TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Florida State has promoted offensive line coach Alex Atkins to offensive coordinator, head coach Mike Norvell announced Thursday.
“I’m fired up to have Coach Atkins as our offensive coordinator,” Norvell said. “He left an offensive coordinator position to come here, and that experience will be vital for us as we continue to build upon the foundation we have established in our first two seasons. Coach Atkins has displayed tremendous leadership not only with our offensive linemen but with everyone in our program. Our offensive linemen have developed on and off the field through his honest feedback, ability to teach the game and his passion to truly challenge them to reach their full potential, and I’m happy to see his responsibilities grow.”
Atkins, who also served as offensive coordinator at Charlotte in 2019, enters his third season on FSU’s staff in 2022 and will continue coaching the Seminoles’ offensive line. His FSU offensive line has featured 14 different starting combinations in 21 games, but has blocked for 10 games with at least 200 rushing yards, including six in 2021. The group has produced two all-conference performers and two Freshman All-Americans under Atkins.
“I am thankful and excited for this opportunity,” Atkins said. “I understand these opportunities are rare for a person in my position, and I am grateful for the experiences I have had throughout my career that have prepared me for this role. I’m appreciative to Coach Norvell for developing his staff and creating opportunities to grow both professionally and personally. My focus will continue to be on providing an unmatched experience for our players by cultivating relationships in a way that permits open communication while developing them as football players and young men.”
Since Atkins joined the staff for the 2020 season, Florida State’s offense has improved its rushing, Red Zone efficiency and pass protection. The Seminoles’ 2021 offense featured an improvement of 37.1 rushing yards per game from 2019, a jump of 8.0 percentage points in Red Zone conversion rate and 0.69 fewer sacks per game allowed.
His 2021 line was highlighted by honorable mention All-ACC guards Dillan Gibbons and Devontay Love-Taylor. The duo helped lead an offensive line that blocked as FSU converted 32 consecutive Red Zone trips into points, the longest active streak in the nation entering the 2022 season, while leading the ACC and ranking seventh nationally by scoring touchdowns on 73.8 percent of Red Zone trips in 2021.
In his first season with the Seminoles, Atkins led a young group that blocked for a top-20 rushing offense while featuring nine different starters making up six different starting lineups in nine games. Robert Scott, Jr., and Maurice Smith were both recognized among the best freshmen in the country as Scott earned True Freshman All-America honors from 247Sports and Smith was named a Freshman All-American by Rivals.
Florida State averaged 199.9 rushing yards per game, the program’s highest since 2016 and 20th nationally among teams that played at least nine games in 2020, and 5.11 yards per rush, 16th in the nation among teams with at least 350 carries and FSU’s most in a season since 2015. The Seminoles topped 400 yards of total offense in five of the last seven games, including more than 500 yards of total offense twice, and produced FSU’s first game with at least 250 yards rushing and passing since 2016.
In the season finale, a 56-35 win over Duke, Florida State rushed for six touchdowns, the most in the ACC and tied for the seventh-highest single-game total nationally in 2020. That also was only the second time in FSU history the Seminoles rushed for six touchdowns in a conference game. At North Carolina State, Florida State started four freshmen offensive lineman for the first time since 2011. That group blocked as FSU had five successful fourth-down conversions, which was the second-highest single-game total in program history, the most by an ACC program in 2020 and the second-highest total nationally in 2020.