Defense often dominates, but Benson leads ground game

Florida State’s defense dominated the majority of Saturday’s spring game at Doak Campbell Stadium, forcing 10 punts on 15 drives. That was a storyline in the first 13 practices of the spring and it was on display yet again in front of a crowd of about 30,000.

But the ground attack was often featured, led by transfer tailback Trey Benson (seven carries for 77 yards). Benson has shown that burst throughout the spring and he broke off runs of 22, 18 and 17 yards.

“I’m excited for Trey,” FSU coach Mike Norvell said. “He’s still growing. Coming off the injury, building that confidence and it’s been a process for him even through spring ball. You got a preview of the explosiveness that he has.”

FSU’s defensive front applied pressure throughout and registered five sacks, although quarterbacks were not taken to the ground (let alone tackled). Jared Verse had a pair of sacks, while Malcolm Ray, Shyheim Brown and Quashon Fuller also had sacks. Verse also blocked a 50-yard field-goal attempt by Ryan Fitzgerald.

The Seminoles’ defense forced 10 punts, including seven three-and-outs. Points were at a premium, although the offense scored three touchdowns and made a field goal on 15 drives. 

Lawrance Toafili had a 1-yard touchdown run up the middle, a score that was set up by Jordan Travis’ 25-yard run to the sideline. Mycah Pittman also had a 4-yard run on an end around. Late in the game, with time expired, DJ Williams had a 10-yard touchdown run.

The offensive coaches clearly wanted to show off the ground attack (58 rush plays and 33 pass plays on the afternoon). DJ Williams had five carries for 40 yards, including a 20-yard run. Toafili had nine carries for 43 yards, including a 20-yard run. CJ Campbell had four carries for 41 yards, including a 28-yarder.

The afternoon began with two-point conversions, and FSU’s offense struggled. Sam McCall intercepted a pass from Tate Rodemaker, Kevin Knowles picked off a pass from Jordan Travis and Amari Gainer intercepted AJ Duffy.

Pittman caught four passes for 25 yards. “Mycah, he’s like a big ball of muscle,” Travis said. “He’s strong as heck. He wants contact every single day.”

Wyatt Rector had an 18-yard reception over the middle, and Kentron Poitier 13-yard catch down sideline from Tate Rodemaker.

Jordan Travis completed 7 of 13 passes for 71 yards, along with eight rushes for 17 yards. Rodemaker completed 3 of 9 passes for 28 yards. AJ Duffy was just 1 for 5 with a 4-yard pass to Pittman.

The game also continued with a second half that was coached by FSU stars Danny Kanell, EJ Manuel, Peter Boulware and Bryant McFadden. In that part of the scrimmage, Rodemaker connected with Poitier on an 11-yard touchdown and walk-on Gino English had a 10-yard TD run.

Spring game stats

FSU’s spring game stats can be viewed in PDF format here

Up next

FSU will hold a 15th and final practice on Tuesday afternoon.