Hurricane Michael. But last season, the athletic defensive end never wavered in his improving play on the field, making 11 starts, recording 48 tackles and chipping in 3 sacks.
In an interview on August 6, Fuller spoke out for Kaindoh and Robinson’s versatility, describing them both as “interchangeable”.
Not only are coaches excited about the play of Florida State’s ends in camp, but teammates in the defensive backfield are as well.
“That’s music to my ears. When I see Joshua Kaindoh doing good, that means I’m gonna be doing good, honestly,” said junior defensive back Asante Samuel Jr. “Without the defensive line, we can’t do anything. When he is out there doing his thing, it makes my job easier.”
For the tandem of Kaindoh and Robinson, the 2020 season represents a chance to ideally fit into Fuller’s scheme, improve their NFL outlook, and possibly help Florida State turn their football program around.
“Now it’s just about really zeroing in on what they’re the best at the most,” Fuller said on the defensive line as a whole. “I know what we want it to look like. We want to be an aggressive, attack mindset up front, and we want to be very unpredictable.”