FSU held its first scrimmage of its 2020 season fall camp last night under the lights in Doak Campbell Stadium and gave both offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham and defensive coordinator Adam Fuller their first look at what they have to work with this season. Both coordinators shared their thoughts on how the offense and defense fared on their impressions of the other side of the ball.
Offense vs Defense
Head coach Mike Norvell indicated that the defense was dominant in last night’s scrimmage which is not surprising. It usually takes the offense a little longer to find itself in preseason camp and this is especially true in the early stages of installing an offense that is brand new to its players. That being said both coordinators like what they saw from the and both said there is plenty of work to do moving forward in camp.
“I just want to be better,” said Dillingham. “It’s about as simple as that. We go on the field, we have goals, we want (to) own the ball, we want to communicate signals, not get penalties and we want to score. At the end of the day when we leave the scrimmage, we’re going to go and grade it. I don’t like to comment too much based off of feel. I like to see it, what I’m talking about. I want to be able to go in there, I want to be able to watch the scrimmage. I want to see where we can get better. At the end of the day if we just keep getting better, we’re going to be where we want to be.”
“Any time you take the field with a group of players, you send 11 guys out there, that is always a special moment because you are taking the field,” Fuller said. “Your goal is to get a stop, as quickly as possible. But to be out there, that was special I’ll be honest with you. Regardless of what was in the stands or what point in camp we were, it felt good just to be in that competitive atmosphere. Practice is practice, scrimmage is a scrimmage and a game is a game, [but] we try to run it all the same. But there is some competitive excellence that’s important when you get in these scrimmage formats. When your number is called, you’ve got a job to do. You’ve got to make sure you are prepared to execute that job. Whatever needs to get done. There were times tonight that happened and there were times that it wasn’t. But I appreciate the energy of the group that we are coaching, and I look forward to the rest of camp and building every day.”
“Right now as we line up on defense, we’re not in a game plan mode against our offense, from a standpoint of taking away players,” said Fuller when asked to assess the offense after the scrimmage. “We’ve got multiple wideouts that just one-on-one routes are tough matches. I don’t want to go through all their names. All of our quarterbacks have thrown the ball well. I think they’ve all done a really good job. I’ve been impressed with us up front, offensive line, I think they’re doing a nice job of just playing in unison, covering us up in certain schemes. And we play with multiple backs, too. There’s a lot of different pieces out there and we’re in multiple personnel groups. People are going to know if they watch Coach Norvell and Kenny’s offense. There is just so much multiplicity with the run game concepts, the formations, quarterback runs, quarterback throws. I mean there is just a lot of offense. Screens. If you watch the offense, then you know all the things that come with it. Then you put it with a good player in space. It is hard for me to single out specific offensive players. I think it definitely, they create angles and matchups that you don’t want on defense. We are constantly making sure that we try to leverage the ball the right way and that we can fit things.”
The young offensive coordinator was asked about the development of senior James Blackman specifically but spoke about the entire group including Jordan Travis and true freshmen Tate Rodemaker and Chubba Purday.
“I don’t want to be specific with James, I want to talk about all of those guys,” said Dillingham. “All of those guys, as a whole, I think we’re putting a lot on their plate. We’ve taken what we’ve done over a multiple-year span at Memphis, elaborating what we do offensively. We took all of those pieces and put it on them from day-one. All of those things that we built to with our quarterbacks at Memphis, we said, ‘Hey, this is on your plate. How much can you eat?’ And I think they’ve done a phenomenal job of taking that information in and then applying it on the field. Now do we still have a lot of work to do? Oh, yeah. But I do think that those guys are passionately trying to improve. Their mindset is, ‘Get better every day.’ They asked me afterwards, ‘Can I come up and watch it when you grade it?’ I’m like, ‘We have a meeting after.’ They want to watch it when I’m grading it. They just have that mindset that they’re hungry. They’re hungry to be the best.”
Offensive Line Improving
Fuller walked away impressed with what he saw from the offensive line after the scrimmage, and Dillingham was also pleased with that group.
“From where we were back spring ball day three to right now there’s unbelievable improvement,” said Dillingham. “It’s a remarkable improvement. I think those guys know what is going on, they know what we want to get accomplished but now I think it’s the reps and the detail of it. When you talk about two eyes and shades, they know it, they know what they need to get accomplished, they know how they need to get accomplished. Now they need reps doing it. That’s the one position where reps, reps, reps, reps, reps, and I think those guys, the more reps we get at it the better they are going to be. I’ve been happy with how they’ve come along. I think Coach Atkins is doing a phenomenal job with those guys. And I think those guys believe in Coach Atkins.”
