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Situational Wednesday: FSU hones in on red zone improvement in a “spirited” practice

The Seminoles worked extensively on third downs as well during a wet, gloomy morning

Charles Mays/Tomahawk Nation

Two themes carried over from Tuesday in Tallahassee: weather and intensity.

The Seminoles are not taking their eyes off the opponent this week, with practices as intense as the first week of the year. Mike Norvell called today a “spirited” practice, with chippiness as common as the raindrops falling. The intensity came from the Seminole's scheduled situational Wednesday, pinning the offense and defense against each other all day.

The first 11-on-11 period began with Jordan Travis staring down the field's length with 52 seconds left. After leading his team down into field goal range last week, the offense did not cross midfield, resulting in a defensive win. The offense responded later in the day, executing at a high level in the red zone for a balanced day on both sides of the ball. A soaked Mike Norvell spoke to the media after practice and spoke highly of his group.

“Competitive on both sides of the ball, thought guys were getting after it...last two days have been good work days, and we are excited for this week and the last home game that we get to play.”

During an “emotional” practice, three themes stood out above the rest.

Red Zone offense

Situational Wednesday called for extensive red zone work. After starting the year with the best red area offense in the country, Florida State kicked two field goals inside the 20 on Saturday and needs to improve. Jordan Travis and his group spent around half an hour trying to get this part of the game back in rhythm.

It should look better on Saturday.

Jordan Travis and Tate Rodemaker took turns threading the ball on Wednesday as they elevated their precision. No.13 and Ja’khi Douglas were on the same page the entire period, and the slot receiver was the recipient of JT’s accuracy. When Rodemaker checked into the offense, nothing seemed to change. He made quick decisions while putting the ball threw tight windows to pound the ball into the end zone. Mike Norvell threw his hands up in the air in excitement multiple times as he noticed the improvement. After practice, the head man discussed how the Seminoles look to refine in the red zone.

“We’ve got to make sure that when we’re in that area of the field, we’re playing our best. We got good work out of there again today, and our guys they understand it. Now it’s time to go do it.”

After this week, the competition stiffens. Florida State must turn field goals into touchdowns to take the Gators and an ACC opponent (likely Louisville) out of the game early and keep their eyes on the playoff.

Braden Fiske

The defensive tackle snap count leader against Miami once more led by example with his play during practice. Fiske felt at home with the wicked weather and played that way. The Western Michigan transfer forced most of the offense’s negative plays in the red zone. On a Jordan Travis read option, he quickly got off his block and wrapped up Lawrance Toafili in the backfield. On the ensuing play, Fiske and his running mate Patrick Payton partied in the backfield and forced a throwaway. He continued his dominant day during 1-on-1s, as he overpowered guards with his bull rush and forced quick whistles from the coaching staff. No surprise seeing his Fisk’e play excel this week as he wants his final game in Doak to be memorable during Senior Day Saturday.

“To go out there and do it one more time is going to be special. Where I was a year ago or two years ago, this has been nothing but beneficial for me.”

The feeling is mutual from the Florida State side. Fiske transcended the defensive tackle room, especially with Darell Jackson Jr. being forced to sit out for a year, and was instrumental in stopping the run against Miami. Braden Fiske seemed ready for the challenge of facing double teams and finished up the day with an above-average run defense grade, according to PFF, which seemed impossible the way the first half went. As Fiske takes Bobby Bowden field for his final time as a Seminole, his story proves how valuable the transfer portal can be.

Ja’Khi Douglas

An argument can be made for the speedy slot receiver being the most improved player on the Seminole’s roster. After starting the year with an upper-body injury that sidelines him for the first month, he was in a three-way competition for the starting inside receiver. He struggled with drops during games and heavily during practice for the last month until the Pittsburgh game, where everything seemed to click. The redshirt junior followed up that performance with the longest catch of the day for the ‘Noles that broke the offense out of their funk, and put points up on the board. During practice Wednesday, he proved why he and Jordan Travis have so much chemistry. Travis’ eyes consistently went his way during red zone work, and he finished with two touchdowns, one against the starters and one against the scouts. He followed up his strong play with an impressive 1 on 1 win against the defense. Jarrian Jones held Xavier Restrepo, a top slot receiver in the country, to zero catches last Saturday. Still, at practice today, Douglas got the better of the senior and hauled in a difficult slant catch. As teams are forced to keep two safeties high to protect against Johnny Wilson and Keon Coleman, the middle of the field is opening up just in time for Ja’Khi Douglas to make his mark on the year.

That’s it for practice this week, as the next time we see Florida State will be Saturday evening. Mike Norvell and student-athlete availability can be seen below.

Head Coach Mike Norvell

LG Casey Roddick

Video courtesy Noles247

RG D’Mitri Emmanuel

Video courtesy Warchant