Florida State does not play an opponent this week but do not let Mike Norvell know.
Even during a bye week, the Seminoles came out with their usual energy and intensity in their first action since defeating Clemson on Saturday. There were no black jerseys on the scout team today, and practice finished earlier than usual; even with the importance of keeping focus and energy high, this week is essential for the Seminoles to get the chance to rest up and get their legs back underneath them.
A visibly pleased Norvell met with the media after saying he felt today “was a really good day...proud of players... they worked at a really high level.” It would be easy for the Seminoles to loaf through the first practice after an emotional win, but that word is not in the team dictionary.
On a shorter day, three themes stood out above the rest.
Florida State can reassess where the team needs work during the bye week. No surprise here; the Seminole coaching staff wanted to get back to the basics and work on technique for the beginning part of practice. The wide receivers worked on blocking, the secondary worked on tackling, and the big uglies practiced recovering fumbles.
When adversity rises up in a football game, often, fundamentals fail the players. The coaching staff knows that the easy tasks become hard without the baseline, and the challenging tasks become impossible.
After the first round of drills, the usual focus on turnovers took over the Dunlap practice facility. The defensive backs looked to rip the ball out of the offensive player’s hands while the staff reminded those under siege to keep the ball high and dry. After a game where the decisive stat was the turnovers on each side, the players’ understanding of its importance rose to a new level. The coaching staff identified the turnover battle as a way to take the squad to the next level, and no matter what week of the year it is, they will be a focus.
Norvell yells “respond” almost more than he screams anything else. Johnny Wilson heard the coach’s message loud and clear.
After the Southern Mississippi low point, Wilson, throughout practice, has brought a new level of focus and intensity. Wilson never sat still in any training session in the last two weeks, including today. He constantly receives pass-catching work or has multiple tennis balls thrown his way at one time. The work produced sparkling results in the last two games, and he soared in practice Tuesday morning. The one-on-one portion of practice turned into a Johnny Wilson pat on the back tour. He went over Fentrell Cypress multiple times, high-pointing the ball and using strong hands to come down with the pass. Mike Norvell loved every second of his 6’7 receiver finally returning to his own. Wilson carried over his play into 11 on 11 work, grabbing the ball over the middle to break the FSU zone defense as he lined up in the slot. With two physical stars on the outside, the Seminoles create an advantage that few teams can match.
Winston Wright and Destyn Hill
Usually, I like to highlight players individually, but if the FSU depth chart uses an OR, why can’t I?
Both slot receivers have inspiring stories that even brought them back to the football field, but the results are not where they expected coming into the season. They each compete incredibly hard daily, and today’s rainy practice was no different. The receivers took turns in the slot, constantly turning defenders and leaving them in the dust. Destyn Hill ran the silkiest route of the day, an in-and-out route that left Kevin Knowles stranded after the play. These two playmakers need to get involved in the offense more as the season wears on. With defenses most likely requiring a double team on Johnny and Keon, the middle of the field should be wide open. The shifty pass catchers need to benefit from the matchups and take advantage.
A shorter day of practice today; however, FSU returns to the field tomorrow for another open-media session during their bye week.
Head Coach Mike Norvell
DB Jarrian Jones
DE Patrick Payton
Video Courtesy Noles247