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Florida State Seminoles

Cook chases history leading our Saturday College Primer

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It’s a Saturday of intrigue for the State schools from Syracuse to Baton Rouge and from Orlando to Raleigh and then to Dallas. Noles RB Dalvin Cook has a chance at history, the Gators can clinch the SEC East, and USF can a win get closer to history of their own.

Here’s the Primer:

12:30 p.m. Miami at NC State

As Ari Russell wrote Friday, the Canes will look to continue their modest two game win streak, and attempt to solidify their bowl position against a Wolfpack that has been reeling since narrowly missing a last second field goal that could have upset Clemson. This should be an fairly easy day for the more talented Miami.

1:00 p.m. Florida at LSU

We have well documented that this is the make-up game from Hurricane Matthew threatening the East coast of Florida on October 8th that was supposed to be in Gainesville. We also pointed out that LSU top running back Leonard Fournette would not have played six weeks ago due to an ankle injury, but is now apparently mostly healed and back to his battering ram self. The Gators already had their work cut out for them trying to secure the East Division and a berth in Atlanta before QB Luke Del Rio suffered a shoulder injury in the Arkansas game. It kept him out last week and likely, this week, too. They will be hyped on the Bayou to get another win for interim head coach Ed Orgeron, who is vying for the job full time. They will be rooting hard in Knoxville for LSU, as a Florida loss would put the Vols back in the driver’s seat to win the East themselves.

3:30 p.m. FSU at Syracuse

There will not be outcome drama in this one. Florida State has superior athletes/speed and should blow out the ‘Cuse early. The real drawing card is the history that Seminoles RB Dalvn Cook is sitting on coming in. He will likely break Warrick Dunn’s record and go over the 4,000 career yards in the first half. Look for him to run as wild as head coach Jimbo Fisher wants to let him over the course of this one. Cook and the Noles need the tune-up for Florida next week and they’re may be a lot of resting of players (depending on how wide the margin) in the second half.

7:00 p.m. USF at SMU

The Bulls come off a wild 49-42 shootout victory at Memphis last week. QB Quinton Flowers became the first American conference player ever with 200 yards rushing and 200 yards passing in the same game. The Bulls prolific offense is not in question. The defense that has been scored on repeatedly down the stretch by Temple, Navy and the Tigers last week, is a huge question. SMU can score some points and did upset Houston at home a few weeks back. The Bulls are two wins away from their first ever 10 win regular season in program history. Look for lots of points in Big D.

And Finally, 8:00 p.m. Tulsa at UCF

Having won three of four, the Golden Knights, who are already bowl eligible, look to win again over a potent Tulsa offense. In addition to exciting freshman QB McKenzie Milton, UCF has been using opportunistic defense to win. Three defensive TD’s against Tulane two weeks ago and a blocked punt for a TD against Cincinnati last week in the two wins. Coach Scott Frost is getting all three phases to click. Tulsa has scored 40 or more points in each of their last 4 games. Veteran gunslinger QB Dane Evans leads Tulsa them with 26 TD passes and RB James Flanders has already rushed for over 1,000 yards and 14 TD’s. This could be a wild one, also.

Look for our Rapid Recaps coming all Saturday.

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Florida State Seminoles

New FSU coach Willie Taggart eager to get practices started Monday

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Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

It’s finally arrived. College football teams have begun to gather and hit the practice field aiming towards the start of the season at the end of this month.

And in Tallahassee, there is renewed optimism and enthusiasm for first year coach Willie Taggart.

We have well documented Taggart’s quick ascent to the Noles top spot, as it started with coaching his alma matter Western Kentucky, then returning USF to a nationally ranked bowl winning program and then, a single season in the Pac 12 at Oregon.

Now, the Noles, who floundered to a 6-6 regular season barely making a bowl game, hope Taggart can lead them back into ACC championship contention and beyond. Even if that’s not realistic for 2018, the belief is that they will be there next season for sure.

Taggart met with the media Sunday afternoon in advance of the Seminoles first practice for Monday and covered many subjects:

One hot topic is the quarterback position battle. That’s where last year’s true freshman starer James Blackman will be challenged by 2016 starter Deondre Francois. Francois was injured and lost for the season in the fourth quarter of FSU’s opening defeat against Alabama last September.

And the Noles have a third option to potentially go to in Bailey Hockman.

“They’re all going to have an opportunity. They all understand that,” Taggart said. “That starts now. … They know they’ve got to separate themselves.”

Taggart also told the media that receiver Nyqwan Murray and defensive tackle Marvin Wilson both with knee issues are not available to start practicing this week.

“Those guys will be limited. You won’t see them the first part of training camp, but I think as we get towards the end in training camp, you’ll see those guys out there practicing with us.”

Finally, in another example of Taggart understanding and embracing FSU’s tradition, he is bringing back for long time defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews.

Andrews who coached numerous defensive All Americans in Tallahassee from 1984 through 2009, including two National Championship seasons, is beloved by a great many of the FSU alumni and fans.

