“Gotta be dominant!”
Mike Norvell shouted at his special teams unit as they began drills for the first time since Saturday’s debacle. The usual intensity and speed came through for the Seminoles in their opening practice for Syracuse week. The defense had the upper hand early, as they produced two sacks during the first 11-on-11 practice period, but the offense responded later in the day, moving the ball efficiently through the passing game.
On a back-and-forth day on both sides, the Seminole head coach seemed content with the work put on the field Tuesday.
“I thought today was a good work day...I thought both sides of the ball had good moments at practice, but at the end of the day, it’s just that constant challenge that we’ve got to embrace ourselves.”
Reflecting on the day’s action, three storylines rose above the rest during Tuesday's practice.
The rest of the country needs to watch out — Jared Verse has refound his form. He is starting to unleash himself after calling himself a “civil servant” by creating double teams and forcing teams to account for him in protection.
“They’re doing a lot of max protect this year,” said Verse on Saturday night after the VT game, “ [I’m} getting a lot of double teams as a D-line, as a unit, but it felt good to finally get my plays, make some.”
If Saturday’s game indicated that he is coming alive, then Tuesday’s practice put the country on notice that this version of Jared Verse will be staying for the rest of the season. During the first set of 11-on-11 drills, he used his hands violently to swat away the offensive tackle’s attempt to get extended on him then contorted his hips around the edge, producing his patented bend to get a whistle from Norvell and a “sack” on Jordan Travis. On the ensuing play, he burst through a whole of the field goal protection unit and elevated his paw for a hand to block the Ryan Fitzergald field goal attempt.
Verse continued to wreak havoc throughout the morning by bull-rushing opposing linemen during 1-on-1 drills and blowing up run plays. The duo of Verse and his running mate Patrick Payton are starting to elevate their game, which could spell trouble for Syracuse and beyond.
After practice, Norvell said that they knew heading into the Virginia Tech game that the South Carolina transfer would be limited at best.
“He was banged up last week, very limited in practice...We knew he was going to be a very limited snap count. I think he made maybe seven plays in the game.”
Norvell knew the number off the top of his head as Bell only played seven snaps in a minor role Saturday afternoon. However, Tuesday looked like he was back to full strength as the tight end made plays over the field.
Towards the end of practice, Jordan Travis hit Bell on a slot wheel route as No. 6 freed himself through a pick and high-pointed the ball over A.J. Contrill. He continued to shine during the back off of Tuesday morning as he caught multiple passes on over routes as Bell lived in the middle of the field. The defense did not produce an answer for him as the day went along. A healthy Jaheim Bell opens up doors of possibilities for the Seminole offense. They use him as an outside receiver, standing up in the slot or in line. He creates matchups that few defenses have an answer for because of his size and versatility. Mike Norvell trusts his transfer so much he even used him as a running back this year. Jaheim Bell is in the same category as Keon and Johnny regarding pure playmaking; seeing him look back to 100% should be music to Mike Norvell’s ears.
Mike Norvell and ACC Refs
The focus may be on Syracuse this week, but the constant back and forth with officials is always on the coaching staff’s mind. A day after Adam Fuller publicly acknowledged how happy he is that Norvell deals with officials, Mike Norvell commented on referees(his third straight time mentioning them in his last three availabilities for those keeping score at home).
Today, the question was how the coaching staff looks at challenging plays and booth reviews.
“There are times that you got to be able to make some of those choices, but yeah, I love officials.”
The sarcasm could be heard through his voice, producing a laugh from the local Tallahassee media. Regarding the product on the field, the Seminoles were flagged for two indisputable false start penalties on Saturday afternoon. Mike Norvell and Alex Atkins mentioned these infractions during their time with the media yesterday, noting that this will need to be cleaned up. The improvements came Tuesday as there were no snap procedural penalties called on the offensive line during 11 on 11 work during the day,
The Seminoles will return to the Dunlap practice facility tomorrow for another open media practice as they prepare to take on the Orange.
Head Coach Mike Norvell
LB Blake Nichelson
Video courtesy Warchant
RB Lawrance Toafili
Video via Noles247