Florida State head coach Mike Norvell and defensive coordinator Adam Fuller met with the media following practice on Wednesday morning. It was the first time Fuller had spoken with media following the Seminoles’ 16-13 loss to Georgia Tech on Saturday night.
Norvell has been pleased with both Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s practice and plans to give the players Thursday off before starting to implement his team’s game plan on Friday for next week’s game against in-state rival Miami.
“We had a good work day today, a little bit shorter practice,” said Norvell. “Continued to work situational ball, a little bit of a modified Wednesday, still went good-on-good. A lot of good special-teams-fundamental work, continuing to work to improve in all those details and the fundamental aspects of the game. I thought our guys were put in some good situations and continuing to learn and get better with each opportunity out there on the practice field. Thought it was a good day, tomorrow will be an off day for them and then we’ll come back Friday with a shortened practice, but really get more of an introduction into Miami for our players as we continue to progress with our coaching staff on early game plans.”
Norvell was asked if there was anything he would change when looking back at Saturday’s close loss.
“Through the course of every game, there’s unique events that occur,” said Norvell. “I look at every aspect in games that you win by three touchdowns or games you lose by a point. It’s all going to be evaluated. There were a lot of things that were out of our control with regard to personnel or pieces that are in place, things that we’ve got to continue to build upon with what we’re asking our guys to do schematically. There were probably 20 plays throughout the course of the game that if it would have had a different result in regard to how we executed or just a communication execution, the outcome of the game would have been different. But that’s going to be the same in every game that you play. It’ll always come down to a handful of plays that provide you an opportunity to win big or to come up short.”
Norvell also noted that FSU is close to getting several players back on the field, including safety Hamsah Nasirildeen and freshmen offensive lineman Thomas Shrader and Robert Scott.
“Any time you have an impactful player like Hamsah that has the versatility in all that he does in both the run game, passing game, it’s such a great dynamic to add, as well as his leadership ability,” said Norvell. “It definitely will be giving us a big boost, so we’re excited about it.”
“I feel that they will be (available for Miami game) and so I’m excited about getting those guys back,” said Norvell of the two linemen. “Like I mentioned yesterday, that kind of took a hit on the offensive line front with the overall depth that we had and having to get into that throughout the course of the game put us in some challenging situations. Fully expect that those guys will be back and ready.”
And while this week has been mostly focused on his own team, Norvell knows his defense will be challenged by Miami quarterback D’Eriq King next week.
“He’s a special player,” said Norvell. “He’s a young man I’ve watched for a few years and I think he’s one of the most dynamic players in college football. It’ll be a little different than what we just saw, but he’s very, very talented in all aspects.”
Fuller talks defense
One of the areas the FSU defense struggled with against the Yellow Jackets was allowing chunk plays, plays from scrimmage that go for 10 yards or more. The Seminoles gave up 18 of those against Georgia Tech, a number that Fuller finds unacceptable.
“The goal is not to give up any,” said Fuller. “There are certain times, plays happen. Good throws, good catches happen. The challenge for our guys is when there are one-on-one plays, we’ve got to make our plays. Some are schematically over the years that somebody makes a play. Some are one-on-one matchups. Some are just great plays. But the challenge to our guys is when we are in that situation, whether it’s a corner, whether it’s a pass rush, or whether it’s a tackle. Whatever that is, good defenses find ways to make their share, get them into third downs and then win the third downs. That’s critical for us to make sure we get better in all areas of that.
“We don’t want to give up 10-yard plays, but we do track plays of 20 yards or more. You make teams drive the field , you don’t ever want that to happen, you want to go three-and-out every time, you want to take the ball quickly, but when the plays do happen, there are some critical things: The ability to tackle, our goal 10 or less each game. We had way too many Saturday. The next thing is 3rd-down defense, because that gives you the ability to get off the field, that involves takeaways. And then it comes down to some red-zone defense as well. The red-zone defense at times was good, including the Pride team getting blocked kicks. You don’t want to rely on those things, but it’s all part of it. But when you give up chunk plays, that obviously creates major moves down the football field. Whether it’s tighter coverage, whether it’s together run fits, whether it’s just tackling the ball better when you’re in that position, all of that needs to get tighter and tighter.”
And despite just surrendering 16 points to Tech, Fuller thought his defense could have played better.
“We got some red-zone stops and created some positive things, but no, we weren’t playing good enough,” said Fuller. “We were a little bit loose with things we wanted to be tighter with at all different levels. Whether it was missed tackles, whether it was coverage, whether it was the rush. We weren’t playing great. At halftime, it’s a fine balance when you’re in at halftime saying, ‘Hey, this is going well, this is not going well, this needs to be addressed, this needs to be changed.’ And then go back do a better job executing for sure.”
He also think his unit need to play faster.
“I don’t think we played fast enough,” said Fuller. “There were certain plays you looked out and you felt really good about the end result, and there were plays that you didn’t feel good enough. I think the plan, there is some first-game situations that probably effected us a little bit that we have to do a better job in coaching that can’t happen, but it all comes to preparation and practice. Has practice been super-clean all the time? No. Our job is to continue to connect how that is happening in practice and making sure there is carry-over on Saturday. We are in the midst of working through that now. No, we didn’t play as fast as we wanted to play.”
Fuller also thought there were too many missed tackles and wasn’t going to allow the lack of spring practice or an unusual preseason due to Covid-19 to be used as an excuse.
“There are a lot of problems in college football sometimes,” said Fuller. “You look at it and whether it is tackling, you look around and all the points given up are high, whatever that all is, but that doesn’t mean it is acceptable. Our job is to find ways to make it not that way. Pursuit and tackling are like two pillars that you need to be able to do. We work it. The intensity of it is consistent with how we work it. Some is just putting guys in better position and some are just the techniques, flaws of tackling in open space in game one. That is happening. That happened yesterday, it is happening today and it is going to happen again throughout the week (in practice). Obviously, if you don’t tackle, it is going to continue just for the drives, the plays, and offensive guys need to make guys miss, they need to catch the ball, defensive guys have got to tackle guys in space, they have to make plays on the ball in the throw game. There were times that that happened and there were times that didn’t happen. So the intensity, the consistency about how we do it is something that we can maybe continue to evaluate, ramp up and get better at.”