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Florida State football notebook: September 29

Hearing from the Seminoles offense

Don Juan Moore

Update, 12:00 PM

Mike Norvell spoke to the media today after his first practice back out on the field in Tallahassee. With Norvell back at practice, the ‘Noles started Jacksonville State preparations today. With prep starting, Norvell said the team is still heavily focused on fundamentals and discipline. Norvell said, “There’s a definite push to improve. Guys are competing. Continue to focus to get better every day.”

Norvell has expressed how he wasn’t happy with the team’s response on the sideline during the Miami game. He said that mental response is still a daily work in progress. He said, “How you respond in adverse situations, that’s the true definition of who you are. It’s whenever things get challenging, that’s when you have a chance to define who you are. That’s an area where we have to grow up. It’s a daily process.”

Between the second half of the Miami game and the depth chart released yesterday, it seems the ‘youth movement’ is on in Tallahassee. There are benefits and challenges to playing freshmen early in their career Norvell mentioned. “You’ve got to look at the immediate value and return if they/re able to help you win games. There’s challenges. You look at James and his experience. There were some growing pains that some probably helped him but others probably hurt him.”

FSU’s offense has struggled in the red-zone early on this season. Production in the red-zone comes down to execution in short spaces the head coach said. “Everybody has to be on point with the precise execution on what we need to do.”

Update, 12:05 PM

Tate Rodemaker spoke to the media this morning after having his first in-game experience last Saturday. Rodemaker spoke on that moment of getting on the field and how he handled it. He said, “A little nervous, but once I got on the field, I just think of it as another team practice, just another color jersey on the other side of the field.”

Rodemaker did throw a pick on his first drive, but didn’t lose his focus. After his interception, he was just ready for the next drive. Rodemaker said, “I don’t really think too much about, I got back up there next drive, and did what I did.” Rodemaker also mentioned that James Blackman helped him on the sidelines after the INT.

The freshmen QB got in with multiple of his fellow freshmen. He called their reps “very valuable.” On receiving play for the first time and doing it with his classmates, he said, “We’re just trying to talk and help, I was talking to some of the running backs like LT. We’re just all trying to get better.”

Update, 12:10 PM

We heard from offensive tackle Devontay Love-Taylor today. Love-Taylor spoke on the offensive line’s performance through the first two games and where they go from here. On his message to the offensive line after the game, he said, “We need to get better, we need to communicate better. I told the young guys when they went in, ‘you guys need to push us to get better.’”

DLT praised the play of the young offensive players late in the game. He mentioned that the young offensive lineman performed well and that he was impressed by Rodemaker. On Rodemaker’s performance, he said, “Tate did a really great job, he knew where the mike [linebacker] was, and he knew all the plays.”

On Norvell’s message after the game, Love-Taylor said, “He is consistent with every message he says. He said ‘we beat ourselves.’ We have to go out and perform.”

Update, 12:15 PM

We heard from one of those young offensive lineman that DLT praised as Robert Scott spoke to the media for the first time today. Scott received his first college action in the fourth quarter on Saturday. On those first game reps, he said, “It was kind of nerve-wracking, I was ready but when you’re really on the field ‘it’s like wow’, you know what I’m saying?”

Scott spoke some on his relationship with Devontay Love-Taylor and how he’s helped him develop. He mentioned that they watch some of his old film together. On Love-Taylor, he said, “He’s a good dude, he helps me every day.”

Scott has been multiple times by coaches since the beginning of the fall. He said he’s been working really hard because of the belief the coaches have in him. On OL coach Alex Atkins, he said, “He believed in me, that’s another reason why I’ve worked this hard, because he believes in me.”

The freshman OT only saw limited reps on Saturday, but he’s ready for the possibility of more playing time. “I’m just playing my role, if they put me in then I am going to work, if not, then I’m taking mental reps, because you never know when you’re going in there.”

Update, 12:20 PM

The youth movement was present in today’s press conference, as we also heard from freshman running back Lawrance Toafili. Toafili has been one of the most productive and present freshmen since the opening game. On getting that extra playing time, he said, “I’m just trying to go as hard as I can and make the best of my opportunities.”

With some limited playing time and a crowded backfield, Toafili knows he has to make the most of his opportunities. He said, “Every opportunity I get, I just try to take advantage as much as I can.”

Toafili has impressed not only with his touches, but also in pass protection. On his pass pro, he said, “Really just getting down to technique and knowing your leverage and things like that.”

The freshman running back was out on the field making plays with many fellow freshmen at the end of the game. On his freshmen class’ chemistry, Toafili said, “I feel like we just connected really well and we gelled, we have good team chemistry.” He also mentioned that he’s excited for the future of Rodemaker. “I believe Tate has a lot of potential. He’s a good player.”

“We knew coming in that this was going to be a process to improve. There’s nobody within the program that is pleased with the result on the field. But what we can control is how we respond to it.”

Florida State Seminoles football head coach Mike Norvell is back at practice today after spending the last two weeks in quarantine following a positive coronavirus test, and his message since Saturday’s blowout loss to the Miami-Florida Hurricanes has been consistent: things needs to change, and they need to change fast.

At least on the surface, that’s appeared to start to happen. The depth chart released yesterday ahead of Florida State’s game against Jacksonville State had plenty of elevations up from players who had showed flashes during last week’s loss, including Lawrance Toafili.

From yesterday’s depth chart observations:

James Blackman remains the starting quarterback, however the trio of Jordan Travis, Tate Rodemaker, and Chubba Purdy are all listed as the second choice with an OR. This marks the first appearance for the previously injured Purdy.

Jashaun Corbin remains the starter at running back, but a new position “TB” - presumably tailback - was added, giving La’Damian Webb and Lawrance Toafili shared duties as the tailback starter.

Tamorrion Terry was dropped from the top slot in the receiver position, now listed below Ontaria Wilson as a co-starter with an OR tag. Also of note in the receiver group is Warren Thompson being dropped from top billing with Keyshawn Helton listed above him - also with an OR tag. There are only two receiver positions listed.

We’ll be hearing from Norvell and other members of the offense 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.