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Florida State Seminoles

FSU at Virginia trying not become even more irrelevant

Florida Football Insiders

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Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports
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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 an underdog to Virginia in ACC football. Yet, it is.

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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Florida State Seminoles

Taggart not revealing FSU QB plan for Wake Forrest

Abbey Radeka

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Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

FSU head coach Willie Taggart has been pretty upfront about the quarterback situation in Tallahassee, since officially naming James Blackman as the starter before their season opener. However he’s keeping his decision a little closer to the vest this week.

Wether it’s been an intentional move or simply out of desperation, or likely both, Taggart has found himself employing a two quarterback system after starter James Blackman hurt his knee midway through the Louisville game in Week 4. Alex Hornibrook finished the game and brought home the first semi good-looking win for the Noles. The graduate transfer from Wisconsin started the following week against NC state in what was arguably, the Seminoles best game of the season.

Then, prior to this past weekends demolition against Clemson, Taggart named Blackman as starter but explained that Hornibrook would see substantial playing time as well. On Saturday, he did just that, but it proved to be more of a hinderance than beneficial as the offense struggled to get anything going through two and a half quarters.

Though his decision to play both QBs was likely in an effort to give the Noles an edge against the Tiger’s powerhouse of a defensive line, the constant switching didn’t allow either quarterback to get into any sort of a rhythm and only added to the problems that the team is having.

On Thursday, Taggart gave his final thoughts about their upcoming game against Wake Forrest in which they are 2.5 point underdogs. And unlike last week, he gave no indication on who fans can expect to see under center.

When asked if Blackman will be his guy, he said “You’ll see Saturday.”  That was followed up by a question asking if he was planning on using both QB’s, to which he echoed his previous response, “You’ll see Saturday.”

Right now, Taggart is heading into crunch time to try and constitute this 2019 season as rebuilding year.

This past Saturday in Clemson was certainly disappointing because FSU seemed to have more offensive promise than last year, however, that game was not a great way to get a pulse of where the team is at.

It’ll be how they play in upcoming teams on the schedule like Wake Forest, Syracuse, Miami and Boston College to see if the program is truly in the dumps. If they cant recover and compete with those teams to pull out an 8-4 record for the season, it’s going to be hard for Taggart to convince his critics that he’s getting the program back on an upward trajectory.

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Florida State Seminoles

FSU falls badly to Clemson again

Abbey Radeka

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Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

It was a game where both FSU’s offense and defense would have to put together their best performance of the season for an entire game to remotely have a chance against the reigning national champions. But in an unsurprising series of events, FSU came up extremely short on both ends, as the Tigers rolled 45-14.

In a snapshot, the offense was unable to cross the 50 yard line until late in the third quarter, and the defense, who’ve prided themselves on being able to stop the run, allowed Clemson (6-0, 4-0 in ACC) to rush for 306 yards with an of average of 5.9 yards per carry, let alone put any pressure on Trevor Lawrence.

The game started off on a rough note as FSU (3-3, 2-2 in the ACC) allowed Clemson to steamroll down to their 5 yard line in 2 minutes. After a near goal line stand, Lawrence found Travis Etienne on a 4th and 1 for a TD. This was only a preview as to what was to come for the remainder of the half as the Tigers took a dominating 28-0 lead.

In the second half, FSU allowed for another 14 unanswered points, falling behind 42-0. The Noles were on the verge of a shutout until Alex Hornibrook connected with Tamorrion Terry across the middle, who ran it into the end zone from 64 yards out.

After a field goal by Clemson, Florida State got their second score of the game in the final minutes of the game when Khalan Laborn ran for a 40-yard touchdown to bring the score to 45-14.

FSU announced James Blackman as starter earlier in the week, but playing time was split evenly between him and Hornibrook, who both struggled to garner any sort of passing game. Blackman completed 8 of 20 passes for 60 yards with two interceptions. Hornibrook was 8 of 12 for 84 yards with a touchdown and interception.

Granted, both guys were under a ton of pressure from Clemson’s D-Line who completely outmatched the Seminole O-Line, but both cracked under pressure. And worse, Clemsons solid defensive front managed to keep Cam Akers silent, as he totaled just 34 yards on nine carries.

When you get blown out by a conference rival, there isn’t much, if anything, to celebrate and it’s certainly hard to get excited about a moral victory. However, the one positive take FSU’s head coach, Willie Taggart, can take from the game is that his team did not quit, which is something he can’t say about their blowout at home last season.

“I thought our guys fought until the end and I was pleased to see that. Our guys kept fighting and kept trying to make plays and that’s what you want to see out of your football team.”

He added, “We didn’t quit. You won’t see this football team quit. You’ll see this football team fight in every single game. Yeah, we didn’t play well, but our guys didn’t quit—they fought until the end.”

He also seemed confident in a bounce back next week in their matchup on the road with Wake Forrest.

“I told our guys afterwards, I love the way they fought through the game and we can’t let this one game cause us to lose two games…we got to get back to work. I know they will. I know they’ll fight back and get back next week.”

While an upset this game was pretty much off the table for most, it did just turned out to be another harsh reminder of just how far this once powerhouse school has fallen from the ranks.

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