FSU’s defense dominates first padded practice of spring

The Florida State football team had its third practice of the spring Friday afternoon under partly sunny skies and very comfortable temperatures. The heat was turned up on the field as the Seminoles were in full pads in a two-hour practice that featured a lot of contact work. And as you might imagine with the donning of pads came some disagreements that had to be settled after the whistle. It was back to real football after two days in helmets and shorts.

It is not uncommon in college football for the defense to be ahead of the offense in the early parts of spring practice and that was the case Friday in Tallahassee with the defense dominating the two situational scrimmage segments (first-and-10, third-and-long) of practice.

FSU’s defense was suffocating in those two situations, with FSU recording at least three sacks, three pass breakups and two tackles for a loss during the first-and-10 scrimmage periods. They also recorded two sacks and at least one interception in the third-and-long scrimmage periods.

The offense did get the better of the defense in inside drills but like all the team work periods the defense was not allowed to take ball carriers to the ground.

Our primary focus this afternoon, with it being the team’s first day in full pads, were the offensive and defensive lines.

Jermaine Johnson was the star of the day regardless of whether it was in individual or team drills. The Georgia transfer was dominant in all of his Oklahoma drill reps (one-on-one against an offensive lineman with a ball carrier), was equally impressive in one-on-one pass rush and combo-pass-rush drills and was a force to be reckoned with all day. There is still a long way to go until the start of the 2021 season but Johnson is showing early signs of being a difference maker for the defense.

“Jermaine is all the things that we were expecting him to be in the type of person, the work ethic, the ability that he has,” FSU coach Mike Norvell said. “That’s showing up. We’ve seen in big-time Division I football games him making plays. So that playmaking ability is not something that’s shocking to me. The thing that I’ve been really pleased with is just the energy that he brings, the work ethic, the determination, uplifting his teammates. Really being a great leader for that group as well by what he’s willing to give and how he’s trying to help build up the other guys as well as going out there and playing at a high level.”

Defensive tackle Fabien Lovett, who split time with the first-team defense with Robert Cooper, was equally impressive in both individual and team drills but dominant during the Oklahoma drill and one-on-one pass rush drills. Joshua Farmer also had a very impressive day and has flashed in both practices the media has been allowed to cover this spring. He more than held his own during the Oklahoma drill and for the second day in a row was impressive in pass rush drills.

Offensively, centers Maurice Smith and Thomas Shrader had very good days. Both won the majority of their individual reps in the Oklahoma drill as well as in pass pro. Dontae Lucas, who looks to be in better shape than this past fall, also had a good day protecting the passer.

FSU took part in board drills with some standouts on each side of the ball. On offense, those who were dominant were Maurice Smith, Thomas Shrader and Lucas. On defense, Jermaine Johnson, Dennis Briggs Jr., Fabien Lovett and Joshua Farmer stood out. Offensive tackle Jalen Goss, who has been running with the second-team offensive line, also looks like he is improving.

Head coach Mike Norvell spent the first four periods once the team came out of the indoor facility with the defensive front four.

Former FSU linebacker Kirk Carruthers, who was dressed fashionably, attended Friday’s practice and walked away impressed.

“I like what I saw,” said Carruthers. “Just the intensity alone is so much better.”

Grad assistant departs FSU

Nate Andrews had returned to FSU as a graduate assistant this offseason but has recently opted to leave the program, a school spokesperson confirmed to the Osceola on Friday night. Andrews played at FSU from 2013-17.

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