“It’s a very small margin for error!”
This phrase, shouted out by a coaching assistant during Wednesday’s practice, encompasses the challenge Florida State is presented with this weekend as the Seminoles returned to work after a difficult practice the day before.
The No. 4 Seminoles (3-0, 1-0 ACC) have not won in Death Valley in a decade and, as the betting favorite with lofty goals for 2023, are the team where the pressure lies. The speaker system inside the Albert J. Dunlap Athletic Training Facility continued to roar throughout the morning as FSU preps for the hostile environment that awaits the squad in Clemson. Both sides of the ball worked on situational football, namely red zone and third down work. There was an emphasis all of practice on ball security after the two fumbles last week.
On a day where the offense bounced back, there were a few stars of the day.
Jordan Travis. 55 seconds to drive the ball into field goal range. Starting on the 30-yard line.
Situational football was today’s headline. Mike Norvell usually designates Wednesday as situational football day and brings his patented energy to simulate the intensity needed for each rep. Unsurprisingly, during the coach’s opening statement with the media, he felt his team played with a “significant edge,” which is a feature he felt his team lacked in Boston.
The defense prevented them from going past midfield, and the offense struggled early but found their groove later in the day. On this particular drive, the defense did a great job in their zone coverage on the back end, keeping No. 13 in the pocket. However, the offense scored later in practice with a touchdown during 2-point conversion drills (a pass from Travis to Douglas), and they put up 6 in the red zone portion of practice (Travis to Coleman). 3rd down work was a feature on the day, as the Seminoles look to improve this portion of their game after being subpar last weekend.
Florida State will need to be sharp in these moments on Saturday to keep the team in it and not let the Clemson crowd on top of them early. Today produced positive results and will hopefully be a turning point for the team.
One of the Seminole’s top receivers did not record a catch on Saturday, and naturally, the reaction was, “why?”
For whatever reason, No. 4 did not put up his best game against the Eagles, but today proved that his only focus is on Clemson. Coleman looked like the version that showed up against LSU during team and individual drills, scoring during both portions. The Michigan State transfer produced one of his trademark fade routes during 1-on-1s and caught the ball high above his head in the end zone's back corner. He then scored during red zone work with an in-route that busted the zone, and he glided into the end zone. During work against the scout team, Coleman seemingly caught every ball, as every time I looked up, Keon was wide open over the middle of the field. His ability to break down and change direction presents issues for every secondary player he faces and leads to acres of space over the middle.
The body language from No. 4 told how he felt the day went as he danced pre-snap to the music blaring over the speakers. Johnny and Keon seem to be in rhythm coming into a game when they will face their most challenging secondary to date.
Last season, Benson never went down at first contact and surprised fans and coaches with how special a runner he is. The success has been challenging this season for the preseason All-ACC running back, even after a three-touchdown performance against Southern Mississippi. Today was another step in the right direction as Benson made plays in both the run and pass game. Benson caught multiple screen passes during the team drills and demonstrated how exceptional an athlete he is when he gets into the open field. The outside run game built on their progress from yesterday as Benson rushed multiple times for 5 yards or more.
Norvell downplayed any concern with the running back yesterday during his media time, and like several players on this team, it’s only a matter of time before he breaks through.
Florida State will have a closed-door practice tomorrow before they head up to South Carolina on Friday.
Head Coach Mike Norvell
Of note: Norvell said that freshman quarterback Brock Glenn will be out for a few weeks due to injury:
“He’s not available but we’ll get him back within the season. Just continue to progress with him.”
QB Jordan Travis
TE Jaheim Bell
Video courtesy Noles247