Notes: McDonald, receivers embrace scramble rules

They are covered until the quarterback scrambles. And then the secondary is scrambling.

When Jordan Travis rolls out, eluding pressure, he has a few options as he surveys half of the field. It’s nearly impossible for a defensive back to cover a receiver or tight end that long, hence the scramble rules. One example was Travis running, head up and looking downfield, and finding tight end Camren McDonald in the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown against North Carolina.

“I think the big plays during scramble drills come from repetition at practice,” McDonald said. “Jordan’s really good about getting extra reps after practice, trying to find that edge to get the 1 percent and a lot of times he wants to work scramble drills.”

The scramble has been in full effect the last three weeks and FSU’s wide receivers know the rules. Receivers coach Ron Dugans mentioned going into the UNC game that the scramble drills were either going to be an essential part of practice, perhaps a full period. But it could also be a practice period and time after practice. McDonald confirmed the added work is paying off.

“We work scramble drill a lot after practice and then easily it translated into the game and it turned out to be a big play for us,” McDonald said. “I’m glad we put in the work that we did.”

McDonald has 13 catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns. He and Ontaria Wilson are the only Seminoles to have a reception in all five of FSU’s games this season. McDonald was asked this week about how good winning a top-5 game felt and likely summed up the emotions of the FSU players as well as fans.

“You definitely want more because winning is addictive, but it felt good to be able to do it for the Seminole family because, for a long time, they’ve been waiting for that big win from Florida State football,” McDonald said. “Some of the people told us that was the best Florida State football they’ve seen since 2014. That made me feel good to be a part of that. It is addictive so you do want more, you want to be able to build and create some momentum going forward into the future so we can be able to carry it for seasons to come.”

Helton’s comeback from injury

Keyshawn Helton missed the second half of the 2019 season due to knee surgery. His healthy return figured to be a critical piece of a receiving corps that is still developing its depth this fall. Helton has worn a brace through the start of the 2020 season, likely helping provide some confidence from an injury that happened just over one year ago (on Oct. 12 at Clemson).

“Right now, I’m expecting to play with it the whole year,” Helton said. “Working towards being my best. For me, I just attack every day with the same mindset and approach. I don’t worry about my circumstances because no one cares about them. I’m glad I’m back out there with my team.”

Helton had two receptions for 43 yards on Saturday, both on a second-quarter touchdown drive that put FSU up 17-0. With Tamorrion Terry on the sideline following knee surgery, FSU’s passing game was far from efficient but it did make plenty of big plays— especially as part of the 31-point first half.

“I just approached the game the same way, even though he wasn’t there,” Helton said. 
“I just have to take advantage of my opportunities and that’s how I approached it. With a big-time receiver like Tamorrion going down, of course as a receiving group we had to step up and make plays.”

Brownlee sees extended playing time

Jarvis Brownlee saw the most significant playing time against the Tar Heels, starting for the first time and recording four tackles. The freshman defensive back played in a variety of roles, from corner to nickel and edge rusher (he added his first career sack).

“We’ve been trying to focus on nickel with him,” defensive coordinator Adam Fuller said. “He wasn’t super clean. But you can see he offers a lot of different things. He rushed the passer, played man coverage, has decent zone feel as well.”

Brownlee now has 10 tackles on the season. He said he enjoyed the expanded role vs. UNC, and it clearly showed with his performance.

“I feel like it was a great win,” Brownlee said. “We put in so much work to be where we are at now. To win, you got to lose. Just like to be happy, you have to be disappointed. We just got to keep working. That was just the spark for us. Now we are ready to go to Louisville and get another win.”

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