FSU football team defense ‘dominates’ in second spring scrimmage

For most of this week of spring training, the Florida State football team’s defense seemed to get the most out of the offense.

Then on Saturday, in the second scrum of the spring, that side of the ball went up again, according to head coach Mike Norvell.

“I thought the first defense was outstanding today,” Norvell said afterwards. “Truly dominant performance.”

The starting defense forced three turnovers and veteran safety Akeem Dent was the star of the scrum, recording two interceptions.

And while that’s exciting news for the Seminoles high school, it also means the starting quarterback — redshirt junior Jordan Travis — also threw two interceptions. And overall, the first-team attack was seemingly dominated by their counterparts on the other side.

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Florida State safety Akeem Dent, shown closing in on running back Lawrance Toafili, had two interceptions in Saturday’s scrimmage. (Gene Williams)

Norvell said Travis and the first-team offense put together solid practices, but one mistake, missed mission or bad pitch would end the practice.

“He had some games today that weren’t his best,” Norvell said.

But the third-year head coach also noted that until Saturday he couldn’t recall a turnover by the FSU first team all spring. Travis and Company had done a very good job, he said, of keeping the ball and not giving it away.

On Saturday, however, Dent made sure to go for it. Twice.

“Those were forced turnovers,” offensive coordinator Alex Atkins said. “The defense did a good job of getting the ball back.”

Defensive coordinator Adam Fuller said Dent, who started his career as a cornerback, is becoming more comfortable with safety. Not only does he play better, he communicates better with his teammates before the snap.

Dent also had an interception in Thursday’s practice on a deflection off fellow safety Jammie Robinson.

“That’s what a safety does,” Fuller said. “He straddles things. I know on the last one Jordan saw one-on-ones. Offenses take advantage of one-on-ones they think they have an advantage on. Post safeties straddle things and will do games. It was a great game. Good to see.

“And then we had another takeaway there with a forced fumble, and I think Derrick McLendon picked it up.”

As for the overall performance of the first-team defence, Fuller said it was a great day but he was not about to call his unit ‘dominant’ like Norvell did. .

“It was a good, solid day,” he said. “Look, the quarterback had a green jersey. So there’s a lot of whistles saying we got it. Nobody really knows. But, I think our execution is pretty good. We’ve had a few times where we weren’t totally on the same page, but people were able to play off each other and get it right.

“So overall I think they’re doing what we want them to do, and they’re doing it with a lot of energy. So that’s important to me.”

While the first team attack struggled on Saturday, it looks like the second team attack had a very good afternoon against the FSU reserve defenders.

Norvell mentioned quarterback AJ Duffy hitting Kentron Poitier on a big passing play coming off the goal line as one of the highlights of the scrimmage. He said it was a big moment for Duffy, who recovered well from a less than stellar practice on Thursday.

Norvell also said transfer receivers Mycah Pittman and Johnny Wilson had strong performances and transfer running back Trey Benson had a long touchdown run.

Last but not least, Norvell once again mentioned how impressed he was with quarterback Tate Rodemaker this spring. While Travis is still firmly entrenched as a starter, Norvell is excited about what the third-year quarterback has done so far.

And it looks like his good game continued on Saturday.

“It does what I expected it to do,” Norvell said of Rodemaker. “I knew it was going to be a great spring for him. The confidence, the execution. It’s not a finished product… but to see how he grows, makes great plays with his arm, makes great plays with his feet. I’m impressed.”

The Seminoles return to the training ground Tuesday at 4 p.m.

The annual Garnet and Gold game will take place next Saturday inside Doak Campbell Stadium.

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