TALLAHASSEE — Mike Norvell’s Florida State debut started late because of a weather delay and is on pause, again, because of lightning.
The Seminoles' game against Georgia Tech started a half hour later (at 4 p.m.) and stalled with 8:05 left in the first quarter because of a storm. As of 5 p.m., skies were still pretty dark. The game is expected to resume at 5:35.
Even so, the first part of the first quarter gave a good glimpse into what FSU might look like under Norvell.
His commitment to special teams? His kickoff coverage included a handful of starters and smothered Georgia Tech at the 10 on the opening kickoff.
A focus on turnovers through Mission: Takeaway? Standout defensive back Asante Samuel ended the Yellow Jackets' first drive with a third-down interception he returned 38 yards.
An offense built for playmakers? Every snap on FSU’s opening drive gained at least 3 yards. Beyond that, Norvell moved his players around, just as he did at Memphis. Running back La’Damian Webb lined up outside to the right, then ran left for a jet sweep. Receiver Keyshawn Helton started wide left, went in motion right before the snap and slipped through coverage for a 3-yard touchdown catch.
All in the first 6:55 — before the latest round of lightning strikes.
Even the rain delay itself showed some of how Norvell operates as a head coach. Consider what offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham said in the days leading up to kickoff.
“We’ve talked about rain delays, and what our operation is on a rain delay, and how they’ve changed the rules,” Dillingham said. "And now with less than a certain amount of time in the first half, it now is going to take over halftime, so you’re not going to get a halftime. We’ve discussed that.
“I don’t know how many teams in the country have discussed the new rain delay rule. And that’s something that Coach Norvell — no little detail is going to go past him. And all that stuff is why he’s the head coach he is.”
The atmosphere felt like a spring game because of the limited attendance (about 19,000 allowed) thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Signs outside the stadium reminded fans to stay six feet apart and wear face coverings.