That’s the real-life rep!” FSU offense wins day during “explosive” Thursday practice

DJ Uiagalelei put up one of his best days in garnet and gold

He knows that work works, and sometimes, it takes a little bit for it all to come together. Regarding the FSU 2024 offense, they are following their coach’s teachings.

Thursday felt like the best practice for DJ Uiagalelei and the rest of the offensive side of the ball since the beginning of spring — Norvell confirmed this belief by announcing that the “offense were the winners” of the day. Their success started because of the run — learning to execute counter effectively takes time, but the big uglies were getting out in front and clearing car paths for the running backs to burst through. On the day, three different runs went for six as the ground game started giving off the fruits of its labor.

At the same time, the defense struggled. The linebackers picked the wrong gap and overcommitted on numerous occasions. Once the run game started to hit, Norvell masterfully called plays off of it, and the play action led to huge plays through the air. The head man mentioned after practice that there had been some “mistakes” for the defense but did not sound overly concerned.

The biggest news of the day came on the injury front. Norvell told the media that Brock Glenn would be “limited” for the next couple of days due to a non-football-related injury, but the team expects him back before the end of spring.

Quarterback: Without Brock Glenn to compete with for starter reps, DJ Uiagalelei ran with the ones for most of the day and did not disappoint. Coach Norvell mentioned Thursday was one of the transfer QB’s best days as he commanded the offense. He took the check-downs in front of him but did not hesitate to throw the deep ball. The offense’s best play came from a DJ-Malik Benson connection where the WR created space with silky route running on Fentrell Cypress, and Uiagalelei did the rest with a perfectly placed 40-yard touchdown strike. Besides the physical aspect of the Seminole signal caller’s game, his mentality provides such a needed contract to Mike Norvell. As the head coach screams and brings the energy, DJ’s calm demeanor settles everyone around him and helps put the mistakes behind the offense. As Florida State strives to find consistency, being led by a consistent presence should help them find it quickly.

Running back: The massive run plays today were started by the offensive line but finished by the running backs. Freshman RB Kam Davis produced one of the signature runs. He stayed patient as he waited for the blocks to develop and smashed through the hole where no one could catch him. It feels lazy to say, but to see such a physical back dash in the open field made it difficult not to see Trey Benson’s comparisons. Besides Davis, Roydell Williams put together one of his best days of the spring. His one-cut running provides a needed dimension and change of pace to the offense. The Alabama transfer found himself in the open field multiple times today and scored once during 11-on-11 as the offensive line sealed the edge hard, and #24 did the rest.

Pass Catchers: Maybe it is a coincidence that two Alabama transfers played some of their best ball Thursday, but Malik Benson flashed today. His leadership has never wavered, but he needed a day like today. Benson combined fancy footwork with strong hands, making him a threat all afternoon. Besides the long ball from DJ, he ran a nice comeback route against Fentrell Cypress that got him open in the later stages of 11-on-11 work. Besides Benson, Kentron Poitier put together one of his best days of spring, and he became a focal point throughout practice. He impressed with his body control as he had plenty of catches over the middle and in tight windows.

Offensive line: This was the offensive line to be expected under an Alex Atkins-coached group. So far, the physicality and ability of the defensive line have overwhelmed the unit, but today, they provided their first pushback. Florida State ran counter down the defense’s throats, and it continued to pop. FSU ran all types of styles to it, and it felt like one of the offensive coaching staff’s most creative days. Of course, one of the keys to their success is who is playing up front. Darius Washington had been playing off and on for the first part of spring, but he received his most action today. The veteran lineman did not disappoint, as his athleticism and strength sprung most of the G-T counter-run plays. During one-on-ones, he flashed as he dominated his rep against Sione Lolohea, who could barely get his hands on #76. As Florida State starts to get healthy up front, the Swiss Army knife will continue to play a role.

Front seven: When one part of the team does well, another does not. Today, the front seven got pushed around up front, and they paid the price. Many of the issues started with the linebackers, who did not handle playing the counter well. Mike Norvell did call it an impressive practice, but a lot of the time, it came from mental mistakes. At the same time, the defensive front did not muck things up at the line of scrimmage like usual. Even when Adam Fuller dialed up pressure, the front rarely got home or allowed gashing runs to the FSU QBs. After practice, Marvin Jones Jr. did not seem concerned and said the group would watch the film and continue improving daily.

Secondary: The back end struggled without much help in front of them. Fentrell Cypress found himself on the wrong end on a couple of long balls and plays over the middle. In zone coverage, the offense took what the defense gave them and consistently checked the ball down for chunk yards. Ashlynd Barker played as Shyheim Brown’s running mate most of the day, but they did not always seem on the same page. Some of the issues came in the ground game as they did not pick up the right gap, which allowed long runs.

On the positive side, with the news of Greedy Vance leaving in the portal, Earl Little Jr. put together one of his best days. Patrick Surtain and Adam Fuller stayed on him, but he responded well to the hard coaching. He stuck close to Ja’Khi Douglas most of the day and seemed ready to relish being a starter in the slot.

Gideon Canice

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