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Florida State Seminoles

FSU humbled by Virginia Tech Monday night

Florida Football Insiders



Joe Rondone/Tallahasse Democrat via USA TODAY NETWORK

(Introducing College Football analyst/writer Matt Zemek, who has some thoughts on Virginia Tech spoiling the debut of Willie Taggart and the 2018 Seminoles, 24-3 Monday night. Follow him on Twitter @MattZemek)


The reality of coaching at Florida State means that bad Week 1 games against conference opponents will invite a firestorm of criticism. Willie Taggart knows that. Yet, what Taggart also knows — fresh off a first season at Oregon which was similarly turbulent — is that first seasons can’t be expected to fully solve problems. First seasons need to produce answers a coach can reliably apply to the following season.

It is clear that Florida State will spend all of the 2018 season trying to find the answers Taggart can use for 2019. Whose fault is that? Not Taggart’s. While Taggart was outcoached by Virginia Tech’s Justin Fuente, most of this loss can’t be laid at Taggart’s feet. He certainly didn’t coach his best, but so much of this game revealed both the sloppiness of a Week 1 game and the weaknesses Taggart inherited from Jimbo Fisher, who left in soap opera fashion last December.

Start with the offensive line. Fisher left that line in a state of disrepair. Far too often over the past few seasons, Deondre Francois and James Blackman had to take ferocious hits or run for their lives to avoid them. Francois, in the 2018 opener, got sacked several more times and was rarely comfortable in the pocket. The Hokies also repeatedly pressured and even sacked Francois rushing just three lineman.

That’s inexcusable.

While, Florida State’s defense didn’t have a clue on the first two Virginia Tech drives of the game, they nearly pitched a shutout after that. FSU’s defense played well enough to win Monday night. This cannot be pinned on them.

The offense failing to score a single touchdown (even though one touchdown appeared to have been scored, but wasn’t reviewed on replay)? That’s far more unacceptable. While Francois, as a veteran, could have done a few more things to make the offense function better, most of his nightmare on Monday came from his linemen.

Another example was the first three possessions of the second half. Florida State ran 10 plays, nine of them either lost yardage or Francois threw incomplete. They punted three times.

Fisher didn’t give Taggart a particular cornerstone to build an offense around.

Why did Monday night go wrong? Start with Jimbo.

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