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Norvell pleased with team’s progress after first scrimmage of spring

Florida State held its first scrimmage of the spring under cloudy and cool conditions earlier Saturday inside Doak Campbell Stadium. The controlled or situational scrimmage lasted two hours and was attended by several hundred fans.

Coach Mike Norvell was pleased with his offense getting off to a fast start and equally impressed with the defense’s response to that in the latter part of the scrimmage.

“I thought the first offense really started well, we were able to kind of mix the rotation there at quarterback,” said Norvell. “I think they scored on, might have been the first four drives and then I thought the defense did a remarkable job in their response. Came back and was able to finish the scrimmage well on the back end.”

Norvell was also pleased with what he saw from quarterbacks Jordan Travis, McKenzie Milton and Tate Rodemaker.

“I thought they did a really nice job,” said Norvell. “Just being out there, that’s part of the reasons why during scrimmages I stand out (behind the offense), I want to hear the communication. All three (quarterbacks) had plays where they’re going to have to learn from in managing situations, but I thought all three did a really good job. Probably as far along as we’ve been collectively as a group in being able to get out there and execute. Made some great throws down the field, extended plays. I thought it was a good day for the quarterbacks. Still some things we’re going to have to obviously be able to clean up and just better understanding in certain situations. We took a couple negatives, but I was pleased with that position.”

Milton also seems to be settling into Norvell’s offense as the team concluded its second week of spring practice.

“I think he’s taken giant steps,” said Norvell. “Really the last two days you’ve seen him, you see the confidence with where his eyes need to be and really going through that progression, understanding that language. He also made a couple really nice checks today as well that put us in good situations.”

He also continues to be impressed by the quarterback room as a whole with all three players pushing each other but indicated he would like to see the same kind of improvement from Travis and Rodemaker.

“That’s a thing where you see guys, McKenzie, Jordan, even Tate today showed some good things,” said Norvell. “They’re helping each other, they’re growing together and that’s something that I’m excited about because you see the relationships in that room, we’re all competing. We know every rep matters. You see the confidence they’re showing and even between the series, kind of watching them communicate between each other and helping each other with what they’re seeing. But I’m really pleased with how much McKenzie has grown through the first six practices. We’ve got to have the same type of growth with those guys as we move forward.”

While the offense had success in open-field situations the defense showed its backbone during the goal-line portion of the scrimmage.

“That was big,” said Norvell. “There was one drive where I think they had to go six plays inside the 2-yard line, which is exciting to see that response. There was a penalty that obviously we can’t have. But it still gave them an opportunity to go out there and show that response. It’s something we talk about throughout this program in all aspects. There’s many times your back is going to be against the well, but how do you respond? There’s two situations where we’re down within the 3-yard line and one of them was able to hold the offense to a field-goal and the other we got a fourth-down stop. I thought that was one of the bright spots of the day. But offensively, we have to continue to work and make sure that when we get down there we can finish the ball in the end zone.”

Norvell is also pleased with the physical and mental toughness he saw from the defense today.

“I think our guys are embracing that expectation,” said Norvell. “We have to be physical. Everybody talks about that being part of the game, but that has to show up and be consistent whether you feel good or don’t. The mindset, the approach. And that’s the way that we’re practicing each and every day. Our guys, you could see that starting to show up. There were still some plays we have to be better at through today, but we’ll go back and watch the film and continue to hold guys to that standard. But the thing that I like, even with the first offense getting off to a good start throughout the scrimmage, just seeing the energy that our defense keeps playing with and continuing to respond. And there were a couple spark plays that kind of gave them a boost. It was a good sight to see and I think the physicality is definitely improving.”