Florida State held its fifth practice of the spring Thursday afternoon under very sunny and windy conditions especially early in practice. The team went 24 periods in full pads in advance of Saturday’s situational scrimmage. It was the third practice of the spring that the media was allowed to attend.
Quarterback Chubba Purdy didn’t participate in practice Thursday and coach Mike Norvell said after practice that the redshirt freshman will concentrate on rehabbing his left shoulder/collarbone, which required two operations during the 2020 season.
“With Chubba, we’ve made a decision as he’s been going through his rehabilitation process coming off the fall, he’s had a really good first four practices,” Norvell said. “We’re going to focus the rest of this spring with him on his rehab process, getting back to 100 percent as we get into the summer program. The growth and development that he’s had mentally, getting the chance to see him go through the first four practices, he’s done some good things. We just want to make sure that in all aspects he’s going to be 100% once we get going in the summer conditioning program with what we’re doing there. His focus for the rest of this spring is going to be on his rehabilitation program. We’re going to continue to work away on that with him.”
True freshman center Thomas Shrader went down with what looked to be a lower leg/knee injury early in practice but Norvell was not sure what the extent of the injury was immediately after practice. If the injury is significant, and we don’t know that it is, it could make the FSU razor-thin for the rest of spring with both Devontay Love-Taylor and Baveon Johnson not yet participating in contact work. Redshirt freshman Zane Herring split time at guard and center once Shrader left practice. Ira Henry III got more reps with the second team at right guard with Herring moving over to take Shrader’s reps.
As Norvell did last Friday he spent the first several periods after the team came out of the indoor facility on the defensive field observing the defensive front before making his way back to the offensive field.
During the special teams period, receivers Keyshawn Helton, Parker Self, Ontaria Wilson and Fernando Padron all got reps returning punts as did defensive backs Jarvis Brownlee and Travis Jay.
Once again the team spent parts of practice doing the Oklahoma or Nole-drill. On offense Cam McDonald, Dontae Lucas were both impressive. Standouts on defense during this period were Jermaine Johnson, Robert Cooper, Tru Thompson and Quashon Fuller. (This is a two-level drill with an OL/TE lined up against DL/LB with RB/WR blocking LB/DB on the second level with a ball carrier. My primary focus was on the first level today.)
One drill we did see for the first time Thursday was the scramble drill, which teaches wide receivers how to adjust their routes once a quarterback is forced to out of the pocket to one side of the field or the other.
The running back went up against the linebackers in a blitz-pickup period with Jashaun Corbin, DJ Williams and Treshaun Ward all having good days for the offense. Amari Gainer, Stephen Dix and DJ Lundy stood out for the defense in this drill.
During the one-on-one pass rush periods the offensive line showed vast improvement over how they performed last Friday. OT Robert Scott, C Maurice Smith and G Dontae Lucas all one the majority of their reps while Dennis Briggs, Derrick McClendon and Josh Farmer stood out on the defensive front. The defense got the better of the offense once they went to the stunt-pickup portion of the practice where there are two rushers coming off the ball on defense and the offense works on whether or not they are supposed to pass the rushers off to each other or stay with the man lineup up over them. Fabien Lovett was once again impressive in this drill.
The periods at the end of practice when the team went to 11-on-11 work on first-and-10 or third-and-long situations were much more competitive than they were when we observed the same period at last Friday’s practice. The offense looked much sharper Thursday and broke off several nice plays during this portion of practice and all of the quarterbacks looked much comfortable and confident than they did just a week ago.