McKenzie Milton had good moments throughout Thursday’s practice, including an efficient two-minute drive. The grad transfer’s experience under pressure was a highlight as the Seminoles wrapped up the day.
With the sidelines split, the noise in the IPF rose as the defense cheered on their teammates for a stop. The offensive players on the sideline began to cheer, too. It was the first time in the open portions of practices that the enthusiasm built on each sideline during an 11-on-11 situation.
Milton’s performance was notable not because he strung together a number of completions but because he made the right decisions and knew when to throw the ball away.
“Today he got in a couple situations in two-minute (offense), you see experience and poise,” FSU coach Mike Norvell said. “Even when bad things were happening around him he was able to make a highly educated decision. Those are things that all of our quarterbacks get to grow in those experiences. It’s the reason why we put them in so many (situations).”
With OL, the expectation is known
The difference is quite obvious for offensive line coach Alex Atkins. He and his linemen have built familiarity and there’s an understanding day-to-day of what they need to accomplish in the meeting room and on the practice field.
“They know me,” Atkins said. “They know the expectations. They know the standard. There’s no question, there’s no wonder when you walk in the meeting room. There’s no wonder when we come out here. There’s no wonder when we leave stretch, where I’m going.”
Atkins has emphasized versatility, cross-training linemen in multiple positions as he looks for the best five. “They don’t have a choice,” Atkins said. “We are going to cross train multiple positions. We’re going to play the best ones. They buy in pretty quick because they get that from Day 1.”
One example is Devontay Love-Taylor, who started at left tackle, right tackle and right guard in 2020, has practiced at guard and tackle in camp and Atkins said is an “all-five guy.”
“Experience. Grit. Toughness,” Atkins said. “He’s a guy that’s really changed the dynamic of the room. And he’s really done a good job of building those relationships where if he talks they listen.”
Atkins feels Notre Dame transfer Dillan Gibbons is building camaraderie and familiarity with who he is lining up next to at center or tackle.
“Very experienced,” Atkins said. “Work ethic. What I like about him is he is very similar to Devontay, he’s a guy that has helped build those relationships. He’s still gaining the trust of those guys just getting here. As he continues to build that trust and relationships he’ll get a lot more involved as far as leadership.”
Gibbons said at Notre Dame he was viewed as the “sixth man,” a role that asked him to jump in anywhere he was needed.
“At any point I could have been called upon to do whatever I had to do at any position,” Gibbons said. “Coming in to Florida State, I just kind of bring that to the room whether that be being ready to jump into a game at any position or just that experience overall.”
Gibbons announced recently on social media that he has an NIL agreement with GoFundMe to help promote fund-raising opportunities. He has also started a non-profit — Big man, big heart — to support charitable initiatives.
Former UCF defensive line coach Shane Burnham observed practice on Thursday. Burnham was wearing an FSU T-shirt and talking with coaches. His role with the team or title has not been announced.
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