RBs continue to impress
“Honestly, I think all three of them did a nice job,” said Dillingham of Jashaun Corbin, La’Damian Webb and Lawrance Toafili. “We’re in there with multiple personnel groupings, we’re putting people all over the field. And I look out there on a series and we have two freshmen backs on the field, motioning and running all sorts of crap that we do offensively. And they’re out there executing.”
“Going back to the point we just talked about, I thought today we could actually go out there and function as an offense,” said Dillingham. “Are there a lot of things we got to drastically improve on? Oh, yeah. A lot of fundamentals we got to get drastically better at? Oh, yeah. That’s what we missed though. We should be able to go execute a play. We’ve been on Zoom for four months. What we have to improve on is the detail and the fundamentals of our game.”
Fuller was also asked about his thoughts on his unit as a whole and how they have performed throughout camp, in Saturday night’s scrimmage and where they go from here.
“During practices it has been good,” said Fuller when asked to assess his unit. “Walkthroughs, good. But we’re making mistakes in certain things too. We’ve got to do a better job as coaches of combining some things, myself, I’m talking out loud. We’re trying not to make it easy on them from a standpoint of the situations that could occur during the game. Our offense does a tremendous job. Mike (Norvell) and Kenny (Dillingham) are the best in the business. They’re constantly putting us in adverse situations with what we do on offense, so it challenges our guys on defense because on defense, you install things, but then you have to install them against the things that you’re facing as well.”
Defensive line is taking shape
“Our defensive line, we’re trying to get them to come off the football and play with great pad level and technique,” said Fuller when asked specifically about the front four. “Coach (Odell) Haggins and Coach JP (John Papuchis) do a really good job. Our guys like to play the style of defense we are playing now up front, but it is taxing from an effort standpoint. The finite technique that has to be used on play 1-2-3 is still the technique that needs to be used on reps 7-8-9. I think that is the part of growth that we’re getting. We have some depth, but sometimes you can’t always rotate that depth in based on the series. So just the continuing efforts up front. I think we’ve got the right pieces. I think we’ve got the right pieces in the right places now. Now it is just trying to make sure we have the roles in place and we’re doing the right things with the right guys on the field, because there are some guys that are a little bit different than other guys. We’ve got to make sure that, yes, we have a certain way we want to play, but we also want to play to our playmakers, and we got to do that up front.”
Lamenting on the linebackers
“I think our linebacking crew, we’ve got some veterans and we’ve got some really talented young players and you saw that tonight,” said Fuller. “I think we’ve done a great job of trying to execute. They are right in the heart of the defense, they’re involved in pass fits, run fits, blitz fits, situational football, line checks … with our linebacker room, so we put (that) on their plate. Chris Marve (FSU’s linebacker coach) has done a really good job with that group. I think we were physical at the point-of-attack tonight in the box. I think on the perimeter we need to improve for sure, just our perimeter fits.”
Deep at DB
“In the secondary, we rolled a lot of guys at corner,” said Fuller. “I think we’ve got set who is playing safety positions and who is playing corner right now. Now it is just about, kind of like the d-line, getting the technique right. Marcus Woodson (FSU’s secondary coach) has done a really good job with technique for our corners, techniques for our safeties. We had a few open field missed tackles that will absolutely kill you on defense. All big plays fall on the secondary.”
Young and Impressionable
“Starting up front, if you are just talking about freshmen, (defensive end) Joshua Griffis is,” said Fuller when asked who about true freshmen who have caught his eye so far in camp. “He is mature enough and strong enough that he’s going to help us. He is going to play good football. We have some newcomers up front that aren’t freshmen (Fabien Lovett and Jarrett Jackson). (Defensive end) TJ Davis, we’re glad we got him. I think he’s got a bright future here at Florida State. There’s two linebackers that are playing good football right now in DJ Lundy and Stephen Dix. I think they will both play for us. I think they both have bright futures. Stephen again was in that recruiting class with Josh that came on that official our first weekend here. Stephen was here in the spring. DJ just got here, but he has the skill and he is the right type of player that we’re looking for here at linebacker. And then the freshmen DBs, Sidney (Williams), Demorie (Tate) and Jadarius McKnight, all just trying to work through the group that we have right now. It’s a good freshman class.”