Tuesday and Wednesday looked like mirror images of each other.
Mike Norvell, who for the entire season begs for consistency, is finally getting what he desires.
On situational football day, the defense and offense produced moments of excitement for the coaching staff, and they each had limited mental errors. The themes from yesterday carried forward as fundamentals became a highlight of the day. This week allows Florida State to clean up those basic errors that reared their ugly head on film, and the Seminoles are trying to take advantage. In his press conference, Norvell noted that "there was good work on both sides of the ball... just trying to stress those areas of improvement.” The energy inside the facility was palpable as the players were excited to get off their feet and rest up over the weekend.
As always, three themes stood out above the rest.
Fentrell Cypress II
As noted yesterday, Johnny Wilson got the better of the Virginia practice during Tuesday’s practice. Cypress did not like the same mistakes plaguing him today. Early in practice, he notched a pass break up on a Johnny Wilson in route during 11 on 11. He continued his ball-hawking skills later in the day, catching an interception in the back of the end zone during 11 on 11 red zone work. The defense lined up in zone, and Cypress broke on the ball, making a high degree of difficulty catch as he just managed to get his toes down before falling out of bounds. Seeing the performance from Cypress allowed the coaches to produce a sigh of relief. The corner seemed to be one of the best players on the roster during fall camp, but that has yet to translate onto the field to start the year. PFF grades #23 with a 60.9 coverage grade to start the season, and he lost multiple 1-on-1s in the Clemson game. Fentrell produces all the tools to be a true shutdown corner, and days like today should start to turn the tide on a difficult start to the season.
Early in the season, I predicted that the linebackers would be the key to this defense's high ceiling. After two straight weeks of one of Randy Shannon’s players breaking the rock and a 4-0 start, the prediction seems to be true. This unit never lacks energy or effort. Even during bye week practices, this crew hit incredibly hard. The pads pop during every drill, and the patented thump can be heard across the facility. During 11 on 11s the last two days, a linebacker must be told not to wrap up as hard on players since this is a lighter week. The results from practice translate to the field. In each of their first four games, a linebacker sprinted down here and blew up the opposing ball carrier, changing the game's momentum. The improvements from Lundy and DeLoach flipped the room on its head, and the defense benefited. After a week off, expect this group to play with their hair on fire on October 7th at 3:30.
My parents asked me after Saturday’s game why FSU kept slinging the ball down the field on 1 on 1 deep ball and not taking anything underneath. They would be happy to hear about how Jordan Travis distributed the ball on Wednesday.
As the Seminole defense continued to work on their zone work, the shorter throws to the running backs were ripe for the picking at the morning practice. JT did not try to force the ball down the field, and the offense did not have an issue picking up gains of 6 yards. Trey Benson, who met with the media today, highlighted some of the passing game work, saying, “All of us can catch in the room, and down the road, you will see that for sure.” The Seminole offense will continue to lean on the check-down game as it has reaped benefits to start the season. In each game, a running back made a difficult catch in a crucial moment to extend the drive. As FSU looks to improve on third down and see more double teams on their receivers, the check-down pass plays should become more abundant.
FSU will be off its feet for the end of the week, and on Monday, they will be back to work preparing for the Hokies.
Head Coach Mike Norvell
OL Maurice Smith
RB Trey Benson
Video courtesy Noles247