The clock read 0:48 seconds, and Maurice Smith snapped the ball to Jordan Travis on the 35-yard line.
No, this is not the ending to the 2021 Miami game — it was October 4, 2023, part of Florida State’s designated “situation Wednesday,” when the team focuses its attention on the areas of the game that serve as the difference between winning and losing.
Practice started with the offense needing a field goal with less than a minute remaining. Travis led a marvelous drive down the field, ending with a 32-yard Ryan Fitzgerald miss (he made the rest of his kicks on the day). Since the season began, this was the farthest the offense moved the ball in this drill: a sight for sore eyes.
Both phases of the ball battled back and forth throughout the day on third down work and red zone plays, with the offense ending with the slight upper hand. Norvell seemed pleased with the day but knew the Seminoles could have executed at a higher level.
“We are really pushing our guys this week — getting a little bit more of the speed work, and I like the way guys responded. Wednesday practice working third down stuff, obviously that is a huge emphasis for us.”
As always, three themes stood out on the last open media practice before the Seminoles’ matchup against Virginia Tech.
If Mike Norvell won the award for most excited for the bye week to be over, the Seminoles’ signal caller wins the award for most refreshed coming out of the open week. Perhaps no one needed this week off more than him, and it shows. The ball looks so clean coming out of the hand this week, and each pass seems to be thrown with extra pop. His deep balls look like the version of Russell Wilson when he was with Seattle, thrown on time that drops out of the sky right into the receiver's gloves. Travis’ consistency may be the best attribute he displayed this week, as he followed up a positive performance yesterday with masterful work under center today.
During 11-on-11 game action, he extended the play multiple times, finding Coleman late for a first down on one play and gaining 15 yards with his legs on another. His chemistry with Ja’Khi Douglas seems to have picked up where it left off last year, as he found the slot receiver over the middle twice during red zone work today. JT looks revitalized and healthy, with the entire playbook opening up to him coming out of the bye.
With the constant injuries up front, the “Swiss army knife,” as Washington is called, has moved through all five positions along the offensive line. He continues elevating his game, and he steps up when his number is called. Today, this time at left tackle, he stopped Jared Verse during the 1 on 1 period of practice. For insight, Verse virtually cannot be blocked during these morning periods. To slow him down, much less wall him off, is a sight to be seen. However, despite limited reps at the position, Washington swatted away the defensive end's hands and stopped his feet as Alex Atkins blew his whistle to stop the play. PFF grades him as a center, where he boasts above-average grades in both run blocking (72.6) and pass blocking (76.9). During his media availability today, Mike Norvell spoke glowingly of his veteran lineman and what makes him so valuable to the football squad.
“His versatility at what he does and the ability that he has. He has had an interesting college journey. You look at some of the injuries that he’s dealt with, some of the offseasons that he has missed, but he is a (warrior). I told him today, I just love coaching you... he is very smart, has got a diverse skill set. You can’t really put into words what he means to this team.”
Norvell never relinquishes a chance to support his players, but with comments like those, his impact stretches much further than just a “Swiss army knife.”
As always, with a situational work day, the special teams take focus. Mike Norvell and his staff spent around half the practice working on punt and kickoff returns, along with the formations they may see from the Hockies. At one point, Florida State had 6(!) coaches all working with the punt return team to ensure that the unit would be executing at the highest level on Saturday afternoon.
Alex Mastromanno spoke to the media Wednesday morning after a solid first four weeks of the season. He mentioned that he noticed Ryan Fitzgerald “make the most of his opportunities,” and on his end, “I just try to go out and do my best job.” The punter flipped the field multiple times in the Clemson game, and focusing on the third phase produced a strength for the Seminoles.
That is it for practice this week, as the rest will be closed to the media before a 3:30 kick on Saturday afternoon.
Head Coach Mike Norvell
Defensive back Renardo Green
Punter Alex Mastromanno
Video courtesy Warchant.com