TheOsceola - Florida State football practice report: 'Noles prepare for first scrimmage
{{ timeAgo('2022-08-05 13:02:00 -0500') }} football Edit

Florida State football practice report: 'Noles prepare for first scrimmage
Johnny Wilson had one of his best days on Friday. (Ross Obley)

The Florida State football team had a well-earned lighter work day Friday.

After a pair of consecutive practices in full pads and before the first preseason scrimmage Saturday evening, the Seminoles took to the practice fields for a padless practice, which was a bit shorter than the usual 2.5 or so hours.

Despite a lighter workload, however, FSU coach Mike Norvell wanted to see the same intensity he’s been generally happy with through the first seven practices of fall camp.

Assessing how things went after practice, Norvell seemed to indicate the results were mixed on that front.

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“I thought there were some really good moments, I thought there were some moments where we saw a little bit of a lull in the practice,” Norvell said. “Human nature wants you to be comfortable. The mind will always tell you that you’re hot, you’re tired, you’re sore, all of it.

“You take pads off today, naturally you want to take it down a notch. We’ve got to be able to push with the mentality of I’m giving everything I have, being under control and not being as physical on a day you don’t have shoulder pads. You’ve got to be able to still get that quality of work.”

In line with this, Norvell was walking around and encouraging his players during one of the water breaks, telling them, “You make the choice.”

Even though the practice was shortened and without pads, there was still plenty of 11-on-11 work to observe.

It began with a two-minute drill early in practice and concluded with a pair of 11-on-11 portions outside later in the practice.

It was probably Johnny Wilson’s best day of the preseason so far. He began with a fourth-down conversion catch to keep the two-minute drill alive and then moved the ball deeper into opposing territory with another big catch over the middle on the ensuing first down.

However, the drive stalled out when Jarrett Jackson put the offense behind the chains with a first-down sack and Jordan Travis’ jump ball pass into a crowd on fourth down as time expired fell incomplete in the end zone.

That was just the start of Wilson’s day, though, as he had a number of additional catches outside, proving himself to be a target worthy of frequent throws his way. He’s been catching the ball at a much higher rate this fall compared to the spring and that’s encouraging for what he could be able to provide this season. An improved catching ability paired with a frame unlike anyone else in FSU’s wide receiver room could be quite the combination for Wilson.

It helped Wilson’s cause that this was a well-rounded day for the FSU quarterbacks. There weren’t a ton of deep shots – although Tate Rodemaker did throw a stellar one that Kentron Poitier caught in double coverage – but each of the three scholarship quarterbacks did well to take what the defense was giving them, completing their screens and intermediate passes.

Travis, in particular, stood out on Thursday, drawing praise from Norvell for how “he’s taken his game to a new level.” He completed his first seven passes of the outdoor 11-on-11 period, relying on a number of receivers and spreading the ball all around the field to find success.

True freshman running back Rodney Hill continues to flash. His impressive acceleration was evident Friday when he hit top speed quickly after catching a screen pass from Rodemaker. He also had a play later in the practice where a big hit from Travis Jay right as he caught the ball jarred it loose, but he maintained his concentration and secured the ball again for a catch.

Veteran wideout Keyshawn Helton stacked another solid day as well, catching quite a few passes and making some toe-tapping catches on the sideline.

On the defensive side of the ball, Robert Cooper had a sack early in outdoor 11-on-11 work. He hasn’t been praised as much as some of the other defensive tackles this preseason, somewhat because he’s a known commodity, but he should once again play a critical role.

Cornerback Greedy Vance had one of the more impressive plays of the day when he stayed with a play after losing tight coverage and jarred a ball loose from Mycah Pittman for an unlikely incompletion.

The Seminoles will hold their first preseason scrimmage Saturday night in Doak Campbell Stadium. Although the practice will be closed to the media, Norvell and the three FSU coordinators will have a Zoom availability immediately upon its conclusion.

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