FLORIDA STATE — Today marked the last practice left before the Seminoles’ first scrimmage on Saturday. Much like yesterday, the workload was lightened for some of the more proven guys and it was a shortened practice to prepare for tomorrow.
These reps are important, especially for the back end of the offensive line, because they’re giving a chance for multiple players to quality experience and a chance for some of the backups to step up. At the beginning of practice, it was apparent that they were giving the true freshman the bulk of the workload and a chance to compete on the offensive line. Linebacker Tatum Bethune was able to tip a pass at the line of scrimmage on one play and recovered a fumble off a bad snap a few plays later.
Despite that, quarterback Jordan Travis was able to connect with wide receiver Johnny Wilson twice to keep the offense alive. One pass for about seven or eight yards and another longer jump ball for about 10. Going for it on 4th, the line held up respectfully but the play ended in a lob to the end zone into a group of receivers and defenders for an incomplete pass.
Here are some takeaways from day eight of fall camp.
Johnny Wilson progressing with another good practice
After flashing some in the spring it looks like Johnny Wilson is progressing to take that next step (if he hasn’t already, the rest of camp will tell) in his game both catching and blocking.
Paired with the two catches he had at the start of practice, Wilson had a very productive day and probably would’ve caught every ball thrown his way if it weren't for defensive back Sidney Williams getting under him on one play in team drills.
Wilson is a big target at 6’7 and 235 pounds so it's important for him to become a reliable hands-on guy in the rotation and today he was about as reliable as you can be. His blocking in the run game and catching consistently will be something to look forward to throughout camp and the season.
Norvell had this to say about Wilson in his post-practice interview and described his progression in two words:
“He’s been consistent in his work and he’s continuing to get better and we’re continuing to get to know him better and so those are all things that have shown up and (we are) excited about the element that he’s brought to this offense.”
Hustling is non-negotiable
We’ve been talking about the offensive line a lot because it's a very important piece to the puzzle and when they’re perceived as not giving a hundred percent all the time — it gets corrected. Transitioning from team drills to position drills (I’m assuming from all the pretty language) that the line didn’t get to where they needed to be fast enough for offensive coordinator Alex Atkins. They spent the majority of the period jogging in place and doing up-down workouts while he let them know about his expectations. Head coach Mike Norvell also offered touch and go “words of encouragement” as he moved from drill to drill.
Whatever the case, this seemed to have sunk in after the period was over because there was no jogging after that. Offensive lineman Rod Orr was high-step running to the next drill in front of everyone.
One thing that can be repeated was Atkins asking one of his linemen if he was getting team reps and the response was “No.” Atkins then asked him, “Why weren’t you first to the drill then?” and that stood out to me because of the mindset he is trying to instill.
Despite a slow start, the offense responds
As the day went on and after the first three periods the offense showed a response in the passing game and the run game turning it into a back and forth affair with the defense. Quarterback Tate Rodemaker had a few nice long balls in series drills to both receivers Kentron Poitier and Keyshawn Helton. The one to Poitier sunk right into his hands with Azareye’h Thomas and Shyheim brown going up in the air with him on either side. Poitier is another one of those big receivers you need to take another step forward but his progress is noticeable.
Running backs Trey Benson and Rodney Hill continued to hit holes for big gains with their ability to make it downfield in a hurry and both Lawrence Toafili and Treshaun Ward caught some nice passes. They all showed that they are running backs first and are not afraid to run through a pile.
Tomorrow marks the Seminoles' first scrimmage of the season and they will be under the lights inside Doak Campbell. The scrimmage is closed to the media however coaches and players will be giving interviews after.