FLORIDA STATE — With day four of practice in the books, the Seminoles look ahead to their last day in shells on Monday and their first day in full pads on Tuesday. Overall, head coach Mike Norvell has been pleased with how his team has performed this past week and he and the players are amping up to go full throttle.
Today’s practice was a teeter-totter of sorts with which side of the ball was the most effective, highlighting the competition we’ve seen from the team over the past practices. Quarterback Jordan Travis continues to work on and showcase an elevated game while AJ Duffy probably had one of his best practice days passing.
That, and other takeaways from today’s practice:
Freshman defensive back Azareye’h Thomas continues to impress
It hasn't taken long for the newcomer to turn heads and has been doing so since spring. The Ball Hawk Award today without question goes to Thomas who flashed numerous times in 7 on 7, 1 vs 1, and 12 on 12 drills. He’s listed at 6’2 and 188 pounds and has a very similar frame to former Seminole and LA Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey although Thomas might be just a little more humble.
He came away with multiple interceptions (Duffy) and just showed remarkable coverage throughout the day. There was one play where I think he forgot that they were just in uppers because he blew up running back Treshaun Ward in a drill that didn't necessarily require that much commitment. Ward fumbled and it was a “scoop and score” by DB Travis Jay. Based on the speed everybody was flying around, I’m sure they all are ready to go full force next week.
FSU quarterbacks are looking better and better
Duffy, to this date, hasn't really been the best at throwing the ball consistently, tending (as a young quarterback will) to tuck and run in a lot of situations, but today it was good to see him sling it around a bit more and throwing with some accuracy. The freshman mistakes are gonna come (see above) but what’s promising is that when he gets done taking freshman lumps and adjusting to the game, with such a long stride and ability to eat up grass, he’ll turn into a major asset for the Seminoles. He had a few touchdowns on the day, one throw most notably to tight end Brian Courtney after being flushed out of the pocket.
Duffy was also able to time a near-perfect throw to wide receiver Joshua Burrell while he was cutting outside, but Burrell spent just a hair too long locked up with the DB and didn't get his hands up in time. Despite the incompletion, it didn’t go unrecognized — Norvell yelled across the practice facility to tell Duffy how nice of a pass it was.
Another play that stood out to me was a throw by Jordan Travis to Ward. It wasn’t flashy, it wasn’t a bomb 4th and 14 to send the Canes home in their tacky gold bus with spinners on it, but it was a precision throw to Ward who was tightly covered a few yards down the field. It’s a throw that you want to see your QB1 execute with ease and he did just that. Elevating his ability to throw players open will be a huge asset to the team.
The Seminoles' run defense stands tall
There has been a lot of talk about the lines lately and, well, that stood out today. The defense as a whole did really well but the two sides were back and forth through the air and really only let a few big runs get away from them. Nothing was going up the middle and Thomas (again) was able to secure a few potential touchdowns from escaping charging in from the other side of the field. One did get away when running back Trey Benson was able to bounce outside of the pile and find his way upfield with just safety Shyheim Brown standing in the way.
Linebacker Tatum Bethune, edge Jared Verse, and Cooper were all essential in stuffing the run and linebacker Kalen Deloach got a few TFLs but got burned by Travis on one attempt. Travis let him know it jokingly pointing at him on the ground as he ran for the first down.
Not run defense, but worth mentioning: Defensive tackle Robert Cooper had a nice tipped pass almost intercepted by tackle Jarret Jackson