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Monday Mailbag: winless, cracks in the armor, and where to go from here

There's a lot to unpack this week.

Three weeks into the 2021 season, Florida State has provided us with a lot more questions than answers. The Seminoles have competed with Notre Dame, lost to an FCS team at home, and opened up conference play to the tune of getting blown out by Wake Forest. To say the least, it's been puzzling and there is no certain way of out this situation.

The same issues continue to plague this team. Penalities, coverage breakdowns, offensive inconsistency, turnovers, play-calling, you name it. It was important to see how the 'Noles would respond after the worst loss in school history and they did the opposite of that. At the moment, they've proven that they can't overcome adversity. 

The path to FSU's first win of the season doesn't get any easier in week four with Louisville coming to town. I had this game penciled in as a win during the preseason but I feel a lot less confident right now. The Cardinals went on an offensive explosion last Friday night, led by Malik Cunningham. There's potential for a lot of points to go up on the board this weekend.

Let's reach into the mailbag for this week and answer some questions.

Is it time to move on from Jordan Travis and Milton and start getting Purdy reps? In my opinion, we will never get to a legit 8+ win season until we move on from Travis just because of how injury-prone he is. - Richie Price

McKenzie Milton and Jordan Travis have both been inconsistent thus far. Travis was finally getting into a rhythm on Saturday before being knocked out of the game due to an injury. It's a difficult balance. Obviously, these coaches want to be competitive now and thought they had the experienced options to do it. So far, that hasn't gone very well.

I wouldn't say it's time to move on in favor of younger options like Chubba Purdy and Tate Rodemaker just yet. But if the losing continues, nothing is off of the table.

Who needs the ball more and who needs the ball less on offense for us to be most efficient and score more points? - Brett Brandewie

In my opinion, I think it's time to go youth movement at wide receiver. Malik McClain has all of the makings of a future No. 1 target, put him in the starting lineup, and enhance his development. Darion Williamson has been solid and we've heard good things about Joshua Burrell. For whatever reason, Andrew Parchment and Keyshawn Helton just aren't producing right now.

The running back rotation needs to stop trying to be too cute. It's clear that Treshaun Ward is the most talented player in the room. Give him the bulk of carries, sprinkle in Jashuan Corbin and Lawrance Toafili, and get out of the way. 

When will penalties be addressed and when do we start benching guys that can’t stop committing them? - Wesley Sullivan

Your guess is as good as mine. Florida State has committed 18 penalties over the past two weeks, including a ton that were unforced mental mistakes. Head coach Mike Norvell talked about his disappointment in the repeated penalties during Monday's presser but the fact is, the players aren't going to fix it until they're punished.

To this point, we've seen few significant depth chart changes. Until guys start to lose playing time, they clearly aren't going to take the message seriously.

Would it be fair to say the real problems are in the actual position coaches? - Brandon Jordan

It's hard not to blame both parties at this point. The coaches can't make the players catch passes, tackle, or block but they can do a better job of putting guys in position to make plays. For instance, Jarvis Brownlee, Jarrian Jones, and Jammie Robinson were getting handled in single-man coverage against Wake Forest. Why not switch to a zone and give them some safety help?

Offensively, Ward is carrying you down the field and gets taken out in the red zone. On the next two plays, Corbin is brought down for a loss and Milton gets stuffed on a keeper for a turnover on downs.  It just feels like the staff is thinking too much at certain points when something simple would do the job.

Is Mike going to take over the play-calling going forward? - Chris Sowell

I hope so. Though Norvell didn't directly say it in his press conference, we've heard that Dillingham has been the primary play-caller to this point. It's clearly not working.

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There has to be some type of change, whether it's Norvell taking over fully or at least being more involved.

Why is Norvell not using Burrell or Wren with their speed on the outside? - Justin Hill

I expect we'll see more of true freshman Joshua Burrell moving forward as it seems like FSU is starting to lean towards a youth movement at wide receiver. He's more of a possession guy than a burner but at this point, you just need someone who can catch a ball.

As for Corey Wren, it's just hard to get him involved because the running back room is so deep. Plus, he's not the biggest guy so he has to be used in the right situations.

What’s your opinion on what these recruits are seeing as there are no known decommitments (assuming, as this can change). Are they seeing or do they know something that our current players don’t seem to be grasping or executing? - Michael Carpenter

I've spent the last two weeks reaching out to a ton of Florida State commitments and for now, the majority of them are solid. Could that change? Absolutely.

A lot of the commits see themselves, and their recruiting classes, as the key to turning this program around. They all believe that they're going to come in and help spark the rebuild.

When we lose to Louisville does Jermaine Johnson and other NFL prospects shut it down and start preparing for the draft? - Jothan Vergil

All I can say is that there is always a possibility, especially in this day and age of college football. Nothing is off the table. That said, Jermaine Johnson seems to have really taken to Florida State's culture. In one offseason, he's turned into the leader and best player on the entire defense.

I don't see any reason why he would step away when he's on the path of establishing himself as a high draft selection, regardless of the Seminoles' record.

Now that the 'Noles are 0-3, where do they go from here? - Ashley Armani

That's a good question. The reality is that there's no real certain path. I've said it before but this team is an enigma. You have no clue what you're going to get from week to week.

The most important thing right now is to reestablish confidence and have this time develop some type of identity. 

What’s the best-case realistic scenario for the rest of the season? - Scott Turney

I think the best-case scenario is that Florida State somehow gets into the winning column over the next two weeks against Louisville and Syracuse. If the Seminoles win both, even better. This program definitely does not want to be going into North Carolina next month at 0-5.

Following that, you return home for the only "guaranteed" win of the season against UMass. You absolutely cannot lose at home to Walt Bell. That's all I'll say. There are some other potential wins on the table in Boston College and NC State. The Eagles lost their starting quarterback for the season while the Wolfpack are also dealing with injury issues.

Outside of that, Florida State has to try and remain competitive against Florida, Miami, and Clemson. Sound easy enough?

To wrap this up, your best-case realistic scenario after what we've seen through three weeks is likely 4-8. Though, I wouldn't necessarily call that the likely scenario.