JACKSONVILLE – Florida State took to the practice field at North Florida for what Mike Norvell described as an intense practice Thursday morning. The competition was evident from the start and reps were distributed up and down the roster. Here are some observations and we’ll add more later in the afternoon.
“It was good to come out today and have some humidity and be in a different situation, difference circumstance, traveling today,” Norvell said. “Tensions were high at practice but an opportunity for us to learn and an opportunity for us to focus on our response moving forward.”
The offense scored several times in short-yardage situations but the competition was quite good with the defense matching the intensity.
Defensive backs stood out throughout the day and were flying around the field. Meiko Dotson had a pass breakup and was consistent in coverage. He also made a tackle as a gunner on special teams coverage, eliciting a “Way to go, Meiko!” from Norvell.
Hunter Washington had multiple defensive plays on one drive from tackles to a pass break-up and a sack. Brendan Gant’s physicality stands out and he was very active, making plays in the middle of the field. Jammie Robinson and Jarvis Brownlee have also continued his consistent spring. Shyheim Brown also ranged over from safety to break up a pass.
Jashaun Corbin has been very steady. He doesn’t get stuffed and when he meets contact continues to push forward. D.J. Williams also earned a number of reps on the day. C.J. Campbell looked impressive running between the tackles, extending runs.
The offensive linemen are being coached well by assistant coach Alex Atkins, who is correcting hand placement, footwork and technique. Physicality is important to Atkins, who wants feet set to deliver a punch (even in pass blocking), former FSU offensive lineman Todd Fordham noted. Shotgun snaps were erratic and often affected the timing of plays.
Jordan Travis again showed off improved footwork and technique as well as accuracy, especially on intermediate and deeper throws.
Drops were again an issue among the receiving corps. Camren McDonald had a long touchdown grab from Jordan Travis early in practice. Preston Daniel secured a number of tough catches in short-yardage situations.
Dennis Briggs received plentiful reps and showed his athleticism.
Norvell and the staff spend a significant amount of time on special teams. It’s clear the emphasis the coaches put there, using starters and backups in key roles.
Norvell said the team will wear full pads for the Friday morning practice. The players seemed to have embraced rooming together in dorms on the UNF campus, taking part in team-building activities as well as position meetings and film review.
“It’s different for sure,” Travis said. “Every year we do go somewhere different, so it is good. It’s a good change. It’s a little bit of adversity. We travel to away games. We got to be able to perform in a different location that we’re not used to.”
The Seminoles will scrimmage on Saturday evening in Tallahassee.
Jerry Kutz contributed observations