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Florida State football: Practice notes, observations before first scrimmage

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The intensity heats up for a spot on the depth chart.

TALLAHASSEE — Florida State Football’s first spring scrimmage is on the horizon and Saturday will take the Noles inside Doak Campbell Stadium in cleats for the first time this season. Fierce competition was to be expected on Thursday as players fight for their position on the depth chart.

Defensive end Jared Verse had this to say about the upcoming weekend:

“I’m very excited because this is how we set the depth chart. Because they look at who has been grinding. You know we went on spring break. Who is actually putting in that work during spring break? Who was kinda laying off and relaxing? This is kind of where we test everything and put it on the line and see who actually wants this.”

Coming out of six practices with a week off in-between, the team was light years better than they were day one after spring break. The defense started off strong pushing Jordan Travis and company back holding their own in the run game. Quarterback AJ Duffy managed to tuck and run for a couple of first downs and is athletic enough to get to the marker.

Switching to the goal line was where the offense really started to shine and aside from a dropped pick by defensive back Greedy Vance, the offense seemed like it couldn't be stopped while putting an emphasis on defensive back Jarrion Jones to make plays. There were a few times when the coverage in the secondary clamped down causing the quarterback to run, but even then it didn't matter. Jordan Travis, at one point, was streaming to the right of the line heading straight for the end zone. Defensive back Kevin Knowles couldn't stop after a juke move from Travis sent him to the turf and Travis in for the score.

A few of the players that stood out from Thursday:

Wide receiver Johnny Wilson - Wilson stood out in a couple of different ways. Wilson has been blocking until the very end of every play and holding his own helping other receivers and running backs get out in space. He also has very capable hands and on one play in particular, as if all was lost with the defense closing on the quarterback, he was able to break free waving for the ball. He made the contested catch 20-yards down the field to save the drive.

Quarterback Tate Rodemaker - Now this is not to take away from Travis, or Duffy, or English, but, Tate seems to finally be taking the steps forward needed to fulfill his potential. He still needs some more touch but his development is remarkable and more time in the system should do him wonders.

Defensive end Jared Verse - Verse has remarkable speed and does not look to be that fast at first glance. Running stride for stride with Travis on a scramble he was able to keep up enough to shout taunts before forcing him out of bounds. The first down was still made but it was impressive to see an edge rusher chase down a very dynamic quarterback.

Wide receivers Micah Pittman and Malik McClain - Both receivers made big plays in big moments in the two-minute and 11 on 11 drills. Pittman ended practice with a toe-tapping touchdown falling out of bounds with defensive back Jarrion Jones in coverage. McClain seems to have taken that next step forward in blocking and receiving. He is a fluid route runner.

The defense held their own for the first half of practice tipping passes at the line of scrimmage, interceptions by Sam McCall and Akeem Dent, and being able to hold the run game in check. However, I think the offense won the day through the air making big plays and capitalizing on mistakes.