Florida State’s defense won the day in the second scrimmage of spring on Saturday, March 27 in Doak Campbell Stadium.
The offense did have one nice touchdown drive to open the two-hour scrimmage but was held to two field goals – one from 51 yards – in the following 16 possessions.
“I thought they did a good job for the most part,” coach Mike Norvell said of his team after the scrimmage. “I thought the defense was dominant today. The first drive, the offense was able to go down and get a touchdown, (because the defense) lost contain on a couple of rushes, quarterback scrambles, things that we’ve got to improve on and eliminate those mistakes. But the response from the defense was really good.”
Norvell was very vocal with the defense following the opening drive.
“Offensively, not very sharp today,” he continued. “Had more penalties, pre-snap penalties, mistakes, missed assignments throughout the scrimmage, especially in critical situations. Some guys that hadn’t been in the rotation are kind of forced into some action, had some early, rookie mistakes. Also had some missed opportunities there offensively.”
Such is the nature of spring when you are conflicted by what you see. Was it good defense today or poor offense? Tough to tell when you are playing yourself and not an opponent.
“As you go through it, there were a lot of good things we saw from the offense in the first scrimmage and the defense had some mistakes I thought they got corrected today.” Norvell said. “Much better in the open-field tackling. There’s still some tackles we’ve got to get down, but especially in the first group, I thought it was much improved in that aspect.”
Spring game information
Florida State’s spring football game will be broadcast on the ACC Network on Saturday, April 10 at 5 p.m., which will be an opportunity for you to see the team for yourself.
Tickets are now on sale for $10 in the grandstand and $40 in the Dunlap Champions Club. Call 850-644-1830 to purchase or visit Seminoles.com.
The ACC Network will televise eight ACC spring football games in March and April. They are on March 27 — Duke, 10 a.m., April 3 — Clemson, 1 p.m., April 10 — NC State, 1 p.m., April 17 — Miami, 11 a.m., April 17 — Pittsburgh, 1 p.m., April 23 — Georgia Tech, 6 p.m., April 24 — North Carolina, 3 p.m., April 24 — Boston College, TBA.
Details on Spring Scrimmage 2
The first-unit defense included Brandon Moore, Jarrian Jones, nickel safety Jammie Robinson and safeties Travis Jay and Sydney Williams. Stephen Dix and Amari Gainer were at linebacker, Quashon Fuller and Derrick McClendon at ends and Robert Cooper and Dennis Briggs at tackles. Fabian Lovett and Jermaine Johnson rotated in with the first unit.
Johnson, a recent transfer defensive end from Georgia, and Lovett, a defensive lineman who transferred from Mississippi State a year ago, were most impressive.
“The guys that have performed and played well throughout the spring for the most part are continuing to grow,” Norvell said, mentioning Johnson and Lovett as well as tackle Dennis Briggs and defensive end Derrick McLendon, who comprised the first unit.
“I thought all those guys were working hard up there on the defensive front, creating some havoc,” Norvell said. “I thought it was a positive day for what we saw defensively. Got to continue to build and grow off of that and then the things offensively that we’ve got to get corrected, we’ve got to see that response.”
With linebacker Emmett Rice out of spring practice, Amari Gainer moved into the middle linebacker spot with the No. 1 unit. Stephen Dix Jr., Kalen DeLoach and D.J. Lundy shared reps with the first- and second-units.
Defensive backs coach Marcus Woodson is impressed with the four newcomers FSU added to the defensive back position. Transfers Robinson (South Carolina), Brandon Moore (UCF), Jarques McClellion (Arkansas) and 2021 signee Kevin Knowles, who enrolled in school in January.
Robinson and Moore have already broken into the rotation, while McClellion has not been able to practice yet.
Quarterback Jordan Travis was at the helm for the first touchdown, which featured some quarterback runs and scrambles, and was the most effective quarterback at moving the chains throughout the scrimmage. He worked behind a starting line of center Maurice Smith, guards Dontae Lucas and Brady Scott as well as tackles Robert Scott and Darius Washington.
