2018 was a season to forget for many reasons, if you’re an FSU fan. Aside from the struggles of the team as a whole, some individual players stood out. One of them, defensive end Brian Burns, is suddenly looking to get his name called on Thursday night in round one of the NFL Draft.
Burns was a top recruit in the state of Florida after a fantastic high school career and a part of two state championship teams in his time at Ft. Lauderdale’s American Heritage. At Florida State, he made an immediate impact as a freshman. He played both end and linebacker and posted 9.5 sacks, a total of 24 tackles with 10.5 of those for a loss. All of that, and he wasn’t even a every down player.
Burns followed that up with 48 tackles with 4.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, and two blocked punts in 2017.
Those stats showcased his skills in both the defensive pass rush and on special teams. Last season, the worst for FSU in decades, he was one of the lone bright spots for the Noles posting a stat line of 52 tackles with ten sacks, three forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. Burns was eventually was named first-team All-ACC.
At 6’5 and almost 250 pounds, Bruns has a long, athletic frame. Some scouts believe he could play some hybrid linebacker if asked. He turned heads at the Combine with a 4.53 40 time and 36 inch vertical leap.
Burns possesses quickness, but speed is what sets him apart from the rest. This is what has helped him get to the quarterback at a high rate.
He is not bad against the run, and he has the bend that a lot of scouts look for when looking for an impact pass rusher. Some scouts are comparing him to former hybrid rusher, like Aldon Smith and former first-round pick Leonard Floyd. And, he has reportedly been great in individual work outs and interviews with teams, too.
With how vital edge rushing is in the NFL, it would not be surprising at all to see Burns’ name called out as one of the coveted 32 picks later in the first round Thursday night.
Clock controversy punctuated latest FSU collapse Saturday
It wasn’t just that the FSU Seminoles once again unraveled in the 4th quarter. This time, a clock controversy in the final 10 seconds with Florida State trying to get the game tying touchdown marred the end of yet another loss in coach Willie Taggart’s short tenure.
First, Florida State looked sharp early for the third straight game took a lead in the intermission at Charlottesville at 14 – 10. And, their much criticized defense, which brought on former USF coach and Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt as a consultant this week, played well enough to get them into the fourth quarter with a 17 – 10 margin.
However, just like against Boise State and ULM, they allowed Virginia to put together three lengthy TD drives late in the game. The second one capped an 11 play, 75-yard march but after RB Wayne Taulapapa powered in from a yard out, the Cavaliers missed the extra point.
Still, Virginia got the ball back in short order and once again marched on Florida State’s defense in just over two minutes of clock time and Taulapapa scored again. QB Bryce Perkins scored on the two-point conversion for a seven-point (31-24) lead.
And, that led to the attempted heroics of quarterback James Blackman and the Florida state offense. They quickly got inside of the Virginia plus territory. And, a pass interference call put them at the Cavs 16 yard line.
However, when Blackman was sacked on the ensuing play and Florida State showed poor management, eventually taking their final timeout with 19 seconds left.
That set up the controversial ending as two plays later Blackman completed a pass to Keyshawn Helton down inside the Virgina 5-yard line. Under college rules, the clock is supposed to stop on a first down, but it appeared that the time keeper allowed at least two, and maybe three seconds, to still run off the clock.
In college football, clock stops on the first down and doesn't start until it's ready for play.
Watch the clock not stop until three full seconds after FSU's first down, leading FSU not to clock it and instead run a nothing play to lose the game.
Real bad pic.twitter.com/0KkZb3fknq
— Alex Kirshner (@alex_kirshner) September 15, 2019
So, that there were only :04 left for Florida State to run a final play. Without a timeout, they chose not to spike the ball and instead, direct snapped the ball to running back Cam Akers. He was tackled at the 2-yard line with no time remaining.
This latest stumble, albeit controversially, is only going to add to the outcry for Taggart to be dismissed. Florida State is still reeling from their first losing season in over 40 years in Taggart’s initial campaign of 2018.
Now, they are 1 – 2 to start the year and are frankly, fortunate that they didn’t lose to Louisiana-Monroe last Saturday night in overtime to keep from being 0-3.
Clock or no clock, it’s bad in Tallahassee.
FSU at Virginia trying not become even more irrelevant
The elites are under pressure in America these days.
No, not Clemson and Alabama, but pretty much everyone else.
Every presidential debate is an attack on the elites and what they have done. Attacking the elites is a good way to get a favorable reaction from a large group of people.
In college football, many elites are on the run, too.
Michigan is in deep trouble and faces a huge test at Wisconsin next week. If the Wolverines fail this season, Jim Harbaugh’s barren track record in Ann Arbor will continue to weigh on him.
He might not be on the hot seat if the 2019 season fails to meet expectations, but the enveloping sense of misery which has hovered over Michigan football this decade will close in and make everyone that much more disappointed at the inability of Harbaugh to figure this damn thing out.
Other elites – proud programs with substantial traditions – are also scrambling in desperation, trying to extricate themselves from prisons in which they have lived throughout this century.
UCLA, Nebraska and Tennessee have not won a single conference championship this century. They all entered this season with second-year coaches who hoped to show themselves, their players and their fans that progress was being made.
The Bruins, Huskers and Vols didn’t need to win 10 games this season, but they did need to show that they were solidly and decisively on the right track.
Through two games, none of them have improved, and Tennessee has actually regressed. Given how bad all three teams were in 2018, that is a disaster in all three places.
Yet, one detail about UCLA, Nebraska and Tennessee shows why none of the three coaches at those programs – Chip Kelly, Scott Frost, and Jeremy Pruitt – are on the hot seat right now.
The fact that UCLA, Nebraska, and Tennessee haven’t won a conference title in 20 or more years means that the coaches in Los Angeles, Lincoln, and Knoxville will get a third season to prove if they can turn things around. They will all get one more chance after this year, at minimum.
Everyone knows they walked into highly suboptimal situations, but the fact that their programs had been stagnant to varying degrees is what will truly give them more time.
Florida State is not in that same boat. Florida State was beating Harbaugh and Michigan in the Orange Bowl a few short years ago. Florida State was in the College Football Playoff five years ago.
Erosion won’t sit well in Tallahassee. Whether you think it is reasonable or not, realistic or not, you know that with Urban Meyer being unemployed, Florida State won’t think twice about firing Willie Taggart after two seasons if 2019 is a total mess.
This brings us to Saturday in Charlottesville.
Florida State should never be viewed as a team which could potentially get blown out by Virginia. Yet, it could be.
Florida State should never be the program facing more doubts and more questions in a matchup with Virginia. Yet, it is.
It’s really very simple: Either Florida State plants its feet in the sand, steadies itself, and totally reshapes the direction of its season… or it will lose.
If Florida State somehow plays a great game yet loses in the end, maybe we can revisit this conversation, but if the Seminoles are anything less than very good in Week 3, and they get tagged with a second loss in three games, Willie Taggart will be staring at a quick end to his tenure.
Overreaction? I don’t think so.
The elites of college football in years gone by are on the run these days in America. Florida State is right there with them.
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