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Florida State Seminoles

New FSU coach Willie Taggart speaks during Independence Bowl broadcast

Florida Football Insiders

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USA Today Sports

With FSU concluding it’s season Wednesday afternoon in the Independence Bowl, new head Nole, Willie Taggart is on scene, but not coaching, in Shreveport, LA.

In fact, Taggart, who is not shy to post on social media, let the fans know earlier on Wednesday that he’s got the backing of some Seminoles all time greats. Including, this guy who was with him at the team hotel Wednesday morning:

Deion Sanders, as popular and recognizable a Nole that there currently is right now, also reportedly, spoke to the team prior to the game with Southern Miss.

Meanwhile, back to Taggart, he spoke with ESPN announcers Dave LaMont and Ahmad Brooks in the broadcast booth live during the second quarter. Some quick tidbits from the coach:

On what the last few weeks have been like:

“It’s been fun. Now that it’s the fourth time taking over a program, you’re used to it a little bit….the people in Tallahassee have been really excited…players are really excited and getting a lot of phone calls from coaches.”

That last part is a reference to Taggart trying to fill out his coaching staff from what remains after Jimbo Fisher departed for Texas A&M and took some of them, and some of them remained to coach the bowl game.

On the FSU job itself:

“Florida State has always been that ‘Dream Job’ for me. As a kid I always wanted to play at Florida State. Wasn’t good enough. I wish coach Bowden would’ve recruited me there (Taggart was a high school star QB at Bradenton Manatee High School)…probably would have had another national championship there,” he deadpanned. “Not in a million years would I have thought it would’ve happened right now. And yes, it’s the only job I would have left Eugene (Oregon) for.”

Continuing with the conversation on ESPN TV, on what kind of talent he has right now:

“We have great players. I told one of my buddies the other day, ‘there’s some toys out there to work with.’ We gotta get back to playing team football. Playing with passion and being excited about it.”

Taggart was asked about what Noles fans can expect to see on offense:

“I don’t think you’ll see a huddle,” he joked. “You’ll see the tempo pick up more than what you’ve seen here lately.…we’re going to get our guys in space and let our athletes do what they do.” Taggart’s up tempo spread offenses were very successful two years ago at USF and last year at Oregon. FSU has been one of the slowest paced and using the least amount of plays offenses in college football under Fisher the last few years.

Finally, on keeping Odell Haggins, a long time defensive line assistant, who’s the interim coach for the bowl game and about promoting him Tuesday to Assistant Head Coach:

“I just watched Odell over the last couple of weeks with the football team and how much respect those players have for him. His passion for Florida State….being on the road with him recruiting. He does a great job recruiting. He’s great in the home (recruits). It’s easy to be great at something when you are passionate about it….He’s Florida State through and through.”

Taggart has not completed his coaching staff, and most importantly has not named his offensive and defensive coordinators, as of yet. Those will obviously be crucial hires not just in the short term for the upcoming year, but for his first two or three years.

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Florida State Seminoles

No, Florida State is not getting rid of Willie Taggart

Florida Football Insiders

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Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

As our headline clearly presents, we interrupt the chaos and fantasy of those anti-Willie Taggart Florida State fans, who believe that somehow, he is not going to be their coach for the next couple of seasons.

Yes, it is bad right now for Florida State for several reasons. As our Matt Zemek laid out after Saturday’s blowout loss at Syracuse, you can only blame Jimbo Fisher for so much of it. And, because Taggart is in charge, he now will have to bear the brunt of whatever else goes on the next few games and to the end of 2018.

On Monday, Taggart met with the media and read from a prepared statement trying to reassure Florida State fans that the Noles will be better, and soon. Sure, there were many looking at that press conference and saying he doesn’t know what to do. However, FSU is only 1-2 with a winnable game coming this Saturday.

And, fundamentally, one of the things holding them back are talented skill players that must be addressed immediately; the play of the offensive line.  And as this article in the Tallahassee Democrat lays out, the Noles do not have a lot of options currently, in terms of new or better personnel.

Still, offensive line coach Greg Frey is very experienced at several other major programs and obviously, offensive coordinator Walt Bell has worked and called plays and had success in major college programs.

So, the belief that those two can improve the scheme and the blocking has to be there for the FSU faithful.

Now for the silliness that Taggart may only last one season.

That’s what it is, silliness.

He would be due over 21 million dollars in a contract buyout, if he was fired after this year, which Florida state would never pay at this stage.

