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Florida State football practice updates: November 18

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Defense takes the podium

ehyman@newsobserver.com

Update, 11:40 AM

Florida State head coach Mike Norvell spoke today for the last time before the Clemson game on Saturday. After announcing a handful of roster updates last Wednesday, it was another day of season-ending injuries for Florida State. Norvell announced that Chubba Purdy had surgery yesterday and is done for the year. He said, “We will definitely have him for spring.” He also mentioned Jordan Travis has been active throughout the week.

Norvell also announced that defensive back Meiko Dotson is done for the year with an injury. We only saw the FAU-transfer see action in the UNC game, where he flashed a few times. Norvell said Dotson 100% plans on returning to Florida State next year. FSU has been hit by the injury bug all season. On the injuries, Norvell said, “It definitely been a unique year in all aspects. In all reality, it’s about our response to it. I hate it for anyone that has been injured or has had to miss time.”

Hamsah Nasirildeen is another player who has dealt with injury this year, as he saw his first action of the season last week. The safety flashed on a couple plays early, but didn’t make much noise in Raleigh due to a limited snap count. On Nasirildeen, Norvell said, “Just an incredible young man. He’s a competitor. We had him on a snap count last week. We’re excited about raising that number up. I love being around him.”

With Purdy out for the season and Travis having lingering health issues, Tate Rodemaker will likely see action again this season behind center. He’ll also be the only other active QB. On the freshman quarterback, Norvell said, “He’s growing up. Its been fun to watch his development. Definitely an intelligent young man. Every play that he takes, he’s somebody that absorbs the information.”

Florida State will likely try to patch up their 2021 roster with transfers. The portal will be more full than ever, with everyone getting a free year of eligibility back this season. For FSU, it will be about finding the guys that fit their process. On transfers, Norvell said, “There’s definitely going to be some spots where we look to get a little more experience. It’s going to be a process that we’re going to work through. It’s all about finding the right fit.”

Update, 11:49 AM

Junior defensive tackle Robert Cooper was second to the podium today. Cooper has been one of the players that has stepped up his performance in recent weeks. The defense has consistently struggled this entire season, with little to no improvement being shown. Cooper still feels that it’s coming through their response. “Coach Norvell always emphasizes responding. I just try to build on everyday that I can, get better and respond every day.”

The improvement will come through the consistency of the details and fundamentals that the players are taught. Cooper mentioned that the work to hammer the little things has continued all season long. On how the defense improves, he said, “Just putting more focus on details. Focus on the little things and you’ll see big results. Full effort, full speed.”

With Marvin Wilson out for the season, Florida State has needed someone to step up on the interior, and Cooper has done that. Wilson has still been a team leader from the sidelines, but Cooper has taken it upon himself to be a leader on the field. On his leadership role, he said, “Just coming into that role, knowing what I gotta do. Just teaching them what I know, and we’ve all been learning new things.”

Update, 12:10 PM

Florida State defensive coordinator Adam Fuller spoke to the media today after a change in the schedule earlier this week. Fuller’s defense is still yet to see a bump up in production this year, with many of the same things still holding them back. The rush defense has been one area that has improved, especially against NC State. On the rush defense, Fuller said, “We’ve had some players at last the last two games playing together. Last week I think we did a better job in run defense. Overall I thought our effort was better up front.”

The short passing game has consistently hurt FSU this season. It often seems that QB’s have easy reads to wide open WR’s, with not much push back from Florida State. On the struggles of defending the short game, Fuller said, “Sometimes we’re bringing a plus blitz. Some of it is just guys who haven’t been out there much. Obviously, we don’t want to give up direct throws in pressure situations.”

Florida State has had many bad moments as a defense. They’ve also had flashes of good moments. Either way, every moment is a teaching moment for this coaching staff. “As a coach, you’re trying to make sure that every moment is a learning moment. We’re trying to get more consistent results. You’re trying to put together these lessons so we don’t repeat the mistakes.”

FSU’s defense is about to play one of the best offenses and QB’s in college football with Clemson coming to Doak Campbell stadium. Fuller knows they’re facing a massive challenge. On Clemson’s offense, he said, “They have good players at every level. They’ve been together for a long time. The coach has been there for a long time. We saw what the backup quarterback can do the past few weeks. They’ve got consistency in that program.”

The Seminoles have been extremely thin in the defensive back group the last few weeks. That lack of depth has led to some poor play and big numbers given up. On the defensive backs, he said, “We try to be really specific in our language before each play, where we wanna be tight or we wanna play off. Sometimes in the moment, guys freeze.”

Update, 12:18 PM

Freshman defensive back Sidney Williams spoke to the media for the first time today. Williams has been one of the lone bright spots in the defensive back group the last few weeks. He’s made it clear through his play that he’ll be one of the building blocks for Fuller and Norvell. On more playing time the last few weeks, Williams said, “The experience has been pretty good. I am just trying to get 1% better each day.”

Florida State got Nasirildeen back on the field just last week, but Williams said he’s been helping them all year. The safety has been a leader through his actions and words off the field. On Nasirildeen, Williams said, “I feel very comfortable with him. When he came back it sparked everyone. With him playing now, me and him are on the same page trying to build that bond. He brings that energy, he makes you wanna give it all you got.”

Clemson presents FSU’s toughest test so far this season, but Williams said they aren’t worried about the Tigers. They’re worried about the Seminoles, and focusing on their own process. “We don’t consider it an underdog role. We are focused on today. Trying to get better every day. We game plan for them, but we are worrying about us.”

Update, 12:30 PM

Defensive back Hamsah Nasirildeen was last to the podium today as he spoke about his season debut. Many people figured that Nasirildeen would sit out the year once FSU season’s looked bleak, but he never had that thought. Nasirildeen said, “There was never a point for that for me. People started getting that idea. But that was never part of my plan.”

Nasirildeen saw his first action of the season in Raleigh and made a tackle for loss on the first play of the game. He was shot out of a cannon to start the game. On his return to the field, he said, “When you’ve been doing something your whole life, and then it’s taken away from you, to be able to get back out there on the grass, and just participate in drills, it’s a blessing.”

During his time off the field, the senior was still one of the main leaders on the team. He makes sure to be a leader at all times to show his buy in to the coaches and younger guys. On being a leader, he said, “I just feel like I just bought into the team. Just help them in any ways that I could. Explaining playbook stuff to younger guys.”

FSU has struggled the entire season to find their footing on defense, but Nasirildeen sees the right path forward for Florida State. “We need to man up the best way that we can, and grow from it. The best way to do that is have a good attitude each day and try to get better.”


“We have to make sure that we truly treat each play as its own. We have to control what we can control, and play at the the highest level possible.”

“We want to maximize every down that we have. If we feel that we are in a position to go for it and extend drives, we gotta understand those situations. “

Florida State head coach Mike Norvell is facing another large hurdle in a tenure that’s been littered with them — taking on the No. 4 Clemson Tigers, who are regaining quarterback Trevor Lawrence after he missed two games.

“They’re a great football team,” head coach Mike Norvell said on Tuesday. “With Lawrence, he is a special talent. There’s not a whole lot of them that are like him out there, and [Etienne] is as good of a back as there is in the country.”

Today, Florida State’s defense is set to take the podium, as well as Norvell and defensive coordinator Adam Fuller, who had his Monday availability rescheduled to today. Norvell has also taken Wednesday to offer roster and personnel updates, and might do the same today. 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.