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Florida State Seminoles

New FSU coach Willie Taggart anxious to get Noles nationally relevant again

Florida Football Insiders

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Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday morning new FSU coach Willie Taggart met with the ACC media signaling that Seminoles practice and September games won’t be far behind.

Interestingly, it was Taggart’s third different conference media kickoff with his third different school in three years. A year ago he was standing in Los Angeles, as Oregon’s coach at the Pac 12 media days and two years ago, was representing USF at the American Athletic Conference at their media kickoff in Newport, RI.

Nevertheless, Taggart has infused Florida State and their fan base and continued to share his vision for immediately improving them on and off the field. He spoke at length with the ACC Media:

Taggart covered several interesting subjects, including lack of offensive productivity. He was asked whether it shocked him that FSU was ranked last in several ACC offensive categories:

“I think everything about last year shocked me…. That’s football. That’s life. That’s behind us, now. It’s on us to change those things, because it’s up to us to change those things… That’s the expectation for us: to be a whole lot better than what we did last year. So, I’m looking forward to our guys changing that narrative.”

He was then asked about his vision for the Seminoles program in the near future:

“My vision for this program s to win multiple championships in a first class manner…. That’s always going to be our vision. And, to me, that’s what Florida State is all about. That’s what I grew up (in Bradenton) watchin’, lovin’, when it came to Florida State football. Every year competing for a championship…Every year they were winning. That’s our goal. That’s our vision. That’s why you come to Florida State. To win championships.”

The ACC media waited until the end to ask about the competition at quarterback for this fall. Taggart was amused.

“This is the last question? And someone finally asked me about the quarterback position?… I am kinda like the rest of you all. I’m ready to see who’s going to be our quarterback, as well. I’m excited. This is the first time I’ve been in a position as a the head football coach where we have three guys that can play for you. I’m looking forward to training camp and these guys competing for the job… They understand when you come here, you’re going to have to compete. Nothing is going to be given to you…. Can’t wait to see who separates themselves, as we go into the season. As soon as they do that, we will let you all know.”

The Noles will return 2016 starting QB Deondre Francois, who was lost for the season in the opening game with Alabama, and also sophomore James Blackman who took over and played better, as the season wore on. He led FSU to wins over the Gators and in the Independence Bowl over Southern Miss.

It will be easier with battering ram running back Cam Akers to hand the ball off to, as well.

Finally, Taggart does have a lot to live up to after the Noles massive success of 35 plus years and counting. He’s a coach that is only 47-50 for his career at Western Kentucky, USF and last year at Oregon (7-5 a year ago) and Taggart knows that scrutiny will start with the Labor Day night opener at home with conference rival Virginia Tech and only grow from there.

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Florida State Seminoles

New FSU coach Willie Taggart eager to get practices started Monday

Florida Football Insiders

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Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

It’s finally arrived. College football teams have begun to gather and hit the practice field aiming towards the start of the season at the end of this month.

And in Tallahassee, there is renewed optimism and enthusiasm for first year coach Willie Taggart.

We have well documented Taggart’s quick ascent to the Noles top spot, as it started with coaching his alma matter Western Kentucky, then returning USF to a nationally ranked bowl winning program and then, a single season in the Pac 12 at Oregon.

Now, the Noles, who floundered to a 6-6 regular season barely making a bowl game, hope Taggart can lead them back into ACC championship contention and beyond. Even if that’s not realistic for 2018, the belief is that they will be there next season for sure.

Taggart met with the media Sunday afternoon in advance of the Seminoles first practice for Monday and covered many subjects:

One hot topic is the quarterback position battle. That’s where last year’s true freshman starer James Blackman will be challenged by 2016 starter Deondre Francois. Francois was injured and lost for the season in the fourth quarter of FSU’s opening defeat against Alabama last September.

And the Noles have a third option to potentially go to in Bailey Hockman.

“They’re all going to have an opportunity. They all understand that,” Taggart said. “That starts now. … They know they’ve got to separate themselves.”

Taggart also told the media that receiver Nyqwan Murray and defensive tackle Marvin Wilson both with knee issues are not available to start practicing this week.

“Those guys will be limited. You won’t see them the first part of training camp, but I think as we get towards the end in training camp, you’ll see those guys out there practicing with us.”

Finally, in another example of Taggart understanding and embracing FSU’s tradition, he is bringing back for long time defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews.

Andrews who coached numerous defensive All Americans in Tallahassee from 1984 through 2009, including two National Championship seasons, is beloved by a great many of the FSU alumni and fans.

