FSU coach Mike Norvell as well as the Seminoles’ three coordinators – Kenny Dillingham, Adam Fuller and John Papuchis – will speak to the media on Tuesday. Below are updates from all four:
We’ll start with a big update with COVID vaccination rate and the Seminoles. Norvell did not address the 85 percent threshold desired by the ACC but it appears the team is well on its way toward that goal.
“Over 90 percent of our team has started the process towards full vaccination,” Norvell said. “I will put that out there, we’re getting closer every day when it comes to that. And I appreciate Dr. Myron Rolle and all the different people that have come and spoke to our team. For us it’s about providing education, and these are 18-22 year old young men that with all decisions just trying to provide them the information that is necessary for them to feel confident in any decision that they make. And so I’m grateful for that and obviously we’re well on our way, we’re going to continue on with that process of making sure guys are being safe and put ourselves in the best position to go out there and play this game.”
What does this mean? FSU’s unvaccinated players will be tested three times per week until the team hits the ACC’s threshold of 85 percent. Norvell’s comment likely references that 90 percent of players have taken one of two shots. And if we’re to presume three or four weeks between shots, then the Seminoles are still a few weeks away from hitting the 85 percent mark.
On the Notre Dame run game, which accumulated 353 rushing yards on 8.4 yards per carry in the 2020 game: “They know what they’re trying to accomplish when it comes to the run game and it starts up front,” Norvell said. “And then when you have great tight ends and running backs that run with a true purpose. It’s a challenging spot.”
Notre Dame’s Marcus Freeman is one of the best defensive coordinators in college football. It’s going to be a great challenge for our guys to adapt through the flow of the game.
On ND quarterback Jack Coan: He’s played in big games, in adverse conditions and crowds in the Big Ten. Norvell sees him as an accurate passer. He’s a new starter to Notre Dame but not in terms of experience. The FSU staff has reviewed film of Coan from Wisconsin.
Norvell says the returners all have home-run capability and thinks the return game has to be improved for the Seminoles in 2021.
Norvell says kicker Ryan Fitzgerald has had a great camp, has been put in some challenging situations.
Norvell says he’s excited about the quarterback room but does not commit to a starter between Jordan Travis and McKenzie Milton. “I’m really excited about that quarterback room and the competition that we have, the versatility of skill sets that these guys bring,” Norvell said. The excitement is building for Milton as he has gone through his recovery but also how he has adapted to the terminology and developed relationships with the Seminoles.
D.J. Lundy and Kalen DeLoach have shown a relentless pursuit and both have developed, helping strengthen the linebacker group.
Dennis Briggs broke the rock after the Sunday mock game. Norvell says he has been a story of hard work and that Briggs has thanked his teammates for their support of him in his development.
He loves the work ethic of the receivers but also the influx of talent in the group.
Dillingham says he is looking for efficiency and explosiveness with offense.
He’s “a lot more confident” in the offensive line group. “It’s about continuity, it’s about teamwork, it’s about communication.” A big part of being consistent is the offensive line. Feels there are eight, maybe nine, linemen they can depend on.
He thinks OL “big negatives” of pre-snap penalties and tackles for loss will be minimized.
Dillingham says there is a specific plan to how to rotate the running backs. They will often go with the “hot hand” but want backs to be fresh as part of a game plan for the second half.
He feels the quarterbacks can understand a defensive player’s mannerisms and read the FSU defense easier after frequency on the practice field. With preparation turning toward Notre Dame and the Fighting Irish defensive personnel, they are weighing what the players will do within the scheme.
“I said from the day that we got here that needs to be the front porch of our defense,” Fuller said of the front four. “Whether it’s due to recruiting, due to development, whether it’s due to scheme, that’s been a major push this offseason. It’s been impactful here early in preseason, and we’re going to lean on them to be make an impact all over the football field on Sunday night.”
He’s happy with the work done by the players, including the transfers and how the group has developed under Odell Haggins and John Papuchis.
Fuller says the three transfer defensive ends – Jermaine Johnson, Keir Thomas and Marcus Cushnie “have been everything we’ve looked for.” Mentions their work ethic and how they have practiced.
He says Cortez Andrews is a “heavy handed, physical player. He’s somebody we can find a role for.”
Fuller says D.J. Lundy will play a lot of football this year. Lundy is one of if not the biggest FSU linebacker and could be effective in slowing Notre Dame’s run game.
Dennis Briggs is “powerful, super long.” Fuller is seeing his technique and confidence grow.
Fuller says Kevin Knowles “will play and play early” this season. Mentions a number of true freshmen who could see playing time as the season progresses, from Shyheim Brown to Joshua Farmer and Hunter Washington.
He’s excited about the work ethic and attitude as well as what Jermaine Johnson brings to the table each day.
Derrick McLendon and Quashon Fuller have “made progress.” Patrick Payton has gained weight, about 20-25 pounds. George Wilson’s speed and athleticism is obvious even though he has a slighter frame. References the four-game rule that would allow coaches to use players in any four games over the course of a year without costing them a season of eligibility. The core group is all a year better after having the experience under their belts.
The kicking competition was 50-50 coming out of spring. Ryan Fitzgerald was “very consistent” in camp. Fitzgerald did well in the end-of-game kicking scenarios to close out practices.
Travis Jay “is a weapon with the ball in his hands” and will be used as a punt and kick returner.
Fundamentals of special teams often translate well to offense and defense. He’s seen tremendous progress in various segments, from kick game to punt game, coverage and returns.