FLORIDA STATE — Today marked the last practice for the Florida State Seminoles heading into a Saturday mock game to prepare for the Duquesne Dukes. It’s been a grind but a productive one, with visible improvement in comparison to where the team was just over three weeks ago.
And now, with camp wrapping up, FSU is ready to put that improvement on display when it kicks off the season next week.
“We got some irritable folks that are ready to play somebody else, that's a good thing to have,” head coach Mike Norvell said, adding that the team is “also making sure to focus on the details, eliminating some of the mistakes that are showing up, just the consistency overall of what’s necessary to go out and play our best for 60 minutes.”
Today overall was pretty even as far as which side “won,” with the defense ahead but only by a hair. There was a lot of situational work and one on ones which showcased some particularly interesting matchups and offered the chance for some valuable reps and higher intensity and competition.
Here are some observations from today:
Offense improves from yesterday
In one series drill aside from a bad snap and great coverage by defensive back Omarion Cooper, the offense moved the ball down the field with two big 15-yard passes to tight end Preston Daniel who absorbed a massive hit but still held on. Benson was also able to knock off a huge run ending the drive in FG range. The kick was good.
In one on ones, wide receiver Malik McClain had a nice touchdown over defensive back Greedy Vance who seemed to be getting picked on a lot in that particular drill. A few plays later, wide receiver Mycah Pittman was able to get by him with a nice juke move in the end zone.
*Defensive back Jammie Robinson drew running praise from Norvell accompanied by a resounding high-five. Going up against Ontaria Wilson in the back corner of the end zone, he was able to get in front of him in the air to punch the ball out.
There were a lot of blitzes today following along with what Norvell said in his post-practice interview about wanting to put them in uncomfortable situations. The line held its own for the most part compared to yesterday but could clean some things up.
Lineman Jazston Turnetine did a great job fending off defenders in team and pass rush drills. He and Fabian Lovett had a few good reps and Turnetine looked the best showing his ability to get off of one block and switch to the next incoming lineman quickly to hold off the sack.
Tight ends showing improvement
Tight end Wyatt Rector had a good day picking up pass rushes and had a few good catches paired with Daniel who helped move the offense along quickly. I think overall Markeston Douglas (who has quietly had a great camp) had the best day out of the group. On one play, he managed to save a tipped pass by linebacker Kalen DeLoach which looked to end the play but Douglas quickly turned around and caught the ball anyways. He also had a touchdown and good awareness blocking in the run game by creating a big wall next to a tackle also helping aid the passing game.
Standouts in the secondary
There were a few interceptions on the day and defensive back Omarion Cooper had an excellent showing. He had an interception in one on ones along with a few big pass breakups. It seemed like he wasn't allowing anything to be caught.
Defensive back Azareye’h Thomas had an impressive interception in the end zone on a pass that wasn't even thrown his way. Thomas was covering ATH Joshua Burrell crossing the back of the end zone when the pass was tipped in the air. There was a split second for him to react and he did by catching the ball and attempting to head the other way before being tackled.
Safety Akeem Dent showed off his athleticism by defending a pass thrown high to Johnny Wilson. He swept across the end zone and got just the tip of his fingers on the ball after leaping in the air for the incompletion
Tomorrow’s scrimmage will be closed to the media with no post-practice availability — our next chance to hear from Mike Norvell will be on Monday to start game week (where the Seminoles will also release its first official depth chart of the season.)