Florida state

FSU’s Mike Norvell encouraged by first pre-season scrimmage

Florida State coach Mike Norvell was encouraged by what he saw from his team after the Seminoles staged their first football scrimmage of the preseason on Saturday night.

Even though bad weather forced a move from Doak Campbell Stadium to the indoor training center, FSU coaches were pleased with how the team responded after being tested in situations of game with full pads.

“We still have a lot to clean up with the first scrum, but it was good, especially for some of these newcomers,” Norvell said. “To be able to have the opportunity to go out there and show exactly where they are and we have some newcomers who will help this team.”

Injuries forced the Seminoles to lean on some of their younger players, especially on the offensive line.

“We were moving guys around to try and look at different combinations,” Norvell said. “There have been some uncomfortable moments, especially for newcomers or younger people on the O line, but all of this work is there to benefit them.”

“We put some young guys in with some older guys and they did a good job,” offensive line coach Alex Atkins said. “It’s the best way to learn. I was satisfied with the will to go out there and fight and scramble.

While the defense was credited for getting off to a quick start to the day, defensive coordinator Adam Fuller still saw areas of concern in his unit’s performance.

“We missed way too many tackles,” Fuller said. “We have accomplished a lot of positive things. We hit the rep count for everyone we wanted to hit the rep count for, but our tackle needs to improve.

One player who drew praise from coaches for his performance in the scrimmage was linebacker Tatum Bethune. The transfer of UCF graduates was a welcome addition to a unit that is one of the most complete on the team.

“His physicality these days of scrimmages definitely showed,” Fuller said. “He is mature, intelligent, has good acceleration and a good command of things. I love when he asks questions because he will ask very direct questions. You give him a word and you give him something he can relate to and he has it.

The defensive end remains a position of interest this preseason as the Seminoles look to identify a replacement for Jermaine Johnson II and Keir Thomas. Coaches rotated up to nine players throughout the scrimmage, including Derrick McLendon II, Jared Verse, Dennis Briggs Jr., Patrick Payton and Leonard Warner III.

“I tried to make it look like a game from a defensive line perspective,” special teams coordinator and defensive ends coach John Papuchis said. “We had a first group, a second group, the third group, but as the series went on and the workouts developed, I had in mind what I wanted the final number of reps to be.”

The scrimmage also gave coaches better insight into the quarterback position, where Jordan Travis remains locked in as a starter. Meanwhile, the battle between redshirt sophomore Tate Rodemaker and real freshman AJ Duffy continues to unfold.

“Jordan had a really good day. He created a few plays, got the ball back on the field and made the attack move the chain,” said Atkins, who takes over as offensive coordinator. “Tate has improved in his decision-making. AJ had a bit of stress early on and had to overcome adversity, but he responded and eventually you saw that smile that AJ likes to show.

Norvell added: “Although it [Duffy] didn’t start well today, he responded and had a few big shots. You saw him calm down during the scrum and that’s what I wanted to see.

This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Matt Murschel at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @osmattmurschel.