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Dillingham likes effort of offense, wants more awareness

FSU offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham sees signs of growth on offense as the team enters its second season in head coach Mike Norvell’s system. However, Dillingham would like to see more improvement in his unit’s understanding of situational football after the team’s first scrimmage of the spring on Saturday.

“I thought it was solid,” said Dillingham. “You look at it big picture and, too many times, do we not have a clue on the football aspect of it. Calling a shot on a second-and-one, understanding man (coverage). Second-and-1 shot is a free play. If it’s not there, make sure it’s third-and-1, we can’t take a negative. Getting a penalty on the 1-yard line. Those are the things that in year 2 of an offense, you want to be able to eliminate. And you want to be able to play smarter. And playing smarter is that situational awareness.”

Dillingham was of course asked about quarterback McKenzie Milton’s progress in FSU’s offense after two weeks in the system.

“Great job,” said Dillingham of Milton. “We don’t treat him like year 1. He’s played football. He’s played a billion snaps of football. He’s been in two different systems. He’s a really small kid and he cares. He’s not a freshman. He’s a year-one kid in the system that’s being treated like a fifth-year senior. So that’s the mindset we have. And he’s approaching it like that. He’s doing a real good job picking it up. And he learns something every day. When you’re in a new system, the biggest thing is do not make the same mistake twice.”

The young offensive coordinator was also impressed with development of redshirt freshman quarterback Tate Rodemaker, who made one start in 2020.

“No question,” said Dillingham. “That’s a guy who showed up last year, didn’t have a spring ball and then all of a sudden was the starter. You don’t have a spring ball, fall camp comes, you’re the third-string guy and then week three last year you’re starting. Talk about a whirlwind where we put him in a situation really to fail. But it’s a good thing because trial by fire. And the growth he’s made from last year in that game to now, whether it’s in the weight room, whether it’s mentally, is drastic. He’s a guy, like we talked about last year, just not over striding. You watch him throw the ball now he doesn’t over stride as much. He takes the coaching and he applies it. … I’ve been very, very pleased with how he’s been progressing.”

He also says he his seeing improvement in the players at skill positions’ ability to win one-on-one matchups, something he thought the team struggled with a season ago.

“I thought our guys won a few one-on-ones today,” said Dillingham. “And when you get everybody back, like we did, you should be better. And I think that’s starting to show up. And I think just as much as the receivers, the communication and the timing between quarterback and receiver is getting better. We’re starting to understand each other. And that’s a big piece of it when you’re throwing one-on-ones is understanding where is somebody going to be. Our wideouts did a nice job today of separating at the line of scrimmage. And that was something we showed out last year. That’s something that through six practices we have improved on.”