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Three (over)reactions from Florida State’s latest practices with CoachAB

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Special teams make a special team.

Last week we sat and waited, and waited, and waited some more for those short clips we love of Florida State Seminoles football practice. The week came and went, but we received nothing — children wept, flowers wilted, and the skies turned gray.

Well, guess what — Happy Tuesday, Seminole fans! The football gods dropped four minutes of footage in our laps Monday, and it was just what the doctor ordered. The footage spanned multiple days of practice — evidenced by Keyshawn Helton still being in a non-contact jersey in certain clips.

As always, we’re here to (over)react to the clips we get shared with us, courtesy of Florida State Sports Information.

Punt Block

I’m going to start with the boring stuff first, although I suppose beauty is in the eye of the beholder. For head coach Mike Norvell, special teams are the foundation of an elite program, and they’ve put in a lot of work this preseason.

Taking a look at this drill, Adarius Dent is working on his attack angle on a punt block and taking the ball off the foot of the punter without getting a penalty. So many times players go where the punter takes the snap, instead of where he’ll end up. It’s important for teams to rep good angles so roughing penalties won’t occur. You notice Dent bending around simulated blockers. Taking the most direct point to the ball is crucial. I predict the Noles will block a punt this year. When was the last time that happened?

First Team Offense

Blackman to Tamorrion Terry. What’s the big deal about that? Let’s be honest here: this is all about that clean pocket for Blackman. This is the starting defensive unit on the field, and the first team offense is having success. I thought that wasn’t possible...

All joking aside, that’s as clean a pocket as we’ve seen James Blackman have in a couple years. Add in a physical, traffic catch by Terry, and there’s a lot to like in this play. I think my favorite thing is the hands catch by Terry. This is something we’ve spoken about before, but Terry needs to catch the ball away from his body in traffic. My second favorite part is the confidence with which Blackman delivers the ball—an upfield throw allowing Terry to keep running because the ball is out of Blackman’s hand on time. Look ma, no fading away!

Also: is that James carrying over improved mechanics? But...they said it couldn’t be done!

This play (slant flat concept?) encompasses what FSU’s offense needs in order to have sustained success. The short passing game against physical coverage is going to need to be consistent every game. Can they repeat this outcome when the season starts?

Offensive Line

If you’ve seen Xs and Noles (subscribe and like on YouTube) where Kevin and I talk about OL play from last season, you’ll remember one of the biggest issues they had was miscommunicating stunts and twists up front in slide protection.

Here’s a perfect shot of the OL sliding to the left, while Darius Washington, Dontae Lucas, and Baveon Johnson pick up their respective gaps. Notice the end comes inside of Washington becoming Lucas’ man, and Washington is prepared for somebody to enter his vacated gap.

These are things a young nucleus struggled with last season. It’s encouraging to see the OL play it correctly in a drill, but it has to carry over to the games. In fairness, we also saw them play it well in the Terry clip above. It’s a start, ladies and gentlemen.

I also picked this play because offensive line play is a guilty pleasure of mine. Look at Lucas’ improved stance and set with his head on a swivel ready for action. This didn’t happen last year for a true freshman who was swimming mentally. Washington sets well and then resets inside to take away the angles for anybody looping outside. These are the day-to-day drills that will start the basics of fixing this group for now and make it officially happen when the talent arrives.

Side note: I wish I could hear the communication between the three OL in the video. So much of pass protection is letting your line-mate know whether a DL is coming or going. It would be fun to hear Dontae and Baveon communicating the gap exchange.

These are my overreactions from Saturday’s action. Now, it’s time for yours — what stood out to you? And what are you looking for moving forward?