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Mike Norvell’s FSU delay starts well, until another lightning delay

Believe it or not, the Seminoles and their new coach spent some time recently talking about new rain delay rules. Good thing.
Florida State's opener against Georgia Tech  is under a weather delay because of lightning near Doak Campbell Stadium.
Florida State's opener against Georgia Tech is under a weather delay because of lightning near Doak Campbell Stadium. [ MATT BAKER | Matt Baker | Times ]
Published Sep. 12, 2020

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.

Related: Five things to watch in Mike Norvell’s Florida State debut today

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.

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