A hurricane warning flag flew from the top of Dunlap Tuesday morning.
If anyone needed reminding, a storm will arrive in Tallahassee on Saturday afternoon.
The Seminoles took the practice field Tuesday, and as Mike Norvell said, “Nobody needed a motivational speech.”
“I liked the energy, liked the intensity that the guys brought to the practice field...I thought the guys came out and worked hard.”
On the day, this felt like the most consistent practice the offense put on display in weeks. During the first 11 on 11 period, both the first and second-team offenses scored touchdowns for what seemed to be the first time all year. The offensive line did well in protection, the receivers ran crisp routes, and Jordan Travis consistently put the ball on time and on target. It was a sight for sore eyes as the unit sputtered for stretches against Pitt last weekend and faces a ferocious defense line on Saturday.
During a passionate morning, three themes stood out above the rest.
Welcome back, No. 14. After being severely limited or unavailable the last few weeks of practice, the 6’7 receiver strode into practice in a regular contact jersey.
He did not miss a beat.
On the first 11 on 11 period of the day, Johnny Wilson caught a 30-yard touchdown pass for JT. The defense looked to be in zone coverage as Wilson sprinted past Shyehim Brown, and the ball hit him right between the 1 and the 4 for 6. I glanced at Norvell, and he could not hide his grin. Wilson continued his dominant day during 1-on-1s, as he made his patented back shoulder reception, but with an extra degree of difficulty. He used his right hand to snatch the ball out of the air and over Fentrell Cypress for a circus catch. Mike Norvell spoke highly of his talented receiver post-practice.
“He is training and has done a good job in his preparation...I know he got some work in this week, got some work in last week...hopeful for what it could be.”
Even for all of Keon’s greatness, JT and JW seem to be the connection with the most chemistry. With Johnny back in the fray, the offense took themselves out of neutral and smashed on the gas Tuesday morning. A healthy Johnny Wilson Saturday changes the entire complexion of the game and allows for a fully open Norvell offense.
To win a game of this weekend’s magnitude, stars must be stars.
If Tuesday’s practice is any indication, the big-name ‘Noles will be firing on all cylinders.
Jared Verse, for all the poor dialogue around the country, can never be blocked during practice. During the early 11 on 11 period, he quickly sniffed out the read option and collapsed hard on the running back for no gain. When the offensive line and defensive line did their usual Tuesday running game drills, multiple linemen needed to pick themselves up off the grass from a silky swim move by the Albany transfer. Verse put all his rushing moves on display Tuesday as he finished off the day with a swat-swat on the offensive tackle’s hands and forced Norvell to blow the play dead as he put his paw on Brock Glenn. His PFF numbers Saturday were not stunning, as he received most of his grades hovered around 60, which equals an average rating. But, like the last few weeks, he continues to see the field over 50% of the time. Earlier this year, Mike Norvell mentioned not wanting his defensive linemen to play more than 50% of the team’s snaps to keep them fresh for the year. However, Verse’s undeniable talent and effectiveness on third down leaves the coach no choice but to keep him on the field.
Jared Verse and the defensive front may have their stiffest test this Saturday against a massive, physical Miami offensive line. They will be ready to bring the fight.
What a turnaround for the freshman this weekend. After being on the field during the coverage bust that sent Konata Mumpfield barreling through the Seminole secondary, he ended the day with his first career interception. The freshman continues to earn playing time and earned his best defensive grade of the year from PFF, an impressive 78.7.
Tuesday's practice had Hussey pick up where he left off from Saturday. The South Florida native flew downhill during the middle parts of 11 on 11 work and blew up a read option in the making with his pressure. He recovered well after getting beat early in a route during 1-on-1s and created a pass breakup. He drew cheers from Patrick Surtain Sr. Hussey, who said he never went to an FSU-Miami game spoke with the media about his excitement for Saturday.
“It’s a pretty big game. There’s a lot of old friends that we got on that team. We are just trying to go day by day and put our best foot forward for this game.”
Even with a top 100 rating coming out of high school, most of the Seminole staff did not think Hussey would adjust to the game this quickly. He has been invaluable for the safety room that supposedly lacked depth coming into the year. Look for Hussey to make an impact in a game where many of his “friends and family” will attend.
That’s all for today; the Seminoles have an open practice tomorrow as they prepare for the Hurricanes. Mike Norvell and the player’s media availability is below.
Head Coach Mike Norvell
DB Fentrell Cypress
DB Conrad Hussey
Video courtesy Noles247