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Travis focused on footwork as he seeks improvement as passer in pocket

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Less than two weeks ago, Jordan Travis had thrown fewer than 30 college passes. There were questions about if he could throw and how well. There were even questions about whether he was Florida State’s No. 2 or No. 3 quarterback.

Now, he has seven quarters of significant college football experience. Those 41 passes and, yes, all the rushing plays, time in the offense, have helped his growth as a quarterback and given him game tape to review each week.

“There are a lot of things that I have to correct,” Travis said on Wednesday. “I just have to trust my eyes and keep my footwork. That is the one thing that’s really important that we’ve been emphasizing this week is working on my footwork. I have to trust my eyes, trust my feet, once that is good, I have a good chance to make a good throw.”

Travis and the offense are still a work in progress, learning together on the fly. For every long, sustained drive, there’s a quick three-and-out. Not getting ahead of the chains has resulted in third-and-shorts as well as third-and-long situations, and FSU struggled to convert on either against the Fighting Irish. 

But there also have been positives, from the five straight touchdown drives against Jacksonville State to the 26 points at Notre Dame. Travis has helped spark the running game and receivers are playing well and blocking more consistently. The offense, quite simply, is playing well around the quarterback with Travis as the starter. He is 26 of 44 (59.1 percent) for 426 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in 2020. But he also still has just 69 college passes under his belt, including his time at Louisville.

For all the discussion about Travis’ throwing ability and focus on what he could do as a runner, Travis spent his offseason with the intention of improving as a quarterback in the pocket.

“I was working on being in the pocket, playing in the pocket, because I feel like I got something that’s just natural outside the pocket making plays,” Travis said. “But I have to work on staying in the pocket, making throws. So that was really important to me, just staying in the pocket.”

Travis has been more accurate when on the move, but the next step in his progression is learning to see the whole field, making reads and good (as well as quick) decisions from the pocket while under pressure. But it’s also not lost that his ability to escape pressure has allowed for him to extend plays and seek open receivers. The scramble drills are in full effect with Travis at quarterback.

The run game has also been given a jolt because of what Jordan can do, both with his legs and arm. Defenses aren’t consistently loading the box with as many defenders if they see Travis’ ability to throw, especially intermediate but ideally take some shots deep. FSU ran for 153 yards at Notre Dame, averaging 3.8 yards per carry.

“I feel like it has opened up a lot of things,” Travis said. “The run game for sure, because people are starting to respect my arm a little bit more. The main goal every single day is just go out there, just getting confidence in my arm. But, yes, that opened up a lot of things.”

Report: Terry to have knee procedure

Tamorrion Terry is expected to undergo a knee procedure this week, according to a report by Noles247. Terry is coming off his two best games of the year, including a nine-catch, 146-yard performance at Notre Dame. He also caught a 48-yard TD pass from Travis.

Terry admitted on Tuesday that he is “still banged up” and has been fighting through an injury (or injuries) for some time. It’s possible a knee procedure, of which the details aren’t known, would keep him out a few weeks, according to the report. The timing of a surgical procedure now could minimize his time lost as FSU plays North Carolina on Saturday and then travels to Louisville before a bye on Oct. 31. The Seminoles wouldn’t return to the field until a Nov. 7 home game against Pittsburgh.

Rice sees fight in FSU defense

The points and yards have added up to what has been a difficult start for Florida State in 2020. There are two big positives, though, as the Seminoles have played markedly improved on the defensive side of the ball in the second halves against Jacksonville State and Notre Dame.

FSU’s defensive staff is making halftime or in-game adjustments and the Seminoles are responding with a fight-to-the-finish mindset that had been missing in past years.

“I did sense a different feeling from the previous years,” linebacker Emmett Rice said. “We showed that we can keep fighting and that’s a plus. We just have to have that fight from the first play to the last.”

The numbers for an entire game have been ugly, especially FSU’s rush defense. But it’s also a good sign that the Seminoles allowed Jacksonville State to score just three points and held Notre Dame to a touchdown last week. FSU also minimized the big plays after halftime against the Fighting Irish.

Yes, there’s still plenty of room for improvement. But Rice feels it begins in practices with the energy the defense should bring. 

“We start with the overall picture of running to the ball because the pursuit, the effort to the ball really does eliminate a lot of mistakes,” Rice said. “Effort and violence eliminates a lot of mistakes on defense. But it’s really the communication. Just communicating with one another and making sure everybody is on the same page. Even if we’re all on the wrong page we’re alright because we’re all on the same page.”

During Notre Dame’s final drive of the night, the Fighting Irish were determined to run the baall and did so on 11 of 12 plays. The Seminoles did give up four first downs before Rice stopped Notre Dame’s Chris Tyree for no gain on fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line. Rice credited film review and what the coaches helped him identify pre-snap on the play.

“I knew it pretty fast because of the fullback motion,” Rice said. “That’s something that we had looked at on our film. And also I knew in the goal-line area they like to run outside. It was a little film recognition.”

Improved practice on Wednesday

A week ago, Norvell was very critical of FSU’s Wednesday practice and how the team performed in situational drills. But this week, Norvell clearly liked what he saw.

“Today was a good practice,” Norvell said. “Thought our guys came out, got good work in our situations, third down, red-zone. Definitely much improved from last week’s Wednesday. Was pleased with what I saw, guys are continuing to work to get better. Trying to bring that game type of intensity.

Purdy making progress

True freshman Chubba Purdy has not been able to play in a game but he is able to do more on the practice field, Norvell said.

“Chubba is progressing really well, was able to get him some more extended work throughout the course of this week starting on Sunday,” Norvell said. “Got some good work today as well.”

Jay back at practice

Safety Travis Jay was injured in the Miami game and has not returned. Norvell said Jay is also making progress from a foot/leg injury.

“Travis got work today in practice,” Norvell said. “I’m excited about the opportunity to get him back and will see what that is come game day.”

FSU has played the last two games without Jay and all four games without Hamsah Nasirildeen. Jay’s return would help a rush defense that has given up big plays this season, plays he could minimize whether he’s playing closer to the line of scrimmage or deep.

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