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FSU opens Willie Taggart era Monday night

Florida Football Insiders

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Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a fresh start for Florida State on Monday night as the Noles open the 2018 season with new coach Willie Taggart. And, this will not be some “cupcake game,” rather an ACC showdown at home with Virginia Tech.

The Noles have plenty to be optimistic about and here’s what we are watching:

Francois is back

A year ago, QB Deondre Francois led FSU onto the field at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta for a huge top 10 preseason showdown with Alabama. When it was over, the Tide had won and had injured Francois’ left knee costing him the rest of the season.

He’s now rehabbed his way back and beaten out the starter who took over for him in 2017, James Blackman, for the job. Taggart made the announcement last week after a lengthy camp battle that they would go with Francois.

The Noles and new offensive coordinator Walt Bell hope Francois will return to his 2016 red-shrit freshman season form. Francois was good that year, including in FSU’s win over Michigan in the Orange Bowl.

Give the football to Cam Akers

The now sophomore ran for over 1,000 yards with a 5.3 average per carry and seven touchdowns last year as true freshman. He’s already being touted as one of the best running backs in the nation for this year, and Bell as the play caller will likely go to Akers early and often to start the season.

FSU also returns veteran back Jacques Patrick for this season and they hope to be a 1-2 punch in this opener against what is traditionally a formidable Virginia Tech defense.

Which leads us to…

Don’t overlook the Hokies

Coach Justin Fuente brings a good mix of experience and new blood with his team to Tallahassee Monday night. Most importantly, QB Josh Jackson, who threw for just shy of 3,000 yards and 20 TDs with another 300+ yards rushing and six more touchdowns in his first season, is at the helm.

The Seminoles defense will have their hands full against Jackson. He led Virginia Tech to a 7-1 start last year before they finished 9-4.

And, Fuente’s specialty dating back to his assistant coach days at TCU is working with quarterbacks. So, let’s see what kind of improvements Jackson has made for his sophomore year.

Finally, Noles will “Black it out”

FSU has announced that they will wear all black uniforms for the fifth time in program history for Taggart’s first time on the sideline. The new head coach said his “players council” made up of leaders from each class, made the decision.

Also, the Seminoles student section will go with the “blackout” as well under the lights tonight.

You know that pregame, Taggart, his new staff, the players and approximately 80,000 will be fired up.

Now, let’s see what his debut looks like.

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