Defense bounces back during FSU Football scrimmage on Saturday

Statistics were not released from the Florida State football team’s first spring scrimmage Saturday morning, but by all accounts, the Seminoles’ defense responded nicely from a tough day at practice on Thursday.

Quarterbacks Jordan Travis and Tate Rodemaker combined to throw seven touchdown passes during the team portions of Thursday’s practice, but the group led by co-defensive coordinators Adam Fuller and Randy Shannon made a statement of its own during the closed scrimmage inside Doak Campbell Stadium.

“I saw a really good response with the defense,” Seminoles head coach Mike Norvell said. “You know, Thursday was kind of one of those days where everything was clicking for the offense. And I thought those guys came back and really responded well.”

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Florida State's defense rebounded in Saturday's scrimmage after a tough outing in Thursday's practice.

Florida State’s defense rebounded in Saturday’s scrimmage after a tough outing in Thursday’s practice. (Gene Williams/Warchant)

One of the Florida State position groups that was the most maligned last season — and in recent years in general — was linebacker. But the Seminoles’ coaches have been encouraged by what they’ve seen this spring.

Kalen DeLoach, DJ Lundy and Amari Gainer all return from last year’s unit, and all played a high number of snaps in 2021. Tatum Bethune transferred in from Central Florida, where he led the Knights in tackles. And that position was mentioned first when Norvell talked about what he liked from his defense on Saturday.

“We created some TFLs,” Norvell said. “The ‘backers were flying around, being aggressive. The defensive front, we tried to balance the workload there. We got some guys up front (Fabien Lovett, Robert Cooper, Dennis Briggs) that have played a lot of ball … so we really tried to let those younger guys establish themselves.

“And I really like the way our linebacking group is coming along.”

According to co-defensive coordinator Adam Fuller’s Twitter feed, there were two takeaways by the Florida State defense on Saturday: Safety Akeem Dent recorded an interception, and freshman defensive lineman Dante Anderson forced a fumble.

While Fuller wasn’t necessarily satisfied with what he saw in the scrimmage, it was obviously a much different performance than the one he witnessed in the previous practice.

“Listen,” he said. “Thursday, there were some throws and catches that were tremendous.”

Fuller said he doesn’t get too reactionary after a day like that because he knows there will be up-and-down days in sports. And just like he didn’t overreact on Thursday when his defense gave up some big plays and touchdowns, he didn’t overreact on Saturday when those same players won several battles.

“The kids believe in what we’re doing right now,” Fuller said. “It’s not always going to be perfect, but I like where we’ve come. You know, I saw (Patrick) Payton win a quick third-down one-on-one pass rush. I saw Derrick McLendon win a one-on -one pass rush.

“Offense wants to get guys in one-on-ones. So does defense. And then it comes down to technique, finish, effort, all those things.”

On Thursday, the offense seemed to win most of those battles — especially out wide. On Saturday, the defense certainly won its share.

But offensive coordinator Alex Atkins said he liked the way his side of the ball settled down and started making plays as the scrimmage went on.

“They got after us pretty good there early,” Atkins said. “What you like is the composure. Nobody got down. Everybody stayed focused, locked in. And once they settled, you started to kind of see some drives and some big plays started to hit. So that’s always good to see is the response. “

That kind of action and response is exactly what Norvell is hoping to see every time out.

“We had some good ebbs and flows of what you want to see competitively,” Norvell said. “The offense was able to make some plays later. Good balance of run and pass. Trying to get a good mix.

“But also throwing them into some very specific and particular situations. I really like where we are after seven days of practice. I think we’re going to go back and watch the film and really see where guys are without coaches on the field, with everybody staying back and having to play out the situations. … All in all, there were some really good plays and some great film to learn from.”

The Seminoles return to the practice field on Tuesday afternoon.

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