Further complicating the situation, Florida State’s AD Stan Wilcox, who did the deal with Taggart last December to bring him from Oregon to Tallahassee, is leaving next month for a position with the NCAA.  So, the Seminoles new athletic director, yet to be hired, will have to probably be given a season to evaluate Taggart and that is going to be 2019.

And it’s important to remember the Taggart had a 2 – 10 record his first year at USF, but eventually turned them into a 10-win and bowl game winning program before leaving for the Pac-12 two years ago.

Now, Taggart did win a couple of games early in the Oregon season last year to take the pressure off, but still finished just 7-5, leaving before the Ducks bowl game.

So, perhaps the FSU offense will imporve this week against Northern Illinois, at least enough for Florida State to try and salvage a five or six wins season.

But, if it does not, Willie Taggart is still not going anywhere.

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Florida State Seminoles

FSU’s “Rag-tag” Taggart team tagged, flagged and bagged Saturday

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Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Jimbo Fisher left behind a big mess. That’s what Week 1 taught the college football world about Florida State.

Week 2 against Samford, as bad as it was, nevertheless represented a game being played five days after the emotionally draining Virginia Tech opener. Young men — or old NFL veterans — are not supposed to play a violent sport twice in a span of roughly 120 hours. One can give FSU a full pass for that game. It contained very little real-world value in identifying what is right or wrong with this team.

But Week 3? On the road? With a full week of rest and relatively normal game-preparation circumstances? Against a Syracuse program which has struggled to play defense and struggled to win with any consistency over the past 15 years?

This was the time for Willie Taggart to show that, as much as Jimbo left him with a toxic cleanup site and insufficient hazmat gear, the Seminoles’ new coaching staff could manage a problematic situation and make necessary adjustments.

This was the week to show that damage control could define a season in which no one expected Florida State to be great. This project was all about the pursuit of competence and steadiness — not the dominance of old (that is a goal which always existed beyond this season’s capacities), but merely finding one’s footing as a program and setting the stage for 2019.

Instead, the Seminoles were “tagged” by Syracuse running for 231 yards, were “flagged” for 10 penalties, and the offense was “bagged,” by going a horrible 1-14 on third down, and being shutout deep into the fourth quarter.

Syracuse dominated Florida State 30-7. And, the blank stares from Taggart out onto the field shown on TV Saturday are only going to make Noles fans more venomous than they were before this one kicked off.

After this colossal failure in the Carrier Dome, Florida State has no footing.

It is sinking in quicksand… and its coach currently appears paralyzed in his attempt to do anything about it.

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Florida State Seminoles

FSU likely looking at high scoring-“track meet” at Syracuse

Florida Football Insiders

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Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

In what is the most prominent game of the weekend involving state school teams, FSU limps into the Carrier Dome for a Saturday noon game with Syracuse.

With growing concern about Coach Willie Taggart just two games in, the Noles need some positive things to happen and try to find a way to come out of Western New York with a victory.

One thing is obvious, Florida State’s defense is in disarray and with Syracuse having a powerful dual-threat quarterback, the Seminoles will likely have to win in a high-scoring “track meet” type game.

Even though Florida State played better in the second half defensively in both of their home games with Virginia Tech and Samford last week, there’s still real cause for concern.

For example, short week or not, Samford quarterback Devlin Hodges threw for 475 yards on the FSU defense and receiver Kelvin McKnight had a career night at Doak Campbell with 14 catches, 215 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Yes, Florida State slowed the Bulldogs down in the second half holding them only to one field goal. And did register four interceptions of Hodges. Still the most Ardent FSU supporters have to be concerned that Florida State has given up an average of 422 yards and 25 points in their first two games.

As for the ‘Cuse, QB Eric Dungey (above) is probably a better runner than passer, and the Orange have gone over 450 yards in both of their opening games while scoring 107 points.

Now, the quality of competition was Wagner and Western Michigan, but still yards are yards and points are points.

New FSU defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett has got to find some answers for the read option and Dungey’s Mobility. Unfortunately, Florida State doesn’t have the usual talented physical and fast front seven that fans have been accustomed to in Tallahassee over the years.

So more than likely, quarterback Deondre Francois, running back Cam Akers and receiver Nyquan Murray are going to have to help put a lot of points up on the board, if Florida State hopes to get out of the Dome with a much-needed ACC win

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