The Florida State Seminoles took the field at Doak Campbell Stadium for the first time since November of 2021. Their annual Garnet and Gold spring game brought an opportunity for fans to finally preview their incoming freshmen, transfers, and overall team improvement. After an incredible start from the defense, the offense put their foot on the gas behind some incredible plays from their running back room. The Noles defensive backs and running backs controlled the ball game, which FSU fans are surely used to.
What were your biggest takeaways from the offense?
Max Escarpio: The offense started the game with clear miscommunication that led to a couple early turnovers but, the running back room led them down the field yet again. Despite the struggles to start the game, Jordan Travis definitely seemed more comfortable while slowing his decision making down and Tate Rodemaker’s leadership on and off the field impressed me. Freshman QB AJ Duffy is having trouble staying in the pocket to find the open man but that seems like something that’ll come with time and trust. To reiterate, there should be no worry with this deep running back room but the QB’s need to get on the same page as these receivers if the Seminoles want to have a successful offense.
Perry Kostidakis: The running back room is in great shape. Offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Alex Atkins has consistently praised that position group this spring, even going so far as to quote “The Wire” and say that they had a “good problem” in that each of the backs on roster could contribute in a meaningful way. Trey Benson surely assuaged any possible concerns the greater fanbase had of his athletic ability after injuries, showcasing his explosiveness on multiple plays (without a brace on, to further ease those worries), Lawrance Toafili looked like his impressive freshman year form, DJ Williams threw in a nice run and Treshaun Ward snagged a nice pass in from Jordan Travis in a third-and-eight situation.
Tommy: My biggest takeaway was that the running back room is solid going against a pretty stout front seven. Multiple backs had 20+ yard runs behind an offensive line that has been slightly dinged up these past few practices. The explosive plays were there throughout the day but they need to finish with 7 instead of three.
What were your biggest takeaways from the defense?
Max Escarpio: Florida State’s defensive backs, along with a handful of their linebackers were the highlight of the defense, getting involved early with pass breakups and interceptions to kickoff the game. Also, transfer Jared Verse definitely left his mark in his first “ game ” in Garnet and Gold with one QB hit, two sacks and two tackles for loss.
Perry Kostidakis: They’re ahead of the offense — which is a good thing. The defense is almost unintentionally catered to in the spring. Whistles quick to come in order to prevent injuries to players on either side of the ball, and having repped them multiple times, they know what plays are coming.
Tommy: Max took the words out of my mouth but I would like to say that the linebackers have definitely improved in coverage and chasing down plays before they get out of hand. D.J. Lundy can hit hard and is starting to move his weight with a little more speed along with Steven Dix JR. To say the middle of the field won't be a liability is a little too early but I do like the improvement.
Who was the biggest surprise player of the game?
Max Escarpio: I’ve been to every spring practice in 2022 and I’ve seen spurts of what Trey Benson can do with the mix of his size and quickness but I haven’t seen him find gaps and break through tackles quite like today. I’m excited for this running back room, every player in that position seems to bring a different skill and they’ve treated each other like family the whole offseason.
Perry Kostidakis: Not a surprise exactly, but seeing how aggressive wide receiver Mycah Pittman continues to be despite his stature is encouraging after seeing less-than-desirable effort in physicality in Tallahassee over the last few years. Pittman has quickly established himself as a key component of the team, from offense to special teams, and seeing his continued growth as we get into fall is going to be fun to see.
What are your biggest concerns after watching the spring game?
Max Escarpio: Before seeing the development from the linebacker group, I was concerned with what that room would bring to the field but there wasn’t much to complain about and they’ve shown their going to be a positive group for the Noles in 2022. Despite the skillful incomers and success I’ve seen from the wide receiver room, I was upset with the separation they had today along with multiple drops.
Perry Kostidakis: What happens if offensive linemen start to go down? Atkins has absolutely elevated the talent in the room and has turned a much-maligned unit into one that actually has the capability of making a difference in a football game. That said, once you start rotating out the top of the chart, things get a little iffy. We haven’t gotten a full view on how they can handle things — again, spring is a bit tilted towards the defense — but FSU is going to need some youngins to step up in 2022.
What was your main takeaway?
Max Escarpio: The Seminoles defense will clearly be the main event. The defensive line has some clear studs and the defensive backs are deep. Like I said previously, there’s still concerns with the WR room and the quarterbacks should focus on furthering their connection with them this offseason. Also, Derrick McLendon and Verse continue to strive on the defensive ends but, the Noles have to make sure their backups are just as prepared for a long season since there will be more shifting in that group with Jermaine Johnson’s absence.
Perry Kostidakis: Florida State is doing the little things to try and get better — which is why it’s nice that Norvell has placed an emphasis on maintaining an actual practice schedule, opting to have a televised practice rather than an actual team vs. team exhibition game. There are still flaws to fix — consistency in the passing game at top of mind — but the across-the-board baseline of the team has been raised. Now, the question is: can that translate into an uptick in wins?