Florida State coach Mike Norvell as well as the coordinators discuss the 26-23 win over Boston College and preview Saturday’s game at Florida (noon on ESPN).
Norvell is pleased with the heart and character of the team in the back half of the season.
He says FSU executed at a high level in the first half, especially in the red zone. Had a good mix of explosive plays. Of course likes no turnovers.
Norvell: “Our defensive front did an extraordinary job.”
He’s very happy with Alex Mastromanno, who has been very consistent punting in 2021. “I thought our punt team was phenomenal … being able to flip the field. I like that part of what we’ve been able to do.”
On FSU-Florida: “We got back home and it has been all focus on this week. This rivalry is one of the great rivalries in all of college football.” You see the identity and the culture. He wants to finish the season the way they want to be remembered.
Norvell saw a great sense of urgency on Sunday in meetings.
After watching UF-Missouri film, Norvell notes there is a difference in what FSU coaches are seeing with a new defensive coordinator. Also seems to deflect that as a major talking point as the Seminoles prepare for the Gators.
Norvell praises the growth and development of the defense. He wanted to have a player break the rock on Saturday postgame in the locker room but was encouraged by a few players who wanted Adam Fuller to break the rock. It speaks a lot to their belief in Fuller.
Norvell very happy with play of Johnson, Thomas and defensive line. Felt there were a few more opportunities to get sacks. Mentions some good play around them, doesn’t mention specifics but Fabien Lovett was impactful.
Norvell is being diplomatic on the offensive line alignment call on Darius Washington. Says it’s a judgement call but does say he let himself be heard, so it sounds like he discussed with game officials and perhaps asked for clarity from ACC office on Sunday.
FSU and Florida didn’t play in 2020 due to scheduling challenges of COVID. Norvell says the Seminoles have “put themselves in a position to be remembered” and it’s clear he doesn’t want to say the words but the significance of finishing 6-6 with wins over rivals Miami and Florida would be considerable for year 2 of his program.
Norvell asked about targeting call and how it is viewed through the lens of player safety and the rule. Said he hates how it ended up for Jammie Robinson, states there is absolutely no intent. He seems to reference a desire for coaches and administrators to evaluate the targeting calls in the offseason.
It sounds like the Darius Washington injury isn’t as bad as perhaps Norvell and the staff expected. No real specifics, as usual, but that does sound encouraging for practice and availability for UF game.
Norvell said “we send them in” when asked about specific calls he feels are questionable. He said he has not heard back from ACC. Again references judgement calls. Norvell does indicate one specific crew has penalized FSU 10+ times in four games these last two seasons.
Norvell says you have to embrace the opponent of Miami and the other team (doesn’t mention UF by name). Passionate in speaking about the university and tradition of the rivalry. Feels the Seminoles have done the preparation for the moment but also wants them to remain composed. “I want them to embrace it. I want them to enjoy it. … They will remember this one. I promise.”
Dillingham says Jordan Travis is seeing the game really well, confident. The relationship between Travis and Norvell is continuing to grow. Dillingham views the personal relationship as critical to a quarterback’s development.
Dillingham feels FSU is having more success on rub routes, which has helped the receivers vs. man-to-man coverage.
Dillingham says there’s a heavy red-zone focus in practices, not just inside the 20 but also inside the 10 and other situations.
He praises Jordan Wilson, who has made some big blocks as well as a few catches. Dillingham said Wilson tore his Achilles tendon last year in camp, took time for him to come back and get comfortable.
Dillingham echoes a Norvell line about “what do you want to be remembered for” and says he’s more looking to the future and not the journey of how far the team has come.
Dillingham says he feels the third-down conversions have often been a matter of how effective they have been. He feels they have been good in third-and-short and third-and-medium. Feels the analytics tell you to always go for it on fourth down and inches regardless of where you are on the field.
On FSU-Florida, Dillingham: It’s one of the biggest rivalries there is in sports. Our guys know it. They know the challenge.
Norvell and Fuller usually talk briefly about specific players who are deserving of breaking the rock. He says it’s a team thing. Thinks it could have been one of 3-5 guys. But enjoyed hearing that players suggested it should be Fuller to break the rock in the locker room. “That’s a moment you’re super proud of.”
Fuller says you don’t want to make too much out of one moment, but he says a big play, late in the game, on fourth down was big for building Akeem Dent’s confidence.
To a question about DeLoach’s safety, Fuller first takes time to praise the defensive front’s pressure in getting into Jurkovec’s face and then praises DeLoach for making the play on the screen. He says the coaches have invested a lot of snaps in DeLoach and it is paying off.
To the question of targeting, Fuller says he is all for the overall view of player safety. He doesn’t want coaches to throw their hands up in the air, instead needs to play by the rules, how it is being officiated and operate within the rules. Fuller – It’s a penalty and we lost one of our better players for the game. There’s certain things you can’t do in an open field against a quarterback.
Fuller – Nobody wants to see a player leave a game (due to targeting). The problem is “intent” and referees evaluating that.
Who the play caller is will be a significant part of the evaluation of a team but feels the personnel is more important of a factor.
Fuller – We started nine safeties last year. Mentions injuries to Sidney Williams and Akeem Dent and how that has impacted their play, as well as the defense too. Dent has improved as a tackler because he has worked at it.
Fourth-quarter mindset is physical, mental but also preparation day by day through practice. Coaches want to put players in those situations so when they arise in a game the players feel like they’ve been there before.
Fuller feels a lot of Florida’s quarterback runs have been by design or are RPO-based. They’ve schemed things up well, Fuller said.
Praise for FSU punter Alex Mastromanno. Papuchis said field position and being able to establish it early in the game was critical. He’s performed well in situations.
Papuchis said Mastromanno has gained knowledge of the feel for the college football game. He’s not just punting to the best of his ability like he was in 2020.
Also mentions Ontaria Wilson’s job of downing the ball at the 1. He thinks Ja’Khi Douglas has forced a number of fair catches on punts.
Papuchis: He thinks it’s a necessity to have two high-end pass rushers off the edge and bring four-man pressure up front while focusing on seven men in coverage. If you can establish a pass rush with four guys, it opens up a lot of things on the back end of the defense.
Papuchis says he has worked at good programs and had good experiences as coaches. I may have learned more and grown more this year, just from working with this group of guys. He feels a belief in what they are building.
It’s hard to quantify how much of an impact Keir Thomas has had on the defensive front. Smart, says the right things. His frustration over a few missed sacks or tackles for loss is what drives him. “He wants to put his best performance out there.” Papuchis feels Thomas knows the clock is ticking for him with the knowledge that they have one more regular-season game to go with the goal of getting one more (with a bowl game).
Papuchis says defensive ends can be more aggressive against a pocket quarterback but you have to be disciplined against mobile quarterbacks.