Dec 29, 2022

Florida State, Oklahoma Feeling Relaxed And Ready For Cheez-It Bowl Tilt

By Michaelea Neal
Florida Citrus Sports

Expect some fireworks at the 2022 Cheez-It Bowl on Thursday. The head coaches do.

Florida State head coach Mike Norvell and Oklahoma head coach Brent Venables spoke to the media on Wednesday about the challenges they’ll face in the O-town showdown. Both teams are explosive and have talent at multiple positions capable of big plays.

Norvell complimented the growth of the Sooners under Venables during his first year. The addition of former UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel, who Norvell called a great playmaker, presents a puzzle for the Seminoles.

“It’s going to be a great challenge for our defense,” Norvell said. “Being able to try to make him uncomfortable, to be able to try to get him off-rhythm, but even in that, some of the best plays that show up are when he’s in those situations.”

Venables spoke of the balance within the Florida State team and the momentum the Seminoles are riding in the back half of the season. Venables noted their ability to run the football — especially running back Trey Benson, who runs with power, speed, vision, and patience. Venables calls Florida State’s offensive line the most complete and explosive unit his team has seen all year.

“They play with great cohesion, they make very few mistakes, they do a great job of identifying what’s in front of them and what they want to do from a targeting standpoint,” Venables said.

Although Oklahoma is 6-6 on the season, game preparation for the Sooners has been the same as if the group was 11-1. The team sees the game as a chance to build for the long haul and play to its usual standard. Oklahoma has several young players taking the field with a chance to build momentum for the future.

“For us to try to build momentum and try to build this team the right way, this is another step and another opportunity in doing so,” Venables said.

Many Florida State players with decisions about their future were adamant about playing in this game. Norvell is excited about the physical and emotional investment the players made this season and said they are eager to take the field together one last time with an opportunity to win a tenth game.

“I’m proud of them for making that choice,” Norvell said of the limited opt-outs on his roster. “They want to finish this season as good as we possibly can, and it’s great that they are going to be able to do it together.”

Norvell said he is proud of how his players have prepared and the things they have done throughout the season to improve. He also noted that the opportunity to have this experience in their home state makes this a special time for the Seminoles.

“This will be a week that our guys will remember forever,” Norvell said. “It is one of the benefits of playing in a bowl game — you get one more chance to be together for this team, this group.”

Venables seconded Norvell about the positive experience of playing in a bowl game. The opportunity to take a break from practice and enjoy the experience has been a highlight as the Sooners prepare for competition.

“I am proud of how we have handled our business and the opportunity again to briefly give back to the community and keep the main thing and have the right perspective of what this thing is all about,” Venables said.

The Seminoles and Sooners have taken advantage of all the events the Cheez-It Bowl offers but are focused on the game Thursday night.

Both coaches are excited, but both are prepared for some big plays.

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