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Florida State Seminoles

FSU coach Taggart knows speed of offense will improve its success

Abbey Radeka

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Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The “ACC Kickoff” got underway in Charlotte, NC, Wednesday, as teams from the Atlantic Division gave the media a preview of the quickly approaching 2019 season. And, FSU Head Coach Willie Taggart, is bringing some much needed optimism for what he’s hoping the Seminole offense can become.

Taggart spoke first in the main interview room and then, to the assembled media in a breakout room for another 15 minutes. There, Tampa Bay Times writer Joey Knight, asked about the tempo of his 2019 offense, and if it will be faster than the more successful teams he’s previously coached?

To which he responded, “Yes we will be.”

Here’s more of the answer:

He added:

“After a year of trying to do this our guys have a better understanding of what we’re trying to do and you’ve seen in back in South Florida, the first year we weren’t going as fast, they still were learning it too, and once they figured it out, then it was fast all the time. But I think the way Coach Briles is doing things will be a lot faster here.”

Taggart, known for his “Gulf Coast Offense” that led him to an 11-2 season at USF, said that with a year of this offensive style under their belt, this FSU team will be even faster than any other teams in the past.

Obviously, this season is a crucial one for Taggart, and he’s made many moves between seasons to get the Seminole’s offense back to what it has been known to be.

The past-paced style of play is certainly going to help, but none of that will matter without a solid leader directing the ball on the field. As we saw with Taggart’s time with the South Florida, a large factor into making his rushed offense work so well was having a guy like Quinton Flowers, who could execute it.

As we’ve recently reported, FSU is one of a multiple schools in the state struggling to find the right guy to fill their QB position. After the January dismissal of last year’s starter Deondre Francois, junior James Blackman will apparently be the quarterback for this season.

However, the pressure is on second year boss, Willie Taggart, and he secured left-handed Wisconsin graduate transfer Alex Hornibrook, who could become the guy very quickly, if Blackman falters or should get injured. However, Hornibrook has not been running a speed spread-out offense previously with the Badgers.

Taggart continued on the state of the QB competition in Tallahassee on Wednesday:

We can assume that a main factor in winning the starting spot will be the guy that can speed up the offense and turn things around quickly in Tallahassee, just as Taggart did starting his second year in Tampa a few seasons back.

Abbey is a native Floridan who grew up a fan of all Tampa Bay sports teams. She’s recently graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Media Communication Studies. In her time at FSU, she was an In-Game Host for the Basketball and Baseball teams, and reported for Seminole Sports Magazine, producing feature stories that appeared on Fox Sports Sun. She’s excited to share her perspective on all of Florida’s Football teams, especially the Seminoles.

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Florida State Seminoles

FSU visited by Dungy and Brooks in Bradenton

Abbey Radeka

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

FSU has spent the week practicing at IMG in Bradenton. On Wednesday, head coach Willie Taggart invited former NFL head coach Tony Dungy and Seminole legend Derrick Brooks spend some time with the team and offer a few words of wisdom after practice.

Taggart wanted the guys to give his payers some insight on what it takes to be a part of a turn around team.

The former Super Bowl winning head coach told the team team that, if they want to see success on the field, they’re going to have to come together to do it.

He ended with what it really means to be a champion, and having that championship mentality goes far beyond what you can do for your school on the field.

“Being a champion isn’t just being the best you can be on the field. Thats part of it. But it’s being the best teammate you can be, its being the best student you can be, person you can be and impact everyone. We didn’t bring you to Florida State just to win a national champion ship…Be the best person you can be for this university, for your family for your teammates, and you’ll leave a legacy here at Florida State.

You guys wanted to come to Florida State because of what these guys did. There are kids now who are going to want to come to Florida State because of what guys do. And that’s the power, that’s the fun, that’s what you’re going to really remember.”

Brooks then joined him for an extended Q&A session and told the group of guys, including his son, sophomore DeCalon Brooks, about what goes into a championship culture.

“It doesn’t take talent to have a championship culture, right? It takes effort. It takes awesome. No excuses, no explanations.” And mirroring the sentiment of Dungy he added, “that championship culture has to extend itself off the field…and we have the ingredients to be a championship-culture program.”

You can watch the full conversation here.

Coach Dungy has had a relationship with the Seminoles for a while, as Bobby Bowden was one of his role models when he began his career in coaching. And, in his time in Tampa with the Bucs, he coached two FSU greats in Brooks and Warrick Dunn.

Dungy and Brooks were foundational pieces of turning the Buccaneer program around and instilling a championship culture in Tampa Bay.

There’s no doubt that Tallahassee is ready for the return of a championship culture.

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Florida State Seminoles

FSU Starting QB plot thickens

Abbey Radeka

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Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Many FSU fans are heading into the football season cautiously optimistic that this year, at the very least, will be an improvement from the last. Others are still questioning if Willie Taggart’s second year will look any different from the first, and that’s largely due to the fact that the Noles are just under three weeks away from kickoff with no certain QB1.

With former FSU starter Deodre Francois long gone, the battle is mainly between former backup QB James Blackman and former Wisconsin QB Alex Hornibrook. From what we can tell so far, it seems as if FSU’s offensive staff has spent much of the offseason preparing Blackman for the job, but for the most part, it still seems up in the air.

On Monday, Taggart was asked by the media if there would any benefit to deciding who is going to be the starting quarterback sooner rather than later.

His answer was vauge, but encouraging.

“It all depends on the circumstances. I think you always like to have a guy that’s your guy but we’re going to keep it competitive. Both guys are doing a great job and it’s been fun to watch. They both go in and execute the offense and I’ve been impressed because not only do they execute the offense with the ones but they get in with the twos and do that same thing. That’s impressive to me. They both are having a really good camp and we’ll keep it going.”

“We’ll keep it going” is not exactly what Florida State fans want to hear as they eagerly await for an offensive leader they can begin rallying behind.

For now, all we have to go on is what’s been happening in practice.

Brendan Sonnone of Noles247 reported on the state of the competition from practice on Monday. Here’s what he had to say about each of the guys vying for the job.

Sonnone started with Blackman, saying that he’s continuing to stand out.

“Spent 10-15 minutes watching the quarterbacks throw on Sunday and James Blackman remained the most consistent of the bunch in that viewing time. Blackman, who appears to be having fun but also quickly getting in and out of reps, was on target on every throw he made on the day. He regularly put it across the facemasks of his receiver or on their hands. Easily catchable balls.”

As for Hornibrook, Sonnone said:

“He also knows where he is going with the ball and when to get rid of it. His main issue is that he sometimes leaves them a bit high.”

But, now officially in the mix is Louisville transfer, Jordan Travis. On Monday morning, it was announced that he has been officially been granted eligibility for the 2019 season.

According to Noles247, “He had one of the nicer balls of the viewing session when he connected on a vertical route with wide receiver Adarius Dent. Travis has looked to be moving around with a bit of a limp in recent days.”

The addition of Travis into the competition is likely going to make it harder for Taggart and OC Kendal Briles to select their starting guy, but on the positive side, it’s better to have too many options than not enough.

We just hope that the right decision can be made before the season kicks off, rather than during.

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