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Florida State practice notebook: November 4

FSU’s defense takes the podium

Florida State v Louisville Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Update, 11:28 AM

Florida State football head coach Mike Norvell spoke to the media on Wednesday morning after practice. Norvell spoke on the off day yesterday and the progression of FSU’s defense. For the second time this week, Norvell mentioned that he was pleased with the team’s effort in practice. “Really pleased with our guys’ attitude and effort. Still things we need to clean up. I thought the guys came out with the right mindset and approach. Overall, it was a good day.”

FSU’s rush defense has been gashed over and over this season. There are many things that have attributed to that, from personnel, scheme, and missed plays. On the struggle of the rush defense, Norvell said, “Whether it is miss-fitting of gaps, missed tackles. Making sure we are winning our one-on-one opportunities. It’s been a big emphasis throughout the season. We need to be better.”

Pitt’s offense has been forced into some adjustments this season, with starting quarterback Kenny Pickett missing a few games. Norvell believes that their offense has become more physical in the last few weeks. On the Panthers’ offense, he said, “They haven’t changed a whole lot, they are very multiple in what they do. They have the ability to throw the ball all around the field. This is a team that is very capable. They’re big, they’re physical.”

Brendan Gant was listed as a co-starter at safety this week, after seeing a lot of time as a second string guy early this season. Norvell mentioned that he missed a lot of prep time coming into the season due to an injury, but has been pleased with his progression in season. On Gant’s performance, Norvell said, “He’s a guy that I’m really pleased with. You’re really starting to see that growth. He is a guy who flashes all over the field, has a bright future ahead of him. He is a very emotional player, which I love.”

The Seminoles are still waiting on their two #5’s, Hamsah Nasirildeen and Tamorrion Terry, to come back into action. Norvell mentioned that both guys participated in practice today. He also mentioned that Meiko Dotson is a bit farther from returning and Renardo Green is working extremely hard to get in the mix this week.

Update, 11:40 AM

Sophomore safety Brendan Gant was the first player to speak to the media this morning. He talked about being listed as a co-starter this week and how the defense moves in a positive direction. Coming off the bye week, Gant is ready to get back on the field and show what they improved during the time off. “He made it more fun, so everyone was smiling. Everybody was still putting in work. I feel like last week really helped us a lot. We were able to get a lot of stuff cleaned up.”

After Norvell mentioned Gant had an injury, the sophomore spoke a little bit about the injury and his progress back from it. On the injury, Gant said, “I’ve been wearing a brace, I had an arm injury. I really started feeling like myself back a couple weeks ago. Feeling my body transform. Being able to feel comfortable.”

On the process of rehabbing the injury, Gant said, “Every coach tells their team ‘play your role.’ So my role changed, I just kept getting my mental reps so when I did come back I was ready to go.”

Florida State’s struggles on defense have been evident early on this season. On what the defense needs to clean up moving forward, Gant said, “I feel like we just need to clean up execution. I feel like between last week and this week we got way better on that.”

Update, 11:49 AM

We also heard from redshirt freshman safety Travis Jay, who spoke about his injury earlier this season and the progression of the defense so far this season. FSU stands at 2-4 halfway through the season. The rest of the season will be about response. On responding to losses, Jay said, “It happened for a reason. We can’t come to practice looking back at what happened last week. We just need to work on what we need to fix. Get better as a team.”

FSU had lots of time to focus on themselves and improve during the bye week last week. On the importance of the bye week, Jay said, “It was at the right moment. With that loss against Louisville, and having the bye week, it gave us a lot of time to focus on what we need to fix.”

Hamsah Nasirildeen hasn’t seen the field this season, but he’s still been a leader for a young secondary. Jay said, “He does a great job as a player who has been here and done a lot of great things for FSU. He has done a great job with us just preparing us. We are young back there in the secondary, so he’s done a great job being an older guy.”

Florida State’s defense needs a lot of improvement if the ‘Noles want to win many of their games left. That improvement will come with consistency. “It’s just being consistent, and doing the little things like coach has told us. Our assignments, being in the right place at the right time, things like that.”

Update, 12:04 PM

Last up to the microphone today was defensive coordinator Adam Fuller. Fuller spoke on the game plan heading into the Pitt game and how the defense can find improvement moving forward. On Pitt’s QB situation, Fuller said, “I think based on who the QB is, that is normally a starting point on who to defend. In their case, their offense hasn’t changed much schematically. How their offense is executed obviously there is a change there.”

FSU has struggled mightily to stop the run this season. The reasons have been all over the place. On how they stop the run, Fuller said, “More of it is just the consistency, making sure that when we’re in position we’re able to tackle the ball better. Missed tackles lead to big plays. It has been multiple different things.”

Brendan Gant was listed as a co-starter for Fuller this week, as the depth chart continues to change. On Gant, Fuller said, “With his injury, his lack of training with those three months or whatever it was, his body was underdeveloped, and he would tell you that too. He brings a level of physicality. We need to build that foundation.”

FSU’s defense used the bye week as a week to attack their issues. “It was about getting them to feel comfortable in base calls. You can’t replace the experience without the reps. On defense you can say what the call is but you can’t dictate what the look is.”

“I really appreciate the mindset and approach of the bye week. I definitely think we’ve improved and taken positive strides in a lot of the areas we needed to see improvement in. And now we’ve got to continue to apply that through the course of this week and it has to show up on Saturday afternoon.”

Florida State Seminoles head coach Mike Norvell knows that FSU isn’t living up to its potential — and he hope that message has become clear enough to his team, especially after they were brought quickly back down to earth by getting boatraced by the Louisville Cardinals following an upset win vs. then-No. 5 UNC.

“You can’t fake confidence, it’s got to come through success,” defensive coordinator Adam Fuller said last week. “And just because you have some success or some failure doesn’t guarantee the same emotion the next play or the next series, but we always tell them momentum is as big as the last play.

“That’s easy to say, it’s hard to believe —and my job as the leader of defense is to make sure that I show up every day and show them how to go about their work, regardless of how people perceive how that work to be going. Work equals success when done the right way and sometimes that happens sooner, sometimes it happens later.

“We all want it sooner, including me.”

We’ll be hearing from Norvell, Fuller and other members of the team 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.