TALLAHASSEE – The play will undoubtedly be used as a teaching moment for other players during Florida State’s next film session.
Jamie Robinson flew across the field, controlled as he squared up Ontario Wilson making his way to the end-zone. Wilson seemingly had a clear path to score during red-zone drills, but Robinson’s speed and effort placed the safety in a spot to knock Wilson out of bounds and keep the drive alive.
That hustle…that’s what Mike Norvell is looking for from every player on every snap. Even though it was a successful play for the offense, the coach went out of his way to find Robinson and reward the effort with a pat on the helmet. Norvell later brought the sequence up as a “teaching moment” for other players.
Robinson, per Norvell, missed a little time at the beginning of camp. Having him back and totally healthy adds an extra element of speed on defense. The preseason All-ACC selection made his presence felt in his first padded practice of preseason camp, with his explosiveness in space standing out. Not only did Robinson make the hustle play, but he also made a difficult stop on shifty RB Lawrence Toafili in space during team drills as he shot downhill and covered ground while remaining under control.
Here are some other observations and takeaways from Thursday’s practice, Day 7 of camp…
**FSU had an off-day on Wednesday after a pretty intense stretch of practices. Norvell said he was pleased with the film day and likes where the team is at from an installation standpoint.
The return to work on Thursday led to another physical, high-energy day. Players are entering the point in camp where they’re getting a little extra chippy.
**This was the first day of camp in which snapping was an issue for large chunks at a time for the offense. Norvell noted after practice that a few linemen went down and that forced FSU to get into its depth at a few positions. He said he didn’t think the injuries were “overly serious.”
**There was a nice back-and-forth between the offense and defense in team tempo drills at the start of practice. The defense got off to a strong start, providing little operating room for Jordan Travis and the offense…including a sack by EDGE Derrick McLendon.
McLendon was super active on the day with multiple pressures/sacks in team drills.
Travis then responded, however, with a beautiful toss over the middle of the field to TE Wyatt Rector. The pass required touch/precision to get it through traffic, and it was also an athletic play by Rector to get downfield and keep the drive going. WR Johnny Wilson also had a first-down catch to cross midfield.
Yet the defense held as the offense couldn’t get in an adventitious field-goal situation for Ryan Fitzgerald as he missed from about 55 yards. He had enough leg on the kick, but was wide left.
**WR Johnny Wilson got involved early, working different parts of the field to show various aspects of his game. There’s a general suddenness to him that’s rare for a player of his size.
Wilson also had a phenomenal catch downfield and near the sideline in perimeter drills, snagging the ball with one hand while twisting in the air. Good throw by Travis to get the ball to where only his receiver could get it.
**WR Micah Pittman had his best day of the preseason, especially working in red-zone drills. The transfer receiver found different ways to score and get open, and made a few diving catches on safe throws from Travis.
Pittman had a rough day or two early in camp, but has been ascending…and put it all together on Thursday for a thoroughly complete practice.
**WR Darion Williamson snuck by CB Sam McCall for a long touchdown in perimeter drills, with walk-on QB Gino English delivering a nice deep ball.
**LB Amari Gainer showed good burst getting to the perimeter during the perimeter drills. He’s had a solid camp, and was good on Thursday with a few impact plays in the backfield.
**OT Julian Armella gave a strong shove to fellow freshman Dante Anderson in run-fit drills, moving him about five yards off Anderson’s intended mark.
Armella received praise from DT Fabien Lovett after practice for his strength and overall attitude as a rookie.
There are some growing pains, however, for Armella (expected for a rookie being thrown into significant action). DE Jared Verse, who was bested by Armella on Day 6 during a tackling drill, exhibited exceptional burst and power off the snap in 1 vs. 1 pass-rush drills and pushed Armella onto his backside. The two were jawing throughout practice…Armella doesn’t back down, which seems super encouraging. But there will be times in which he’s outmatched against a more polished player.
**Verse was very active throughout the day.
**OT Jazston Turnetine showed off his strength as he lost balanced, re-gained traction and guided a defensive end (couldn’t tell if it was Patrick Payton or Byron Turner) with one arm.
Turnetine and Payton had some good back-and-forth play in 1 vs. 1s.
*S Sidney Williams had an interception in 1 vs. 1s as he ducked under TE Markeston Douglas to make a good play on the ball.
** ST coordinator John Papuchis was especially fiery today. Special teams had a lackluster day on Tuesday, so coach was clearly pushing the group a little extra.
**LB Kalen DeLoach was productive in inside run drills, and also had a nice stop on Travis before the QB got going…he’s managed to corral Travis a couple times this camp (no easy feat).
**Speaking of Travis, there was a play he broke into the open field and was legitimately laughing as defenders tried to catch him before he ran out-of-bounds.
**DT Daniel Lyons flashed a few times on the day.
**At QB, Travis was very good for large stretches…especially in the red-zone as he made quick decisions and was accurate in tight windows. This included some low throws to Pittman and an up-top shot to Wilson.
**QB AJ Duffy continues to build his confidence. He’s showing some aggressiveness in taking shots downfield – he doesn’t always hit them, but the arm talent is evident – and was also sharp in red-zone drills during 7 vs. 7s.
**It was difficult going for all QBs on the day in team drills with the poor snapping.
**WR Ontario Wilson had a big gain that left an NFL scout scribbling notes. Good ball by Travis, but Wilson’s ability to make a move after the catch turned a nice gain into a huge one.
**CB Azareye’h Thomas made a great play in 1 vs. 1s to hang out with Deuce Spann downfield, stick in his hip pocket, and then timed up the play perfectly to knock the ball down.
**CB Jarrian Jones continues to play well in space and force incompletions in 1 vs. 1s.
**RB Lawrence Toafili put the ball on the ground a few times after catching it cleanly for all of camp.
**DTs Malcolm Ray and Jarrett Jackson were consistently disruptive. Lovett praised the DT depth after practice.
**CB Sam McCall made a nice play on the ball in the back of the end-zone, breaking up a pass by Tate Rodemaker to Center Poitier. Norvell ran over to the freshman corner and shouted “Good job Sam McCall!”
**CB Greedy Vance had a really nice rep squeezing WR Keyshawn Helton away from the ball on an end-zone shot in the red-zone.
**Helton had one of the best plays of the day, moving across the field and laying out for a ball as he slid to remain in-bounds near the sideline. It was a great effort, but also a big-boy throw by Duffy.
**Rodemaker had a beautiful deep shot to Poitier over the defense, but the receiver couldn’t haul it in.
**RB Rodney Hill showed nice patience letting some blocks open up before bursting into the open field. OT Daughtry Richardson made a key block to spring him free.
**iOL D’Mitri Emmanuel and Dylan Gibbons are clearly two of the most polished, strong, and physical linemen on the roster. They’ve been consistently solid this camp.
**FSU returns to practice on Friday morning before a scrimmage on Saturday evening.
**NFL scouts from the Tampa Bay Bucs, Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins, and New York Jets were in attendance (the most scouts we’ve observed at a practice this camp).