July 18, 2024

I’m blessed to have him” mike Norvell adimit after seeing his real talent…

Mike Norvell gave the best impression of Allen Iverson on Tuesday. He made it clear to the media on Saturday that it was a display rather than a game—a prettier way of describing practice.

The highlight of the day was supposed to be the clothes. Playing in a construction zone, Florida State’s home sideline bleachers were reduced to a mound of dirt at the moment. Instead of giving the spectators a green penny, it appeared like the staff decided to throw a curveball to the supporters and fans by dressing the quarterbacks and players in turquoise Seminole Heritage jerseys.

As the afternoon dragged on, the Doak DJ went with the cha-cha slide while the offense snapped the ball in the red zone to keep the crowd engaged. The new LED lights malfunctioned at one point, and a laser show was put on during the showcase.

Even with all the caveats, Florida State played an incredibly physical and competitive style of “practice” that looked much more like a game than one would have expected. Consecutive 11-on-11 periods that ran 15 and 10 minutes respectfully brought the boom from both sides of the ball — at least three FSU players were seen needing help back to the locker room as the Seminoles ratcheted up the intensity that made April 20th feel like a fall Saturday.

The whole point of not playing a hard-nosed football game was to keep players fresh and not give opponents extra scouting. The Seminoles accomplished neither, as Malik Benson was carted off halfway through, and Mike Norvell called play action and some of their intricate concepts. While the elongated 11-on-11 periods gave fans something to latch onto for the long summer months, I left today with more questions than answers:

Say Benson is healthy and is good to go, who is the No. 2 receiver on the roster?

What is the best offensive line combination?

Should FSU continue to run long developing run plays when they don’t usually succeed early in the game?

Even with all the distractions and moments of concern, Norvell still found the day to be a success — reflective of the fact that it was a singular practice (albeit an elevated one) during long spring, one that aims to raise the floor of the team as the countdown to Ireland kicks into full gear.

“From the scrimmage today, I thought we got some good work, some situations that showed up. Good plays, explosive plays on both sides…I thought today was a good day.”

The defense sure looks the part, and the pass rush on display suggests this group could exceed last year’s performance. The secondary put the clamps on the receiving core, and the linebackers have become the most improved unit throughout the spring. Nothing from the Showcase changed my feelings about Adam Fuller’s unit; they are ahead of the offense at the end of spring camp.

Whether Norvell will land an impact transfer to spark the unit or need more time remains to be seen, but they left a lot on the table outside of some explosive runs.

Three thoughts from Florida State’s Spring Showcase

First thought: Mike Norvell, A.K.A portal king

Besides the quarterback, the three most impactful players today may have been first-year transfers. Malik Benson, Marvin Jones Jr., and Roydell Williams each carried the load and received more run than I expected. Starting on the defensive side, does MJJ not already look like an All-ACC DE? He single-handily blew up an early series drive for FSU with a smashing run stuff on first down, a dominant pass rush on second, and a PBU on third. I wrote down that he was the mid-spring MVP of the defense a couple of weeks ago, and he showed why. After the game, Mike Norvell agreed with my assessment as he discussed his legacy player.

I think he has probably had some of the best progressions throughout spring practice.”

Malik Benson is a teammate of Marvin Jones Jr.’s who has progressed just as much throughout spring. Although he did not finish the day, going down with what looks to be a lower-body injury, he exemplified why he is WR1 to end camp. He made the catch of the day, as he caught a back-shoulder fade from DJ Uiagalelei when the offense needed someone to make a play on third down. Benson seemed to be the only threat downfield or a pass catcher that could create any separation. Assuming he returns to full health, whether or not Malik Benson has enough offensive skill to be a WR1 in a championship offense remains to be seen. But, he is a dependable, consistent presence on and off the field, and Florida State needs more of those, not less.

Benson’s Alabama teammate Roydell Williams flashed in the run game as FSU continued to ease Lawrance Toafili back this off-season. The transfer RB took a slow mesh from DJ Uiagalelei, hit the hole hard and finished in the end zone for a 30-yard TD run early on in the scrimmage. The coaching staff let the players hit harder than they had all of spring, so Williams brought the boom with his physical frame as he racked up tough yards during his runs. The 1-2 combination of Toafili and Williams will need to carry the offense early in the season to get DJ Uiagalelei comfortable in the pocket.

 

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