McKenzie Milton alternated reps with Travis in the first-team offense, while Tate Rodemaker led all but two drives with the second-team offense. The three quarterbacks did not have much success in the passing game. The second-team offensive line included center Zane Herring, Bryson Estes and walk-on Dylan Black at guard, Ira Henry and Chaz Neal at tackles.
Unofficial stats had Travis completing 9 of 13 passes in open-field situations, including 5 of 6 passes thrown 15 yards or less. Travis made several nice runs on scrambles, picking up 45 yards on four carries to keep drives alive during his series with the first and second-team offense. Milton completed 2 of 8 passes. His stats suffered with dropped passes. Rodemaker completed 5 of 9 nine passes in open-field situations with the most success on longer throws. He had one completion of over 30 yards and another that was dropped in the end zone by true freshman Malik McClain.
The offense as a whole struggled.
“We were put in a lot of bad situations today,” said offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham when asked about the quarterbacks. “Offensively, we had too many MAs (missed assignments).We put some younger guys in there and too many MAs. We couldn’t develop a rhythm. You’ve either got to be elite efficiency, which means you got to be able to go on 10-, 12-, 15-play drives and score or you have to be explosive.”
The Seminoles were neither for most of the day.
“We would start drives, get a first down and get a penalty and then we didn’t hit on the big balls,” Dillingham said. “So when you’re not explosive and you’re hurting yourself to be efficient, you’re stuck in no man’s land offensively.”
Dillingham will use Saturday’s scrimmage as a teaching moment for his quarterbacks.
“We’ve just got to understand in a scrimmage you’re not going to be able to extend the play as much, so try to find and work your check downs more and a little bit quicker,” he said.
The running game was the most dependable aspect of the offense. Running back Jashaun Corbin ran 13 times for 57 yards during the open-field portion. Lawrance Toafili ran six times for 14 yards, while walk-on running back Treshaun Ward had 45 yards on 11 carries. Both Corbin and Toafili were the most productive receivers on Saturday.
“I wanted to see some extensive work from Jashaun,” Norvell said. “He had a really good set and I wanted to see some of those young backs get some good work and they did. Jashaun did a really nice job today, with and without the ball in his hands. He is a great leader, a guy that is very consistent. It means the world to him and every day he’s showing up, showing some really good flashes. Had some really good runs and catches out of the backfield.”
Ontaria Wilson, Kentron Poitier and Malik McClain all flashed at times but no one stepped up to emerge as true go-to guys.
Defense won more one on one battles
The defense forced several three-and-outs during the scrimmage and was very successful getting to the quarterback.
“I think we played well,” said defensive coordinator Adam Fuller when asked about the defensive line. “I think we played well inside. Early on we let a bunch of balls out in the scramble game, and that’s been a big emphasis for us this spring, just creating rush-lane discipline. We all want sacks but there’s a disciplined way to do it. Coach JP (John Papuchis) and coach (Odell) Haggins, they’re doing a great job…”
Fuller was also encouraged by the execution of the defense as a whole and its ability to win one-on-one battles across the board.
“I think last week the offense came out and they did a great job,” said Fuller. “This week, (the defense) won the day, whatever that means. But I think we executed better, we had less miss fits with the linebackers. I think we did a better job of just caging the quarterback in our pass rush. We won some one-on-ones. Travis Jay gets Jashaun Corbin down. It comes down to those plays sometimes and that’s what you want to see in these scrimmages. You want to see some competitive excellence. There’s several one-on-one battles on every play that if played with the right technique and played with good effort, then it comes down to who wins those matchups and I think that’s what these spring scrimmages are for.”
“The defense won the day,” said Norvell. “They did what they needed to do. At the end of the day, if you don’t execute offensively, defensively or in special teams, it doesn’t matter, you’re hurting yourself. If somebody executes really well, you’ve got to do your job and still win the rep.”
Cornerback Jarvis Brownlee, defensive tackle Josh Farmer and linebacker Emmett Rice did not practice. The offense did not have the services of offensive linemen Thomas Shrader and Devontay Love-Taylor, tight end Wyatt Rector or quarterback Chubba Purdy.
FSU will practice twice this week, Monday and Wednesday, before taking the Easter weekend off.