Update, 11:00 AM
Mike Norvell spoke to the media for the first time in a week this morning. Norvell opened up with excitement about the opportunity to continue their season with two more games and get more practice in, despite having limited numbers. He said, “It’s been good to get back out on the practice field the past couple of days. We kind of approached this as a bye week. Knowing what the schedule is was really exciting for our guys.”
“I am really pleased with our guys the way they come back out and work and continue to grow. To keep the right mindset, the right approach, go out there and get better.”
The Seminoles have had a flurry of personnel changes early this week. First was Asante Samuel Jr., who opted out and declared for the NFL Draft. On Samuel Jr., Norvell said, “Grateful for the opportunity to coach him. Phenomenal young man, did a tremendous job for us this year. The timing is something that I understand. Grateful for the Seminole that he has been.”
Running back La’Damian Webb also opted out earlier this week, but it was unclear of his intentions beyond this season. Norvell cleared up that situation today. He said, “La’Damian has all the intention to return and be here in January.”
Defensive back/line backer Jaiden Lars-Woodbey announced his opt out this morning and his intentions to explore other options as a grad-transfer in the portal. On Lars-Woodbey, Norvell said, “He has been a remarkable Seminole. All the work that he has had responding to an injury... Look at the job he’s done academically, socially to impact the community, obviously on the football field.”
Florida State could’ve easily called it a season after last week. The ‘Noles are extremely limited, between Covid-19 protocols and opt outs, but will carry on with the season. On why they made that decision, Norvell said, “The opportunity to compete. We are a young football team. We need every rep we can get… We want to play. This is one of the most challenging things I have ever experienced as a head coach.”
Update, 11:15 AM
Quarterback Jordan Travis was second to the podium this morning as he spoke on the UVA cancellation and the opportunity to finish the season. Travis mentioned that FSU felt prepared to play UVA, despite the limited numbers. On the cancellation, he said, “It sucks for sure, waking up and preparing a whole week for a team, and you’re not able to play. It’s unfortunate.”
Florida State now has two more opportunities to play football and get better on the season. On the chances to keep playing games, Travis said, “It’s an opportunity to play football. We’ve got to go out and win these next two games.”
This season has been the most challenging of any of these players’ careers, and likely all the coaches as well. The pandemic has changed lives all over the country. On the challenges of this season throughout the pandemic, Travis said, “It’s tough but it’s all a learning lesson. Hopefully we wont ever have to go through this again.”
Both Travis and Norvell mentioned that today’s practice was special and the energy was unique. On the energy and what has changed within the program, Travis said, “t’s just guys loving football. We are out here, we might as well take advantage of it. I try to tell everyone just focus on getting better.”
Update, 11:25 AM
Linebacker Amari Gainer was last to the podium today as he spoke about today’s practice and the past few days within the program. Gainer harped on what Norvell and Travis did, the increased energy of today’s practice. On the energy, Gainer said, “I just love playing football. Even if we had some bad news and we aren’t playing, it’s a blessing to be out there practicing with my teammates.”
Florida State is down a lot of players at practice, but the Seminoles aren’t looking at it as a negative thing. Instead, they’re looking at it as an opportunity for someone else to step up. On the roster limitations, Gainer said, “One man down brings on another opportunity for someone else.” He also mentioned, with a big smile on his face, he wouldn’t mind playing running back again like in high school.
2020 continues to be the year that won’t stop giving, no matter how much you ask, and forced FSU to reschedule its final three games of the year — ending up with two, both different locations than originally intended: Dec. 12 at home vs. Duke, Dec. 19 vs. Wake Forest.
Head coach Mike Norvell made a comment during Monday’s call-in show that his team was “preparing for a faceless opponent,” a coach quote cliche that actually literally applied at that moment, when the question of who and when and where and if Florida State was going to play to conclude the 2020 regular season. Now, he’s got what’s amounted to four weeks to prep for the Duke Blue Devils, a sort of in-season mini-camp that hopefully has proved beneficial for a team that’s feeling the weight of a season that nobody is exactly having fun during (well, you know, except Clemson and Alabama.)
“It’s a disappointing feeling but you also have to take it with a grain of salt, because it is 2020,” tight end Camren McDonald said on Monday. “That’s just what 2020 has come with. We are very blessed to have played 8 games so far.”
“I know what the spear on our helmet represents, and it will stand the test of time, because of the foundation that was laid during the Bobby Bowden era.”
“This coaching staff is exactly what we need. I feel like we have what it takes to right the ship here.”
We’re set to hear from Norvell as well as other members of the team today as part of scheduled media availability. 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.