Florida State coach Mike Norvell challenged the Seminoles to give every ounce of effort possible this week during practice ahead of the team’s most formidable test to date.
The coronavirus pandemic has dealt many blows to the FSU football program and the next one hits Saturday when the Seminoles (1-2, 0-2 ACC) play at No. 5 Notre Dame (2-0, 1-0 ACC). Kickoff is set at 7:30 p.m. and the game will air on NBC (WESH-2).
“The choice has to be made every single day: what we’re willing to give and invest for what we want,” Norvell said. “... We’re going to continue to push, continue to get better and continue to work in that positive direction.”
The game was not on FSU’s original 2020 schedule, but ACC COVID-19 adjustments led to the scheduling of Notre Dame as a bonus conference opponent and a matchup expected to heavily test the rebuilding Seminoles.
Norvell and his players said they looked forward to facing the formidable Irish.
“We’re playing a top football team in the country," Norvell said. "There’s no question Notre Dame, they’ve got great experience throughout both sides of the ball. When you look at their offensive and defensive fronts, those are two imposing units. They’ve got some great playmakers surrounding them and so we’ve just got to go out and play our best ball.
"We’ve got to continue to improve, we’ve got continue to focus on our details, our fundamentals, and then we’ve got to be relentless every snap we play. Our best players have to play their best game.“
The first few games of the season have exposed what FSU football lost when spring football practices, on campus offseason workouts and part of preseason camp were eliminated for the Seminoles. Turnovers, penalties and failed third-down conversions have thwarted a rapid-fire offense that doesn’t quite take flight while players think about what they’re supposed to do each play. A talented defense has again been stranded on the field and at times has let frustration get the best of it.
FSU continues to work out the wrinkles, adapting to Norvell’s system on game day while playing a punishing stretch of ACC games.
Notre Dame enters the matchup coming off some of its own coronavirus headaches.
A COVID-19 outbreak involving 39 players — 25 testing positive and 14 quarantined due to contact tracing — prompted the Irish to suspend all team activities from Sept. 22-29 and postpone the game at Wake Forest.
“Nothing has been normal the last couple of weeks,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said ahead of the FSU game.
It’s unclear how many players, including key starters, will be available Saturday. Kelly said the team is doing its part to assure the outbreak is over and the Irish don’t face more COVID-19 setbacks.
“If we are going to continue to play in this environment, then we have to be even more vigilant than we were in the past,” he said.
Florida State has been competitive during brief stretches, scoring an early field goal against Miami before the Hurricanes' quick-strike offense forced the Seminoles' offense into a hole it couldn’t escape.
Norvell is trusting Louisville transfer Jordan Travis, the team’s third-string quarterback entering last week’s win over Jacksonville State, to string those positive plays together and avoid costly turnovers. He will make his first career start with FSU against the Irish.
Travis made a handful of strong rushing plays last season, leaving some fans to question his arm strength. But he came off the bench to go 12-of-17 passing for 210 yards and one score, rallying FSU to a win over Jacksonville State.
His coaches and teammates have said questions about his passing ability were off target.
“He’s a young man that works extremely hard,” Norvell said. “I think he’s respected by everyone on the team. Everybody respects not only the playmaking ability he has ... but how he prepares to do that.”
This article first appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Iliana Limón Romero at email@example.com.
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