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How does McKenzie Milton expand FSU’s playbook?

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Florida State head coach Mike Norvell knows that when you take a job of FSU’s caliber the clock starts ticking day one — you need to show improvement and you need to do it fast.

Due to some recent rule changes, the NCAA is quickly becoming a free agent league and Norvell knows that the fastest way to improve is to take in transfer players at key positions. No positions are more important than the quarterback, defensive end, and offensive tackle and while the third has so far evaded the Seminoles in the portal in 2021, the rest have been addressed.

The first position targeted was quarterback, and he reeled in a good one in former UCF quarterback, McKenzie Milton. Milton was extremely successful in his time in Orlando. Not only was he one of the most efficient quarterbacks in college football but he led his team to a national championship.

But what should make FSU fans excited more than anything is how much he will be able to expand the Seminoles playcalling. Let's take a look at what he did well at UCF and see how it can transfer to Norvell’s offense.

You can watch the full breakdown embedded below:

And here’s an edited transcript:

When you first watch Milton’s film the first thing that stands out is his ability to run and UCF liked to run him a lot.

For those unaware Milton had a gruesome leg injury a couple of years back that might impact his pure running speed but what I think should be unaffected is his ability to extend plays in the pocket. His pure passing ability really shouldn’t be impacted much by the injury. He is pretty adept at making easy completions, something FSU couldn’t always rely on last year.

At Memphis, Norvell showed that the RPO game, specifically the RPO slant or glance depending on the coach, was a staple of his offense; However, Norvell didn’t appear comfortable enough to call this frequently with Jordan Travis behind center. Look for this to really open up if Milton gets the nod to start in the fall. His touch and accuracy on these short passes really take the pressure off the line.

But what really will help FSU’s offense is his ability to throw the ball downfield.

One way to categorize offenses is by their approach to beating man coverage. If the defense is able to play reliable man coverage it leaves extra men in the box to help with run fits. This means that teams have to be prepared to try to beat man by any means necessary.

A method that’s becoming increasingly common in college football is the mesh concept. It’s an old air raid play that has crossing receivers set picks across the middle of the field in order to spring a receiver open.

However, this isn’t how Norvell, or Scott Frost who was UCF’s head coach when Milton was playing, likes to attack man. They are much more vertical in their approach. If you are going to play man, they’re going to trust their men to beat you one on one down the field. And no route is better at exploiting man coverage vertically than the fade concept.

When you run a lot of fades you need a response when teams play you over the top. The common answer is the back-shoulder fade. Milton is adept at this throw too.

No one player makes a football team. While I believe that Milton is a top-notch college quarterback, injury questions still linger in the back of many’s minds. It’s a fair sense of caution, but I believe that he still has the tools to get it done. His arm strength might be lacking a bit but he is elite at anticipating opening and he has the accuracy to deliver to the ball consistently and reliably to his target. His straight-line speed might be diminished but his true skill always lied in extending plays.

I don’t know what impact he makes on this team next year but it never hurts to bring in a kid who is at the level, both athletically and personally, as McKenzie Milton.