It feels a lot longer than a month since the FSU football team has played a game. It will have been 28 days when and if the Seminoles do get to play Duke this upcoming Saturday afternoon. But because of the inability to attend practice because of Covid-19 restrictions it seems like it was a season ago. I would love to be able to write in this column what I and we have observed at practice. I am sure that there would have been a lot of takeaways from the last month on the practice field. Instead we are left to parse through the words of Mike Norvell, his assistants and his players to try and determine what is happening with the program.
There is still football being played across the ACC and beyond even if its not being played in Tallahassee. With my fingers crossed that we will have more FSU football to talk about after Saturday afternoon’s game, here are a couple of takeaways from the week that was and wasn’t in college football from this past weekend.
- By the time FSU and Duke kick off on Saturday afternoon (hopefully) it will have been almost a full month (Nov. 14) since the Seminoles have played a ball game. And I think, long term, the layoff will ultimately be beneficial for head coach Mike Norvell, his staff and players. FSU sits at 2-6 heading into its last two ballgames and these extra practices will serve as an early spring if the Seminoles don’t find their way into a bowl (there is no minimum requirements for wins to qualify this season) and that is a bright spot during a long season that is struggling to find an end. In the two-deep released by FSU this week the Seminoles list 26 players on the offensive side of the ball, 19 of whom are listed as redshirt sophomores or younger. On defense, FSU lists 24 individual players with 18 listed as redshirt sophomores or below. These extra snaps in December can’t replace the culture-defining practices missed in March but it should certainly be an early springboard into the 2021 season.
- There are some seniors who deserve a high-five or tip of the cap. Seniors Hamsah Nasirildeen, Baveon Johnson, Janarius Robinson and Emmett Rice have all stayed committed to the program despite enduring a disappointing season and watching a multitude of their teammates opt-out for a variety of reasons. And you could put other veterans, like redshirt junior Joshua Kaindoh, on the list, too. It would have been easy for these guys to opt-out of the extended season (games on Dec. 12 and 19) with this team not going anywhere for the postseason. In a generation that finds it easier to move-on than overcome, what these four young men have done is commendable. Their participation also should help ease concerns of a buy-in factor with Norvell. In the case of Nasirildeen, he has very little to gain by getting back out (and staying there now that he has shown NFL scouts he is returning to health) on the field. The departures have received the headlines but to me the players that stayed might be the real story. We hear the term “Unconquered” a lot in these parts and there certainly doesn’t seem to be any quit in these five.
- It was nice to wake up on Monday morning and read that FSU was a four-point favorite over Duke. That made things a little normal for once this season. Some folks, however, will focus on the fact that FSU is only a four-point favorite.
- Football makes for a small world and this week is no different. Duke offensive line coach Greg Frey was on Willie Taggart’s original FSU staff and of course played for FSU in the early 1990’s. I also have some personal connections on the Blue Devils’ staff and roster. Co-defensive coordinator Ben Albert coached with my brother, Shane, at Richmond in the late 1990s and Duke defensive end Chris Rumph II is the son of Houston Texans assistant coach Chris Rumph. We were both grad assistants on Brad Scott’s staff at South Carolina. One of the unfortunate aspects of Covid is not being able to to visit with them the night prior to the game or say hello on the field prior to the game due to limited access. It’s not the first time this has happened this year which is one of the things I have always enjoyed most about covering games.
- This week in the ACC, I think I will take Pitt over Georgia Tech, Wake Forest over Louisville, Miami over UNC and Virginia over Virginia Tech.
- I think if Coastal Carolina quarterback Grayson McCall decided to enter the transfer portal he could just about name his landing spot. All the true freshman has done this year is throw for over 1,800 yards while completing 68 percent of his passes while leading the Chanticleers to a 10-0 record and to an 11th-place ranking in this week’s AP poll.
- Speaking of transfer quarterbacks I keep on hearing different things about a potential landing spot for UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton. I have heard FSU is a possible landing spot from two people I trust but have also heard from two other sources who I trust that they see him landing at a program that is a little bit further along than the Seminoles are this season and next. There are a lot of variables including the unknowns about exactly how Milton will look as a player once he returns to game action. I could see how Milton ends up in Tallahassee just as easily as I could see how he might end up at a place like Florida, Nebraska, Miami or somewhere on the west coast. And I think I will have a better idea of where he may land later this week but too many variables to dive into the details.
- Because of the large number of players entering the portal I think I will probably be spending more time that I would like researching which entrants have ties to Norvell and/or coaches on his staff. I would imagine we will see the numbers of players entering continue to grow as the last two weeks of the regular season play out.
- I still question if Ohio State makes the playoff with just seven games played while the SEC and ACC representatives have played 10 or more games. If so, we ought to just go back to naming the national champion via polls or some kind of data-driven computer model. If the Buckeyes make it in the playoffs it will be based off brand, history and standing — not off of their resume. If you let Ohio State in with just seven games played how do you say a one-loss Texas A&M team doesn’t deserve a shot at the playoffs? The playoff committee should have at least expanded the playoffs to eight teams if it planned to allow the Big Ten champion in regardless of playing substantially less games than SEC or ACC teams.
- It’s only Tuesday, so things could change but, boy, I will be glad to get back to talking about on-the-field football and watching this young FSU football team develop over the next two games as opposed to all the off-the-field stuff, which is all we will have to talk about between December19th and spring football practice starts.
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