Florida State head coach Mike Norvell addressed reporters on Tuesday ahead of Sunday’s season opener against Notre Dame.
The Seminoles and Fighting Irish will take Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium at 7:30 p.m ET. How’d Norvell describe his team’s first opponent of the 2021 season?
“A top-10 national power,” Norvell said. “A team that has been very consistent in a high level of play. Very well-coached.”
The respect is mutual. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly remembers last year’s game against Florida State for the fight the Seminoles showed from start to finish despite the final score of 42-26 in Notre Dame’s favor.
“We’re going to go into an incredible environment in Tallahassee,” Kelly said on Monday. “One where we’ll emotionally have to have our football team in the right place to play in that environment. I would tell you that from our perspective, this is a team we got to see last year and earned a lot of respect for.”
Norvell mentioned going against new Notre Dame defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman while Norvell was at Memphis and Freeman held the same position at Cincinnati. Norvell got the best of Freeman in back-to-back weeks; 34-24 in the regular season finale and 29-24 in the American Athletic Conference Championship Game.
Norvell isn’t taking stock in either of those outcomes in relation to this week’s matchup.
“The personnel is totally different, probably on both sides,” Norvell said. “But great coaches are going to adapt and adjust to the personnel they have. Obviously you’re going to see some of the focus of some of the things he’s implemented in the past at Cincinnati but also playing to the personnel he has at Notre Dame.
“This is a talented group. It definitely has experience sprinkled all throughout the defense. Guys that play hard and play fast. He’s going to bring an attack style mentality. I mentioned on the radio show last week, this is one of the best defensive coordinators in college football. His defenses have always performed very well. It’s going to be a great challenge for our guys not totally knowing what to expect. We’re going to have to adapt and adjust throughout the game.”
Here are Norvell’s other notable comments about Notre Dame.
On Marcus Freeman And Notre Dame’s Defensive Line
“They have great length. They play extremely hard. A physical bunch up front coupled with what coach Freeman has shown to do with different movements up front and the way that he’s able to disguise some of the ways that he’s going to bring pressure whether it’s blitzing linebackers or different run stunts up front.
“He does a great job with his disguises. I’m expecting multiple fronts, to be able to jump in and out of three and four down sets. I think they have really good depth. They have guys that have great experience and have been productive throughout their careers at Notre Dame. This is going to be a great challenge for our guys up front, and it’s going to take a great effort.”
On Notre Dame Graduate Senior Quarterback Jack Coan
“He’s a very talented player, and he’s had great success. You look at the success he had at Wisconsin, he’s played in big games. He’s played in adverse atmospheres being in the Big 10 during his time there. He was out this last season due to injury, but the thing you hear coming out of Notre Dame is how consistent and how accurate and kind of the game manager he is. He’s making guys around him better. He’s a new starter at Notre Dame, but he has a lot of productive collegiate experience. He’s going to do a great job for them. We have to try to make him uncomfortable with what we do and how we attack.”
On Preparing For Coan And The Notre Dame Offense
“We’re going to get our best sense of him as a player, so we will look back at (Coan’s Wisconsin games). That’s the good thing about being in week one — you have more time. We’ve had time throughout the summer to look at those things.
“You also try to put a balance to Notre Dame. Who they are, what they’re about. It’s a very versatile offense in how they attack. When you look at the run game, the passing game, the different ways they’re going to try to move him around. They can do just about all of it. It’s going to be a great challenge. We have looked at all of it in getting the best sense of what to expect.”
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