Taggart glowed Sunday,

“It’s great to have someone like that, that’s been here. He’s seen it all and has a lot of knowledge of the game. He has a lot of knowledge of Florida State. I think he’s someone that not only myself, but our entire staff, can learn something from while he’s here.”

The Noles will all be trying to learn something about their new coaches and teammates. And it won’t be a “cream puff” in the opener with Virginia Tech on Labor Day night.

Time to get to work.

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Florida State Seminoles

Report- former FSU now Rams safety Derwin James robbed at gunpoint

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Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Rookies often talk about their “Welcome to the NFL” moment. However, that’s usually reserved for something that happens on the field to remind them that they are playing against the best of the best and that they have to be careful for anything to happen to or for them.

Unfortunately, for former Seminoles star safety Derwin James, who was drafted in the first round by the L.A. Chargers in April, he was given that reminder apparently in a scary scene.

TMZ broke the story exclusively on Monday afternoon that James was robbed at gunpoint in Southern California last month:

According to the Gossip site, here’s the recap:

James, and his uncle were leaving an Italian restaurant on Sunset Blvd. on June 23 when 2 black males allegedly rushed them … demanding their jewelry. According to a warrant we obtained, both of the men had handguns and pointed them at James.

According to the docs, one of the men snatched the chain off James’ neck … and they also took his Rolex.

The thieves fled to a nearby car … and when Derwin tried to give chase in his Rolls-Royce, he discovered 3 of his tires had been slashed.

Cops are still searching for the suspects.

First off, no one is making fun of someone allegedly pointing guns at them and robbing them. However, when you read the report that he wanted to chase them, but his Rolls-Royce had three tires slashed, that’s straight out of Hollywood. Literally.

We wrote back in May after the draft that perhaps both the Bucs and the Dolphins, who both could have used safety help for this season, may have made a mistake by passing on the former Noles star. The Rams got him with the 17th overall pick. Miami had even drafted Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick instead of James at #11.

And Pro Football Focus pointed out here, that his 90.6 grade in pass coverage was #1 in their ranking formula for college safeties, and also his overall grade (92.1) on their scale ranked him #2. PFF had James ranked their fifth best player in the entire draft.

James, his representatives or the Chargers have still not commented on the robbery report.

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Florida State Seminoles

New FSU coach Willie Taggart anxious to get Noles nationally relevant again

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Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday morning new FSU coach Willie Taggart met with the ACC media signaling that Seminoles practice and September games won’t be far behind.

Interestingly, it was Taggart’s third different conference media kickoff with his third different school in three years. A year ago he was standing in Los Angeles, as Oregon’s coach at the Pac 12 media days and two years ago, was representing USF at the American Athletic Conference at their media kickoff in Newport, RI.

Nevertheless, Taggart has infused Florida State and their fan base and continued to share his vision for immediately improving them on and off the field. He spoke at length with the ACC Media:

Taggart covered several interesting subjects, including lack of offensive productivity. He was asked whether it shocked him that FSU was ranked last in several ACC offensive categories:

“I think everything about last year shocked me…. That’s football. That’s life. That’s behind us, now. It’s on us to change those things, because it’s up to us to change those things… That’s the expectation for us: to be a whole lot better than what we did last year. So, I’m looking forward to our guys changing that narrative.”

He was then asked about his vision for the Seminoles program in the near future:

“My vision for this program s to win multiple championships in a first class manner…. That’s always going to be our vision. And, to me, that’s what Florida State is all about. That’s what I grew up (in Bradenton) watchin’, lovin’, when it came to Florida State football. Every year competing for a championship…Every year they were winning. That’s our goal. That’s our vision. That’s why you come to Florida State. To win championships.”

The ACC media waited until the end to ask about the competition at quarterback for this fall. Taggart was amused.

“This is the last question? And someone finally asked me about the quarterback position?… I am kinda like the rest of you all. I’m ready to see who’s going to be our quarterback, as well. I’m excited. This is the first time I’ve been in a position as a the head football coach where we have three guys that can play for you. I’m looking forward to training camp and these guys competing for the job… They understand when you come here, you’re going to have to compete. Nothing is going to be given to you…. Can’t wait to see who separates themselves, as we go into the season. As soon as they do that, we will let you all know.”

The Noles will return 2016 starting QB Deondre Francois, who was lost for the season in the opening game with Alabama, and also sophomore James Blackman who took over and played better, as the season wore on. He led FSU to wins over the Gators and in the Independence Bowl over Southern Miss.

It will be easier with battering ram running back Cam Akers to hand the ball off to, as well.

Finally, Taggart does have a lot to live up to after the Noles massive success of 35 plus years and counting. He’s a coach that is only 47-50 for his career at Western Kentucky, USF and last year at Oregon (7-5 a year ago) and Taggart knows that scrutiny will start with the Labor Day night opener at home with conference rival Virginia Tech and only grow from there.

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