Update, 12:35 PM
Mike Norvell opened up North Carolina game week with his noon press conference today. The Seminoles’ head coach had a positive attitude coming off the Notre Dame game, happy with his team’s effort and fight. He said, “Really pleased with the way our guys competed. Think we took a step in the right direction in that regard.”
Much of FSU’s step forward has come since Jordan Travis took over at QB. Norvell said what he did in South Bend was nothing short of impressive. On Travis’ performance he said, “It was definitely impressive. One of the reasons I named him starter was to see how he handled that. For him, I wanted him to know that this was his opportunity. His poise, his composure, the playmaking ability, it was impressive.”
The Seminoles defense is in a major slump. Much of the struggles have come against the run. On the defensive struggles against the Fighting Irish, Norvell said, “Defensively, we have to do a better job of eliminating the explosive play. Notre Dame has a great offensive front. They did a great job of executing their game plan... We’ve got to continue to get more production from our four up front. The effort was there, but we have to get better with our consistent technique.”
The Seminoles will face a top five team for the second straight week for just the second time in school history on Saturday against UNC. On the tough slate the ‘Noles have had to face, Norvell said, “It provides a great opportunity for our guys. It definitely adds a sense of urgency in everything we need to do. We’re excited about the opportunity to be back at home.”
Mack Brown has quickly turned around the Tar Heel program. Norvell has an ongoing relationship with Brown since he called some of his Memphis game as an announcer. The two have stayed in touch for multiple years, and now they’ll face off for the first time on Saturday. On Brown, Norvell said, “Could not respect a man more than I respect Mack Brown. Great coach, incredible person.”
Update, 12:40 PM
Offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham was second on the mic today, as he spoke about the offensive’s progression under Jordan Travis. Travis has given them a consistent attack on offense since taking over. On his performance, Dillingham said, “I think he did a really nice job. The best thing I saw from him was he did a really nice job getting the information we were giving him and applying it.”
Tamorrion Terry has seemed to turn a corner and responded to the challenge since the Miami game. Terry had his best game of the season this past week in South Bend. On his production, the OC said, “I think Terry has done a phenomenal job working the last few weeks. He has been one of those guys who has changed the way they prepare in practice, Pokey Wilson too. It’s starting to show up.”
The Seminoles’ offense sustained multiple long drives against the Fighting Irish. A lot of that had to do with less penalties and missed assignments. On sustaining drives, Dillingham said, “We didn’t kill ourselves. From a penalty standpoint, we didn’t put ourselves behind the sticks. We are not consistently making mistakes.”
The biggest difference for FSU’s offense since the first two games has been consistency. They’re able to put multiple good plays together, besides just a couple at a time. On extending drives, Dillingham said, “Right now we can string together series of 7 or 8 plays where all 11 guys are doing the right thing. We could only do that for 1 or 2 plays consecutively earlier in the season. Combine that with Jordan’s ability with his feet.”
Freshman Robert Scott has already been called upon to make two starts. He’s responded to that challenge well, as Dillingham said, “He’s a fighter. All he knows is how to compete, all he knows is working. He is the definition of how a freshman gets on the field. I have been extremely pleased with how he has been playing.”
Update, 1:00 PM
We also heard from Florida State defensive coordinator Adam Fuller this afternoon. The defense has really struggled this season, and Fuller has been under a lot of heat from fans. Despite the struggles, Fuller is excited about the effort he’s seen from his players. He said, “We were trying to be aggressive earlier in the game. It wasn’t a good overall performance for sure. But I was proud of the fight late in the game and the effort. We’ve got good kids.”
This season is absolutely critical to the development of many young players on the defense. On the individual development from his defensive players, Fuller said, “There has been some of it, but obviously not enough. I have faith in our players, I really do. Our job as coaches is to show them what it looks like every day. Confidence is built with preparation.”
Almost all defenses around the country have struggled early on, with scoring at an all-time high. But Fuller doesn’t think that has any connection to his team and it isn’t an excuse. He said, “Maybe this is the wrong answer, but I don’t care. I don’t really connect that to what has happened with us. Our job is to stop people, and we haven’t done that enough.”
North Carolina will present another daunting challenge for the Seminoles offense. On Sam Howell and the production they’re putting on the field, Fuller said, “They are operating at a high level. Running the football, they’ve got wideouts who deliver. They are an absolute challenge from sideline to sideline.”
Fuller knows that his players need the coaches to be there for them right now. “These players need us, they need us to show them the right way.” He also said he tries to be as “Real, honest, though-provoking, and consistent” in his coaching.
Update, 1:10 PM
Special teams coordinator and defensive ends coach John Papuchis rounded off the day speaking on the performance of his ST unit and the defensive line. The ‘Noles got a takeaway on the punt coverage on Saturday as Deonte Sheffield picked up a fumble. That fumble recovery came off effort, as Papuchis said, “I thought our coverage consistently throughput the game was good, and the effort was good. I thought it was the consistent effort that led to that opportunity.”
Ryan Fitzgerald was a positive for the ‘Noles on Saturday after a tough performance against Jacksonville State. Papuchis knows he can count on him going forward and is excited for his future. “He has done a really good job. The thing I like are his mechanics have been really solid. He is a young guy, and he has a lot of football ahead of him.”
Alex Mastromanno is another young performer in the special teams. On his growth into American football and his performance in the punt game so far, Papuchis said, “I think he has done a really good job, I thought this past week was his best performance. I am really pleased with his progress.”
Despite the record, Papuchis mentioned that his coaching style never changes. He just wants to be honest with his players. On his coaching style, he said, “Be truthful, honest, and coach the way you have always coached. Be non-results based in your teaching. If all you are concerned about are the results with your teaching, I don’t think you’ll ever be where you want to be with your program.”
Florida State Seminoles football — for just the second time in school history — is facing off against the No. 5 team in the country for a second straight week.
In a year in which FSU has already faced two top ten teams in the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Miami-Florida Hurricanes, the Seminoles now welcome to town the newly-crowned No. 5 North Carolina Tar Heels.
FSU fought hard against Notre Dame, even leading heading into the second quarter and being within one score until late, but defensive lapses and missed opportunities on offense shut down the upset bid.
“For a lot of different reasons — coaches, players, everybody involved,” head coach Mike Norvell said after Saturday’s loss, “we didn’t do what was necessary to beat the top-whatever-they’re-ranked in the country. We have to continue to work.
“We don’t do things for moral victories...I want to see us play our best ball. I want to be able to take the things we do throughout the course of the week of practice, I want to see it applied.”
We’ll be talking with Norvell, and anticipate to be hearing from offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Kenny Dillingham, defensive coordinator Adam Fuller and special teams coordinator and defensive ends coach John Papuchis.
You can follow along both in the comment section and on our Twitter, and in the meantime, drop any questions you have in the comments and we’ll try to get to them.