On a chillier Tuesday morning, the heat in Tallahassee turned up at the Dunlap practice facility.
Florida State knows the team coming into town Saturday. The No. 16 Duke Blue Devils are coming into the game 5-1 (2-0 ACC) after starting off the year with an upset win over Clemson, and a dogfight is shaping up to take place on Saturday.
Mike Norvell said his team “came out with the right approach” for Tuesday’s practice — the Florida State defense played miles ahead of the offense on the day. The defensive line set the edge along the line of scrimmage the entire day, which forced FSU QBs to pull the ball down countless times. The Seminole defense seems to be rounding into top shape going into primetime. The offense struggled at moments but continued their positive trend in the run game as Caziah Holmes busted multiple explosive plays on the ground.
Three players stood out on a brisk Tuesday morning practice.
The Boston College game woke up a beast. Patrick Payton's last 12 quarters look night and day from the beginning of the year, and Tuesday was no different. He funneled runs back inside multiple times on the day and dominated during 1-on-1s against the offensive linemen. He smashed into Jeremiah Byers in a sound that could be heard from the other side of campus and blew him off his feet. Usually, the student manager tries to avoid the pass rush, but Payton flew into the backfield so quickly he was swallowed instantly. During individual drills on the day, Payton’s length went on full display as he practiced his patented batting down balls at the line of scrimmage and worked on strip sacks.
The numbers back his impact the last three weeks as PFF graded him with a 70.7 pass rush grade, and that does not count his batted balls when he could not get home. Against Duke, his impact will need to be felt. He only played 35 snaps against the Orange and should be fresh on Saturday. The Blue Devils offensive line is littered with veteran talent, and this should be the stiffest test the defense line has faced up to this point in the year. #11 will need his A game to bring home a Seminole victory.
On a day when the FSU offense struggled, Holmes made the plays of the day. He continued to pick the right gaps when Mike Norvell called for the outside zone and burst through the hole. He had runs of 10+ during all the team periods at the beginning, middle, and end of the day. Unfortunately, the depth chart in front of Holmes looks set with Rodney Hill returning from injury and CJ Cambell’s gashing run on Saturday. Nevertheless, Mike Norvell spoke highly of the Penn State transfer.
“He is earning more opportunities...we got a good backfield, and they’ve been working...Caziah’s got a great future, and I’m excited to see the steps he’s taken.”
Against a Duke defense that loves to rotate bodies along the defense front, FSU will need to throw the “body blows” that Alex Atkins spoke of yesterday. Look for Holmes to be a change of pace back as the Seminoles look to show off their own depth.
Darrell Jackson Jr.
It is the ultimate shame that Jackson cannot play this season for no good reason. The Miami transfer comes to work each day with an attitude ready to work and get better. Not everyone in his position would look the way that he does. On Tuesday morning, he looked the best that he had all fall. Jackson, because of his status, works with the scout team. FSU can focus all their attention on him and usually double teams #14. Whatever the offense tried, it did not work. On the first play of this particular series, Jackson burst through Casey Roddick so quickly that the play was blown dead before receivers even broke into their routes. Two plays later, Jackson quickly read the run concept and blew up Trey Benson in the hole as he tried to cut upfield.
After an impressive day, Jackson wanted to continue to work. After all the media interviews, the defensive tackle could be seen walking with Odell Haggins, dripping in sweat on a chilly day. It was clear that Jackson spent extra time with his position coach, looking to get better even with his uncertain future. Mike Norvell earlier in the year said that “postseason play will be a reality for Darell Jackson,” and he cannot wait to unleash the beast.
Head Coach Mike Norvell
DL Malcolm Ray
DL Braden Fiske
Video courtesy Noles247
LB Omar Graham Jr.
Video courtesy Osceola.com