The Florida State football team held its 15th of 25 preseason practices Tuesday morning.
This means the Seminoles are 60% of the way through their preseason preparations ahead of their season opener against No. 7 Notre Dame Sept. 5 at Doak Campbell Stadium.
This week marks the end of preseason camp in a traditional sense before game week begins next Monday. But FSU is treating this week as a bit of a head start on the Fighting Irish, getting a jump on preparing for its first opponent.
“Tuesday will start a modified game week,” FSU head coach Mike Norvell said after Sunday’s scrimmage.
“We’ll still get some good on good work as we prepare, but start getting an early introduction into Notre Dame as our guys prepare for what’s ahead. I like where we’re heading.”
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This duality was on display at Tuesday’s practice, the first of five consecutive practices this week. While there was some Notre Dame work — and more may be happening behind the scenes in the film room — the Seminoles got plenty of work pitting the first-team offense against the first-team defense at their first practice of the week.
“It’s exciting. We’re still in fall camp this week so we’re still focused on fall camp, getting better as a team, but we’re starting to implement Notre Dame as well,” FSU wide receiver Joshua Burrell said.
“It’s great getting to get close to the season, playing an opponent, but we’re still in fall camp, we’re still working. We’re just coming in day by day, getting ready to work.”
The Notre Dame game will be quite a challenging opener for the Seminoles. Even though the Fighting Irish are replacing their starting quarterback and four starters off their offensive line, they return plenty from a team that made its second College Football Playoff appearance in three years last season.
The betting line has moved into the Seminoles’ favor since it opened, dropping from Notre Dame being favored by 10 or 10.5 points to 7.5 points as of Tuesday afternoon according to BetOnline.
Norvell knows some preparation for Notre Dame — which beat FSU 42-26 last year in South Bend — will be necessary and is already underway. However, he is also well aware that the path to an FSU upset to kick off the season with a bang also goes through pushing his team and continuing to focus on the Seminoles’ self improvement.
“You come into camp and you want to establish an identity. The identity that we need from this football team is one that’s willing to work…” Norvell said after Saturday’s scrimmage.
“These guys going through 14 practices made it challenging. We want them to be uncomfortable throughout this camp. It’s early mornings, long nights. These guys, they just continue to get up and go and push. We’re not exactly where we need to be, we’ve got to do a great job the next two weeks to help get ourselves there, but we’re taking positive strides.
“We’re still a young team, we’re still an emotional team at times. But being able to control those emotions and go out and play at a high level, at a controlled level with tremendous passion and investment in the work we’re going to do, and how much it means to you. So I’m pleased with where we are two weeks in, but we have a lot of work to do moving forward ahead of Notre Dame.”
Perhaps the biggest bit of work left is determining the starting lineups and how many players the team can get on the field on both sides of the ball against the Fighting Irish.
The most notable of these questions is who emerges from FSU’s quarterback battle, but there are still definitely playing time battles happening across the depth chart. This includes but isn’t limited to running backs, wide receivers, defensive linemen and in the secondary.
While some of these battles may linger into game week, many should be settled this week. Because once Notre Dame prep ramps into high gear, the depth chart, which is expected to be released at the start of game week, will be more set in stone.
“Those depth charts, they’re happening. That was the point (of the second scrimmage) when we break camp going into Tuesday,” FSU defensive coordinator Adam Fuller said.
“There’s gonna be some good on good where we’re gonna mix some people, but when we get going into Notre Dame prep, like when we say (the starters), that’s the group that comes, and (second-team) go in and then when you get some sub-packages, maybe the depth charts change a little bit specifically to the skills, but it gets set.
“I think it needs to be set so guys understand roles and they can understand what they need to be prepared to do.”
Reach Curt Weiler at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @CurtMWeiler.
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