This stat, while shocking, flew around the practice facility Tuesday morning. The coaching staff and players know that going into Winston-Salem will not be a walk in the park. Norvell made sure to turn up the noise.
“Trying to set a couple of different things, atmosphere, a couple of periods where we didn’t have that outside influence...going back on the road have to prepare ourselves for all situations.”
The Dunlap practice facility rocked from the pumped-in crowd during the first 11 on 11 period, where the defense shined. They got into the backfield, set hard edges, and played sticky coverage on receivers. The dominance continued when the team went outside as they forced Florida State quarterbacks to constantly pull the ball down during team drills or 7 on 7. Three themes stood out above the rest on a day when the defense flashed.
In back-to-back weeks, Patrick Payton could be considered the MVP of practice on a Tuesday. The Boston College game woke him up, and he has improved every week since. He matched Jared Verse in snap share on Saturday night with 39 and constantly made waves in the backfield. PFF rated No.11 a ridiculous 90.1 pass-rush grade against the Blue Devils, to go along with an astounding six quarterback hurries. Remember that Duke only threw the ball 22 times, meaning Payton rushed a throw over 25% of the time. On Saturday, Payton spoke glowingly of his team.
“I feel like no team can really run the ball or throw the ball on our defense.”
Tuesday morning, the Florida State offense struggled running and throwing the ball on Pat Payton’s unit all day. During the first 11 on 11 series of the day, Patrick Payton did something no player did Saturday: set the edge. From there, he funneled the run play back inside, where Jared Verse pounced for a tackle for loss. Two players later, on a running back toss, Payton dissected the play call early, darted off his block, and made the tackle in space. Payton finished the day dominating in one-on-ones against multiple offensive tackles, using his length to stun the opposing body and bending around the edge to get home. Teams cannot double Payton and Verse, and they are looking to take advantage.
Not only did Patrick Payton rule the day rushing the passer, but this was the most consistent his unit looked in a long time. Adam Fuller called simulated pressures throughout the day, and they usually got home. The defensive coordinator has fallen back in love with slot or corner pressure in games and practices, and it paid off today as Renardo Green touched Tate Rodemaker on a sack, blowing the play dead. I counted four times that FSU signal callers had the play blown dead or fled the pocket for a throwaway before the storm closed in. In 1-on-1s against the offensive tackles, the defensive line got pressure at will. Braden Fiske and Joshua Farmer won back-to-back reps, the former with a silky swim move and the ladder with a powerful bull rush, both ending with someone from Alex Atkin's unit on the grass.
The numbers from Saturday back up the success that this unit is starting to see. According to PFF, six players finished with a pass rush grade above 60, which means they had an above-average performance or higher. Duke quarterbacks threw for an atrocious 36% completion percentage and less than 100 yards. When the Seminoles “earned the right to rush the passer,” as Fabien Lovett loves to say, they made an impact even with zero sacks. No stat told the story more on the pass rush than Florida State’s ability to get off the field on third down. Duke averaged 7.9 yards to go on the “cash down” and went 4/12, proving that they could not move the ball in an obvious passing situation. As this unit stays fresh throughout the year, expect opposing teams to produce little movement in passing situations.
Tight end takeover
When FSU struggled to move the ball on Saturday, they turned to the tight end room, and the group turned into the safety blanket again on Tuesday. In the middle portion of 11 on 11 work, the FSU offense struggled to move the ball. After four straight plays of negative or zero yardage, Brock Glenn found Markeston Douglas over the middle for a 15-yard completion and then hit Kyle Morlock on an out route. This steadied the ship for the offense and helped them keep their heads high after a rocky start to the period. The trend of tight-end involvement carried over from Saturday’s game, where tight ends combined for 14 targets and pushed the Seminole offense over the line. Alex Atkins on Monday went on a long tangent of each tight end’s impact in the Duke game, praising their “buy-in” and the influence he saw from that unit in the run game. On national tight ends weekend, seeing them be the difference makers in games or practice is no surprise.
Mike Norvell’s media availability and Lawrance Toafili and Tatum Bethune’s interviews are below. FSU will be back in the gridiron tomorrow for another open practice.
Head Coach Mike Norvell
RB Lawrance Toafili
LB Tatum Bethune
Video courtesy Noles247