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Situational Wednesday: Florida State emphasizes execution elevation ahead of Pitt game

The usual prep on third down, red zone, and one-minute drill were all systems go during a chilly Wednesday practice

Syndication: Tallahassee Democrat Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat / USA TODAY NETWORK

The College Football Playoff rankings came out for the first time yesterday, pinning Florida State at No. 4 as the committee apparently set expectations — one loss and the Seminoles might not travel to New Orleans or Pasadena, barring any other additional upsets at the top.

With this guideline clear, Mike Norvell knows his team needs to strive for perfection — in all aspects.

“I want every play to look and execute to the standard that we operate...those plays that if you miss out on them, those can be remembered in a really bad way.”

The Seminoles did not look burdened by the committee’s opinion on a chilly Wednesday morning. Today was the usual situational day, where the offense and defense competed in one-minute drill, third down, and red zone. The defense forced a stop early in the day, with the offense gaining their stride as Wednesday wore on. On a busy day on and off the field, three themes stood out above the rest.

Situational Wednesday

Practice usually feels different on “hump day,” and today was no different. The day started with the offense and defense competing in a one-minute drill. Jordan Travis and company took the ball on the 30-yard line, needing to march down the field for a touchdown. Travis valiantly tried to march his team down the field as he checked plays multiple times at the line, resulting in chunk yardage. Unfortunately, the drive stalled around the 30-yard line, where the Seminole defense stiffened. AZ Thomas and Greedy Vance worked well together in zone coverage and forced a 4th and long heave that fell on the garnet-painted grass by the end of the play.

During third down work, the offense struggled early but found its groove as the drive continued. The Seminoles continued their success on screenplays, leaking out Rodney Hill for one of the most significant gains on the day. Markeston Douglas also proved a steady factor, as his presence over the middle led to multiple conversions. Renardo Green and Shyheim Brown each finished the drill with a PBU, as they stuck with their receiver for an extended period and knocked the ball out right before the receiver could secure it.

The offense played their best football of the day in the red zone when they played head and shoulders above the defense. At one point, the offense scored on 4/5 red zone plays that were snapped from the 2 to the 12-yard line. The hero was Vendrevius Jacobs, who made multiple catches, including one slant pattern that he caught behind him and wrestled it away from an incoming DJ Lundy.

Florida State turned their season around with their play in these categories and should continue to improve on Saturday.

Darion Williamson

The Seminoles need the next man to step up when players go down. These last two days of practice, Williamson, especially today, headed the coaches' calls.

During the early 11-on-11 portion, the internal clock ran low in Jordan Travis’ head. He needed somewhere to go with the ball and heaved a back shoulder throw to Williamson, draped by Renardo Green. The 6’3 pass catcher made the spectacular look ordinary as he one-handed the ball out of the air and pinned it against his body. The theatrics did not stop there as #21 made highlight reel plays all practice. During the 1-on-1s, Darion first matched up against the lanky AZ Thomas, where he ran a silky comeback move on the 6’2 corner and came down with the completion. When the Seminoles practiced 1-on-1s in the end zone, Williamson, this time, looked across the field to see one of the Seminole’s best cover corners in Renardo Green. Williamson made a Keon Coleman-like play as he wrestled for position on a fade route and cleanly caught the ball next to Green. The ascending play has been noticeable in and outside practice as Darion came down with a reception against Wake Forest. However, post-practice, he gave the Tennessee native his flowers.

“We’ve all seen the flashes of what Darion could be...he could be a special player...he’s going to continue to ascend, and we expect him to make an impact.

With the health of the receiver room still in question, Darion Williamson looks to continue to raise his game.

Offensive Line

I have quickly criticized Alex Atkins’ group performance throughout fall camp and practice this season. However, this unit seems to be turning a corner in games and the practice field. The offensive line rotation appears to be paying dividends, as November 1st felt like the best practice for this group in a while. Maurice Smith and company checked plays at the line, had no procedure penalties, and did well against simulated pressures. During 1-on-1s against the defensive line, the offense won the first 3/4 battles, including Darius Washington’s decisive victory against Jared Verse. Jeremiah Byers mentioned he could feel himself and his teammates rounding into form when meeting with the media post-practice.

“It shows you how big the unit go out there and execute with eight, and there is no drop-off...I got (Patrick Payton and Jared Verse) a little bit today, but we are not going to talk about it.”

The numbers reflect the unit’s success, as PFF rated 4 out of the 5 Seminole started a pass blocking grade of 68 and above. As Jordan Travis looks to keep the offensive humming, the offensive line will be a big reason he does.

That is all from practice this week; the next time the Seminoles meet with the media will be Saturday at 3:30 in Pennsylvania.

Head Coach Mike Norvell

OL Jeremiah Byers