For the past two practices, the Florida State offense has held its own against the Florida State defense.
On Sunday morning, the FSU defense mostly held the attack down with a vice grip.
The Seminoles defensive backs locked receivers in every part of practice — 1-on-1, 7-on-7, 11-on-11 — and the linebackers and defensive line won most battles up front as well.
The result was a dominating effort and some kind words from FSU head coach Mike Norvell afterwards.
“I really liked the energy of the defense,” he said. “I thought the offense (last) practice did some really good things, competitive plays. I thought there was a really good response from the defense today. I see guys stealing. I like what i see up front, this unity forcing in the front-seven.
“And I think the guys at the back competed really well.”
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Norvell said there were some “good times” offensively on Sunday, but very little came in the passing game. Malik McClain had a nice hold down the middle for a 15-yard gain on a pass from Jordan Travis, and Kentron Poitier had a 30-yard catch off freshman cornerback Azareye’h Thomas, but other than that, receivers did very little overall.
Meanwhile, Thomas continues to stand out.
The four-star rookie was one of the most revealing performers of the spring, and he continued it through fall camp.
On Sunday, he had an interception on a through attempt to Josh Burrell in one-on-one. He forced a fumble at 7-on-7. And then he had a pick-six at 11-on-11, where it looked like he came off the receiver he was covering to get past a pass near the sideline and run unchallenged into the end zone.
Thomas later gave up the long pass to Poitier – he was running stepping with the receiver but the ball was under thrown and Poitier made the adjustment to come back and catch it – but Thomas has already performed well enough for that seems obvious. he’ll get plenty of play time as a real freshman.
“Coming in, you knew the ability he has as a playmaker,” Norvell said. “It’s a very fluid movement. He’s explosive. He has great ball skills. He finds a way, he finds a talent to get into a great position. And he had a few of those today that I love what I see.
“I see those positive steps. And he’s playing with a lot of confidence for a young player. Anyone can have a good attitude when they’re going well, but when you’re beaten on a play – and he’s had a few of those too – and just how he’s able to move on to the next play. It’s a learned skill for some guys.
Not for Thomas apparently, who according to Norvell has shown a remarkable ability to weed out not-so-good plays and then make great ones.
All FSU players had more opportunities to do so on Sunday as Florida State, for perhaps the first time since Norvell took over, used both practice grounds simultaneously for a few periods. of 11 against 11 to ensure that everyone (first teams, second teams and third teams) got valuable reps.
“What I love is the quality of reps we get,” Norvell said. “And there are still challenges when you have newcomers and you break them up…but I want those guys to get reps. And the quality of the reps is what makes it very beneficial.
“I think we have great competition in this young group. And some guys just need (work). I mean, you look at certain positions and we roll with pretty good depth. Just to make sure those guys get the quality reps they need.”
It looked like Norvell would continue to use the two-field plan for the foreseeable future.
He also said that after another practice with shoulder pads on Monday, the team will be in full shoulder pads starting Tuesday morning.
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