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Notes: Norvell excited for first FSU-UM on sideline, Thomas honored

In a 3-6 season filled with speedbumps that have slowed Florida State’s progress, there is no better opportunity that what awaits in the road ahead: The chance to turn a season of “ooh” and “ugh” into “wow” with a win over rivals like Miami and Florida.

There’s an old question of “would you rather” that includes a less-than-satisfying record or wins over in-state rivals. That’s where the Seminoles are in 2021, a competitive team that has fought but fallen short on the scoreboard but still has a chance to make a lasting impression with a win Saturday against Miami (3:30 p.m. on ESPN) and at slumping Florida in two weeks.

It’s Norvell’s first taste of the rivalry firsthand since he missed the Sept. 2020 game at Miami due to COVID. 

“Actually in our staff meeting this morning, that’s one of the things I mentioned, I’m excited about this game,” Norvell said. “I’m excited about being a part of this game. You come to Florida State and the first thing you think about are those games and not only what they mean to the program, to the state, the fan base, everybody involved. It was unfortunate last year that I wasn’t able to be there. It’s been a long time coming. A lot of excitement from our players and staff to be able to compete. Miami is on a three-game win streak, playing with a lot of confidence here of late. We know for this game, you take all records out of it. You take everything that’s happened up into it, it’s about what we do this week. Come 3:30 on Saturday, there’s going to be a ton of passion, a ton of excitement.”

And in an odd set of scheduling Saturday’s game will be just Norvell’s second against one of FSU’s biggest three rivals. The Seminoles did not play Clemson or Florida in 2020, and FSU has only played the Tigers in a 2021 schedule that is backloaded with rivals.

FSU has not beaten a rival in nearly four years, since the victory at Florida on Nov. 25, 2017. In what has been a wild season, which followed a surreal often-interrupted 2020 season, there is no better finish than to knock off a rival.

Injury update

Norvell did not have an update on Jordan Travis or a timeframe for when the quarterback could return to practice. Travis missed Saturday’s game. While Norvell has not specified that Travis has the flu bug that hit the Seminoles last week, that is likely to be the case given his comments on Saturday and Monday.

“We’re going to see how the week progresses,” Norvell said. “He was in pretty tough shape this past weekend. Carried over to yesterday. And we’ll see as we progress throughout the week.”

ACC players of week

Keir Thomas was named the ACC’s defensive lineman of the week on Monday. Thomas had three tackles, including a career-best two sacks against NC State. He has had 3.5 sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss in the last two games, vs. NC State and at Clemson.

Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke was named the ACC’s rookie of the week for a third straight week. Van Dyke threw for 389 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in a 33-30 win over Georgia Tech. He is just the fourth ACC player in the last 15 yers with at least 300 passing yards in three straight league games.

The Hurricanes’ Charleston Rambo has been named the ACC’s receiver of the week. Rambo caught seven passes for a career-high 210 yards and a touchdown against the Yellow Jackets.

Purdy’s transfer decision

Norvell was asked about Chubba Purdy’s transfer from FSU, which was announced by the quarterback on Wednesday.

“Chubba came in on Tuesday,” Norvell said. “Kind of informed me where he had got to. Said it was him and a family decision to leave. It was a shock really to a lot people around the program. At the end of the day, it’s each young man’s decision of what they want to do and what it looks like. He was actually one of the guys that was out on Monday, and coming into Tuesday with what was going around last week. It was one of those things, it kind of caught me off-guard a little bit, but I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham echoed many of Norvell’s thoughts and expounded on Purdy’s progress in his time in Tallahassee.

“We’re not going to sugarcoat things, we’re going to tell them exactly where we think they stand, whether they like it or not, whether it’s good or bad for them,” Dillingham said. “And then they got to make the best decision that’s best for them. That’s why that transfer portal is there for those guys. Coaches leave all the time. And I don’t think the transfer portal is a bad thing. I think it’s the best opportunity for those guys to for them to be successful in their own right. So I’m rooting for him to be successful in his next chapter and I know for a fact that he got drastically better through his time here. I know he knows he got better through his time here. And that’s all I can control.”

Norvell also reflected on how the transfer portal has impacted the 2022 roster and other factors related to recruiting and building the program.

“I can’t fully tell you what our roster is going to look like next year,” Norvell said. “I’ve had some of those discussions about guys wanting to have time to look. But the flip side of it is, right now, coming off COVID where some schools are over scholarship counts. Everybody has another year of eligibility unless they were a super senior. Who’s going to come back, who’s not. There are so many dynamics that go into play with that. I think there are some players who probably left early, but we’re limited right now. Even with people who are in the transfer portal, even at some positions that we’re going to look at, just knowing how many are you going to take at this position? Or are we going to have availability when it comes to scholarship numbers? So many unique dynamics to this year.

“But I do believe it’ll probably be something in the future where kids will leave in the middle of the season, or when they hit a certain point of the season if they want to, we’ve seen that a little with the four games and things like that. It’s a new age in college football. You’ve got to adapt and adjust to it.”