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Florida State Seminoles

FSU’s Dalvin Cook says he’s healthy and ready for NFL

Roy Cummings

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INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana –

Florida State running back Dalvin Cook is easily one of the best and most highly touted prospects in this year’s NFL Draft class. He is not, however, one of the cleanest.

Cook was charged with but later found not guilty of a domestic violence charge as a sophomore and he has twice had to have surgery to repair a bum right shoulder, the last time just last spring.

Cook says he’s had to address both of those issues during meetings with prospective NFL teams while here at the NFL Scouting Combine but he doesn’t believe either will dampen team’s enthusiasm for him.

“I tell every team I’m open and willing to answer every question,’’ Cook said. “I ain’t hiding nothing. If they ask me I’m willing to answer. I’m willing to move forward to be a better person.’’

And apparently a healthier person. Cook made it through his junior season just fine, finishing his three year career as the Noles all time leading rusher. Yet, questions are still being asked regarding his latest shoulder surgery, though Cook says that is no longer a concern.

“I checked out my medical,’’ Cook said while speaking to reporters on Thursday. “(With) every team, I passed my medical exam, so my shoulders are stable. They’re solid and I’m ready to go.’’

Indeed, but to where? Cook is a player who is starting to rise up team’s draft boards. Once considered a strong possibility to go to the Buccaneers at No, 19, there’s talk now that he could go as high as No. 4 to Jaguars or at least in the top five to someone.

Cook, of course, says he’d be glad to go anywhere, but he strongly suggested that the opportunity to play with former Seminoles, now Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston in Tampa would be something special.

“That would be a dream come true,’’ Cook said. “I played with Jameis for like a half a year and the games and the experiences that we had together, it was something that I will always remember.

“He’s one of those quarterbacks, he’s going to always make sure you’re doing the right thing, that you’re on top of it, being the player he knows you can be. He’s just one of those leaders that you just want to be around.’’

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

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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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