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Situational Wednesday: FSU preps for ACC Championship matchup vs. Louisville

The second day in a row of shorter practice produced highlight reel catches, a focus on 3rd downs, and an energetic Mike Norvell

Peyton Baker/Tomahawk Nation

The Seminoles will be ready for Charlotte in more ways than one.

With nasty weather forecasted in Charlotte, the Noles received a double dose of cold temperatures over the last two days. Unfortunately, the chilly air seemed to make an impact on their play. The offense looked disjointed, Mike Norvell raised his voice more than usual, and practice ended early for the second day. With this in mind, the head man spoke after practice about the effort needed to come on Saturday.

“Excited for the opportunity that’s ahead. We’ve got to continue to push and focus on the details. It’s the little things that are going to make the difference in the championship game.”

Florida State focused extensively on situational play Wednesday, which always seems to be the difference between winning and losing essential games. On a frigid morning, three themes stood out above the rest.

Situational Football

Wednesday calls for a new addition every practice. The score clocks were up with 52 seconds plugged into the screen. However, the Seminoles only played for a half minute before Mike Norvell ended the session. During this one-minute drill, the offense took a delay of game and then a false start before the drive began. The concerning trend continues. The following play resulted in a Lawrance Toafili catch and run, but after back-to-back incompletions, the head man saw enough. Later in the day, the chain gang brought out 3rd down markers as the Seminoles worked on their “cash down” offense. In their last three games, Florida State went 3/12, 4/11, and 4/14, dating back to Miami. A change will be needed come Saturday. The work was a mixed bag, as the offense made some tremendous plays while being inefficient on others. Poor snaps resulted in the QBs getting off rhythm and can be attributed to the inconsistent play. The defense looked impressive as Adam Fuller’s third down packages have turned the season around and become a strength of the team. Finally, during the only goal-line play of the day, the defense came out victorious. Jared Verse presented good eyes and blew up the play, resulting in the defensive end loudly but humorously, letting the offense know who #5 is. Mike Norvell, after practice, did not go into detail about the sessions but said that his team “Got in some situational work and are continuing to push.” With rain forecasted for Saturday, points will be at a premium. The Seminoles must take advantage of the opportunities presented by keeping drives alive and scoring 6, not 3.

The QBs

Not to cause panic, but each signal caller could have performed better on Wednesday. Tate Rodemaker looked indecisive in his decisions and still needed help knowing when his throws needed zip or air. Brock Glenn processed information quickly for the second day but made true freshman mistakes. His issue results from inconsistency, where he will do everything right one play, and then Mike Norvell will be in his year the next. AJ Duffy has been steady the last two practices but has not put on display any eye-popping displays or impressive moments. Not all of the miscues on offense can be blamed on the quarterbacks. Many wide receivers dropped simple passes on strictly route-running drills with no defense. At least five snaps hit the turf during 11 on 11 or scout teamwork throughout the day, which created a livid Alex Atkins. After practice, Mike Norvell did not seem concerned about the up-and-down play from his QBs.

“I think they’re embracing the challenge that they have against the team that we are going against, and they’re continuing to work through it.”

I think this can be attributed to an offensive needing to re-find its identity. Tate still displayed solid moments, just like he did against Florida. The question becomes whether he will be ready for the stiffest test of the year after only two weeks of first-team reps. The answer will be found on Saturday night.

Johnny Wilson

When the bright moments shone through from the quarterbacks, #14 usually found himself on the receiving end. A few days after a team-leading six-catch 64-yard performance, Wilson consistently made challenging plays look routine. The birdman completed the ‘Seminoles' first third-down conversion of the day with an in-breaking route, resulting in a “first-down.” During the first 1-on-1 throw of the day, Johnny ran a post corner on Fentrell Cypress, and Tate threw a ball that only the 6’7 pass catcher could come down with, drawing cheers from the players. Later in those reps, the receivers and corners worked on goal-line routes, where guarding Wilson seemed unfair. He came down with a back-shoulder fade that looked like pitch and catch. After practice, Wilson spoke with the media and, like every other player on the roster, put his confidence in Tate Rodemaker.

“Tate’s been preparing for moments like this...one thing I praise Tate on is when he got in there, he didn’t panic. (He) stayed poised and did what he had to do.”

Clearly, the Valdosta native trusts Johnny Wilson. Almost every crucial moment in Saturday’s game, #18 looked his way. Now that Wilson seems completely healthy, he will be vital in securing an ACC championship win in Charlotte.

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

S Akeem Dent

WR Johnny Wilson

Video courtesy Warchant.com