Taggart glowed Sunday,

“It’s great to have someone like that, that’s been here. He’s seen it all and has a lot of knowledge of the game. He has a lot of knowledge of Florida State. I think he’s someone that not only myself, but our entire staff, can learn something from while he’s here.”

The Noles will all be trying to learn something about their new coaches and teammates. And it won’t be a “cream puff” in the opener with Virginia Tech on Labor Day night.

Time to get to work.

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Florida State Seminoles

Report- former FSU now Rams safety Derwin James robbed at gunpoint

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Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Rookies often talk about their “Welcome to the NFL” moment. However, that’s usually reserved for something that happens on the field to remind them that they are playing against the best of the best and that they have to be careful for anything to happen to or for them.

Unfortunately, for former Seminoles star safety Derwin James, who was drafted in the first round by the L.A. Chargers in April, he was given that reminder apparently in a scary scene.

TMZ broke the story exclusively on Monday afternoon that James was robbed at gunpoint in Southern California last month:

According to the Gossip site, here’s the recap:

James, and his uncle were leaving an Italian restaurant on Sunset Blvd. on June 23 when 2 black males allegedly rushed them … demanding their jewelry. According to a warrant we obtained, both of the men had handguns and pointed them at James.

According to the docs, one of the men snatched the chain off James’ neck … and they also took his Rolex.

The thieves fled to a nearby car … and when Derwin tried to give chase in his Rolls-Royce, he discovered 3 of his tires had been slashed.

Cops are still searching for the suspects.

First off, no one is making fun of someone allegedly pointing guns at them and robbing them. However, when you read the report that he wanted to chase them, but his Rolls-Royce had three tires slashed, that’s straight out of Hollywood. Literally.

We wrote back in May after the draft that perhaps both the Bucs and the Dolphins, who both could have used safety help for this season, may have made a mistake by passing on the former Noles star. The Rams got him with the 17th overall pick. Miami had even drafted Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick instead of James at #11.

And Pro Football Focus pointed out here, that his 90.6 grade in pass coverage was #1 in their ranking formula for college safeties, and also his overall grade (92.1) on their scale ranked him #2. PFF had James ranked their fifth best player in the entire draft.

James, his representatives or the Chargers have still not commented on the robbery report.

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Florida State Seminoles

Noles will open 2019 season in Jacksonville against Boise State

Florida Football Insiders

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Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

We knew that Florida State would be opening their 2019 season with Boise State, as part of a “home and home” agreement. However, we now know that the game will not be played at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, but rather, at the newly renamed TIAA Bank Stadium in Jacksonville.

The Boise State website released the date (August 31st, 2019) and the location on Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the Florida Times-Union website has more on the game:

As the article indicates, the Jacksonville Sports Council or “JaxSports” had intended to make the announcement on Wednesday about the game coming to North Florida, but they were scooped on their scoop by the Broncos.

This will be FSU’s first regular season appearance at the stadium, the 2008 season, when Bobby Bowden’s Noles defeated Colorado 39-21. Coincidentally, Bowden coached his final game of his career at Florida State in the “Gator Bowl” game in that stadium on New Year’s Day 2010, as the Seminoles defeated his former school, West Virginia.

FSU led by QB E.J. Manuel, won that day 33-21 over the Mountaineers, which finished Bowden’s career with 389 wins, the Division I all time record for coaches.

The 2019 opener will be part of the college football kickoff weekend and will be nationally televised by one of ESPN’s networks. This is part of a recent trend by the network to pay heavily to powerhouse programs to play each other that first weekend in “made for TV” match-ups.

Florida State played in such a game on Labor Day night last year in Atlanta, where Alabama defeated them in the “Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic” game at the new Mercedes Benz Stadium. Both preseaon top five teams, The Tide stuffed FSU 24-7, and the Noles lost QB Deondre Francois to a season ending knee injury in the fourth quarter.

Longtime Florida State fans have a negative memory in Jacksonville, as the Seminoles were shocked in the opening game of the 1989 season as the preseason #6 team. That opening day, a little known (at the time) QB by the name of Brett Favre led Southern Miss to a 30-26 upset that put him on the radar for the first time and he eventually went on to a Hall of Fame NFL career.

This 2019 game with Boise State is for now set for that Saturday, but could be moved to Sunday or Monday, if ESPN desires at a later date.

Boise is no stranger to opening weekend “made for TV” upsets, as they stunned Georgia in “home away from home” game Atlanta in September of 2011.

The Noles are scheduled to return the home game to the Broncos the following year (2020), but that could be negotiated to another location. This is especially, since FSU moved their game out of their home stadium.

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