Practice at UNF a welcome road trip for Florida State football team

Florida State football players go through a drill on Thursday morning on a field at UNF. (Justin Barney, News4Jax)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A trip out of Tallahassee is just what Mike Norvell wanted.

The Florida State football coach wanted his players to get out of their normal routine and be challenged by breaking the comfort zone.

The Seminoles practiced at UNF on Thursday morning, part of two days of work away from Tallahassee. Florida State will practice again Friday morning at UNF before returning to campus for a scrimmage on Saturday night. Practices are closed to the public.

For Norvell and the rebuilding Seminoles, it’s another chance to bond and break the monotony of a typical day in Tallahassee.

“I think it’s great, you know, an opportunity to come somewhere where you have no control of the environment, no control over the weather no control over anything that’s around us,” he said. “You’re sleeping in a different bed. It’s a unique opportunity. We’re going to have to do the same thing as we go and play on the road this year, but it prepares for what’s ahead.”

Ahead is uncertainty.

How do the Seminoles rebound from a rough, coronavirus-impaired 2020 season? Florida State went 3-6 in Norvell’s first year.

Florida State hasn’t decided on a starting quarterback yet, with returning starter Jordan Travis and UCF transfer McKenzie Milton vying to lead the Seminoles.

Milton is trying to return after a catastrophic knee injury in 2018. He ran the scout team at UCF last year but transferred to Florida State to finish up his career.

“I’m always just pushing myself. I had fun out there, scout team last year and we’ve been competing since spring ball so this is nothing new,” Milton said. “Me, I just try to be the best version of myself and it’s the same for Jordan. You know, we push each other. And you know, at the end of day, whoever gets the nod, you know that first snap, we’re going to support each other and roll with it.”

For the Seminoles program as a whole, it’s an emotional and hectic week.

Iconic former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden died last Sunday morning after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. He will be remembered in Tallahassee on Friday and Saturday. Squeeze in a quick road trip for the football team and it’s a busy stretch.

“Every day we’re just trying to go out and be the best that we can. Represent this program, represent those that have come before us. Obviously it’s an emotional week with Coach Bowden’s passing, but you know, it is also an opportunity to celebrate his life and who he who he was and you’re the legacy that he left.”

In town, the Seminoles had quite the spirited practice. Norvell said that Florida State brought the intensity to Jacksonville, but was disappointed that it wasn’t more reined in the day before the team puts full pads on. It was a bit chippier than Norvell wanted to see. And he let the players know it.

“It’s different for sure. It’s different for everybody. Every year we go somewhere different, so it is good,” Travis said. “I would say it’s a good change. A little bit of adversity. Kind of like a game, we travel up to away games, we got to be able to perform in a different location that we’re not used to. So, we’re trying to push and that’s all it is.”

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.