Florida State football hit the practice field for the third time of the week this morning. After practice, Mike Norvell was pleased with his team’s effort and development, saying, “I really like the competitiveness that we’re showing. Just continuing to refine the fundamentals and specifics, that’s what we’re trying to accomplish.” Here’s some takeaways from the Seminoles’ Wednesday practice:
Mike Norvell opened his presser after practice by praising his young quarterbacks for taking advantage of an increase in reps. After Mckenzie Milton and Jordan Travis got the majority of reps in the scrimmage, Chubba Purdy and Tate Rodemaker got the majority today to showcase their development. Both QB’s showed improvements in their decision making and limited their mistakes from the prior day. After a day filled with interceptions, Purdy and Rodemaker didn’t throw a single INT in 11-on-11’s on Wednesday. Early in practice, both scored touchdowns with their legs in goal line situations. After a slow start, Purdy had a stretch of five completions in six plays during 7-on-7’s. All five of those passes went for first downs. Rodemaker showed good chemistry with a few young receivers and had success in 7-on-7’s, completing all of his passes during the period. In 11-on-11’s, he had less success but flashed his arm talent on two individual throws. One down the middle of the field to tight end Jackson West and another down the sideline to WR Jordan Young.
For the second straight day, Lawrance Toafili showed his versatility with a big catch down the field. Yesterday, he held on for a touchdown while getting popped by a safety. Today, he reeled in a pass down the middle of the field for 20+ yards. Treshaun Ward has been productive fall thanks to his quick feet and elusiveness. Today, he showed his competitiveness as he pushed forward on a second effort for a conversion on fourth and short. Corey Wren also used his speed to beat a linebacker down the field on a first down catch. It isn’t always the same faces, but the running back group flashes for big plays every practice.
A few young wide receivers had impressive days of practice. Kentron Poitier started his day with three wins in one-on-ones, including a toe-tap TD in the end-zone. He also hauled in two receptions during 7-on-7’s, two of them for first downs. The first came on a nice grab on a ball overthrown a touch. The second was a contested catch down the sideline. Darion Williamson was a consistent performer on Wednesday. Williamson connected with Rodemaker three straight times, the first two coming on short out routes. The last was a catch over the middle of the field for a 20-yard gain. In 11-on-11, he broke a couple tackles to take a screen for a third down conversion. Ja’Khi Douglas was the highlight of the goal-line period, which the offense dominated as they scored six times in seven tries. Douglas scored two of those TD’s, twice diving for the pylon on second effort. He also had a contested catch in 1-on-1’s.
The tight ends had a solid Wednesday. Preston Daniel started the good day with an impressive catch in one-on-one’s, twisting his body and reeling in a touchdown while falling down. The catch was greeted with heavy praise from the coaching staff. Wyatt Rector had a big gain on a catch down the seam of the defense. Freshman Jackson West had the best day of the group. West had three catches, all for first downs. One of the three came on a tight end screen which he turned into a big gain. He also showed off some elusive moves in one-on-one tackling drills.
The offensive line as a whole was improved from Tuesday. By the goal-line, they did a good job of holding strong and opening lanes for the QB’s. The struggles today came with some free rushers off the edge on blitzes. In four-man rushes, the O-Line gave the quarterbacks time to throw for the majority of Wednesday’s 11-on-11 periods.
Dennis Briggs was the highlight of the defensive front on Wednesday. Briggs flashed consistently in the run game. On a counter run, Briggs was there for a tackle for loss. In the next period, he stuffed a run up the middle for no gain. His best play of the day came on a fourth and short. Briggs broke through the interior of the offensive line to stuff another run up the middle and get the defense off the field. The defensive tackle has been a consistent performer this fall.
DJ Lundy was all over the field today. Lundy showed off range as he sprinted to each sideline multiple times, once coming up for a big tackle on a toss play and once shutting down a screen pass. Lundy also had the only interception during team drills as he swiped a short pass in a 7-on-7 period. Amari Gainer flashed a couple times off the edge of the line to put pressure on the QB. Gainer also held strong on a coverage as he broke up a pass on a wheel route to a RB down the sideline. The linebackers’ glaring weakness continues to be their coverage. Most of the offense’s success today was on throws over the middle of the field.
The defensive back room has been consistent this spring and have shown a high level of competitiveness. In my looks, Travis Jay has been the most consistent. Jay had a couple of pass breakups on Wednesday, and even when he allows a completion, it comes in tight coverage. The defensive back also isn’t afraid to make a big tackle in the run game. Jarvis Brownlee’s physical play gave FSU wide receivers fits today. In four tries, he allowed just one completion during one-on-ones. Jammie Robinson had two pass breakups, one in one-on-ones and another in 11-on-11. Brendan Gant had an interception on the first rep of one-on-ones. Jarques McClellion broke through a block for a big tackle to shut down a screen.
Both of FSU’s kickers in the kicking competition had a good day. Parker Grothaus made the only field goal in the early portion of 11-on-11’s. Ryan Fitzgerald made a pair of kicks late in practice with authority, driving them over the nets and into the Moore Center parking lot. Special teams coordinator John Papuchis mentioned on Saturday evening that the competition will likely play out till the beginning of the season. Norvell praised Alex Mastromanno after practice, saying the distance and hang time of his punts could be a ‘weapon’ for the ‘Noles this season.