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Florida State football quarterbacks hungry to prove themselves during preseason camp

Wayne McGahee III
Washington County News

How much can the Florida State quarterbacks eat?

That's what FSU coach Mike Norvell and offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham have asked the four quarterbacks competing for the starting job this off-season. 

"We’ve taken what we’ve done over a multiple-year span at Memphis, elaborating what we do offensively. We took all of those pieces and put it on them from Day 1," Dillingham said.

"All of those things that we built to with our quarterbacks at Memphis, we said, ‘Hey, this is on your plate. How much can you eat?’ And I think they’ve done a phenomenal job of taking that information in and then applying it on the field. Now do we still have a lot of work to do? Oh, yeah. But I do think that those guys are passionately trying to improve. Their mindset is, ‘Get better every day.’

"They asked me afterwards, ‘Can I come up and watch it when you grade it?’ I’m like, ‘We have a meeting after.’ They want to watch it when I’m grading it. They just have that mindset that they’re hungry. They’re hungry to be the best."

Neither Norvell nor Dillingham got into specifics for how redshirt junior James Blackman, redshirt sophomore Jordan Travis, and true freshmen Chubba Purdy and Tate Rodemaker did during the Seminoles' first scrimmage of the off-season Saturday night.

Both acknowledged that there were some good things and bad things that came from the group, but the overall performance by the unit earned praise from their coaches.

"I thought they did a good job. Obviously things were moving faster tonight, a lot of different situations, with constant transition of drives," Norvell said. 

"A lot of times a difficult thing is to get into a rhythm when you’re rotating multiple guys. But I thought they did a really nice job. I thought there were some things we were probably a little quick on and thought we rushed some things in situations. We need to continue to focus on trusting what we see, allowing our scheme to make us right. But definitely some good plays, some explosive plays throughout the scrimmage."

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Norvell clearly isn't afraid to put his quarterbacks under pressure, and that includes pressure on the field. 

Norvell made the freshmen quarterbacks live for contact during the scrimmage, while Blackman and Travis were not.

"I’ve always had the standard of let the freshmen, the young guys, they go live," Norvell said. 

"This is their first time in college. We try to be smart with the whistle on things, but I’ve always had that philosophical approach. The older guys, I’ve seen. James has played in a good amount of contact in his career, and you look at Jordan and what he’s been able to do. Those guys have played in games so not so much for that."

Blackman is the most experienced quarterback of the bunch with 23 starts over the last three seasons. Travis played some as a true freshman at Louisville and then played in the final four games of the season for FSU in 2019.

Rodemaker and Purdy are true freshmen, but Rodemaker was an early enrollee and was able to go through FSU's strength and conditioning program. Purdy arrived at FSU at the end of May and is going through his first week of practice.

Blackman continues to lead the way for the quarterbacks during preseason camp, but the guys behind him continue to push.

It's going to come down to which player can be the most consistent and lead the offense while avoiding plays that Dillingham described as showing up on the "Not Top 10" on ESPN.

Finding that consistency will be the key to winning the starting job and leading Norvell's offense, which has proven results as one of the best in college football.

"We have a lot of things to be able to learn from, but what we can’t do is allow a bad play to become a terrible play by a poor decision," Norvell said. 

"And that’s something we’re continuing to stress, will continue to emphasize. As we get more situations like tonight, I think the guys’ confidence in what they’re being asked to do and how they need to do it will continue to grow. I thought there were some definite bright spots and lots of things to work on."

Reach Wayne McGahee III at wmcgahee@tallahassee.com or follow him on Twitter @WayneMcGaheeIII

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