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Florida State Seminoles

Zemek- FSU “needs at least an 8-4 season”

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
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It was a rough 2018 for FSU, as the program had its first losing (5-7) season in four decades, but the Noles do have an opportunity to rebound. And, for the sake of second year coach Willie Taggart and staff, it better happen. And fast.

The first year “pass” that Taggart got last season is over and it’s him to turn it around, or else.

So what does a better FSU season look like for 2019?

Our colleague Matt Zemek was tasked by the site AllSportsDiscussion.com with taking a look at some ACC football programs and in specific, what he foresees as improvement for this year’s version of Noles:

And, as Zemek lays out, not all W-L records are creating equal. And, it will not just be the amount of wins or record, but whom Florida State defeats and how much improved they look doing it.

Here’s part of his thinking:

The challenge for Florida State this season: Can it make up enough ground — and derive enough benefit from the installation of Kendal Briles as offensive coordinator — to reach that 10-3 mark?

Florida State fans have to live in a world where — in 2019 — the answer to that question will probably be “No.” It will be a big ask to expect Florida State to go from bowlless to a big bowl.

It’s not fun. It’s not exciting. It is like taking a swallow of NyQuil… but it will hopefully make the patient better in the long run.

2019 is a year in which 8-4 is the reasonable goal, a three-game improvement which would not mean a sexy bowl bid, but would mean that the program is back on the right track.

Just to be clear, however: 8-4 by ANY route possible is NOT the measurement of a good season. Florida State could go 8-4 yet remain stuck, benefiting more from opponents’ mistakes than its own quality. (Remember the Louisville game last year.) This has to be a “good” 8-4, meaning…..”

You can read the rest of what Zemek wrote about what he views as Seminoles’ 2019 improvement here.

Meanwhile, FSU will try to sort out starting in August: their starting QB, bolster their tattered O-Line and get back the aggressive hard-hitting defense that made them one of dominant programs in college football for 30+ years.

It’s definitely a tall task, but FSU definitely has a talent base to be improved.

 

Florida State Seminoles

Clock controversy punctuated latest FSU collapse Saturday

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t just that the FSU Seminoles once again unraveled in the 4th quarter. This time, a clock controversy in the final 10 seconds with Florida State trying to get the game tying touchdown marred the end of yet another loss in coach Willie Taggart’s short tenure.

First, Florida State looked sharp early for the third straight game took a lead in the intermission at Charlottesville at 14 – 10. And, their much criticized defense, which brought on former USF coach and Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt as a consultant this week, played well enough to get them into the fourth quarter with a 17 – 10 margin.

However, just like against Boise State and ULM, they allowed Virginia to put together three lengthy TD drives late in the game. The second one capped an 11 play, 75-yard march but after RB Wayne Taulapapa powered in from a yard out, the Cavaliers missed the extra point.

Still, Virginia got the ball back in short order and once again marched on Florida State’s defense in just over two minutes of clock time and Taulapapa scored again. QB Bryce Perkins scored on the two-point conversion for a seven-point (31-24) lead.

And, that led to the attempted heroics of quarterback James Blackman and the Florida state offense. They quickly got inside of the Virginia plus territory. And, a pass interference call put them at the Cavs 16 yard line.

However, when Blackman was sacked on the ensuing play and  Florida State showed poor management, eventually taking their final timeout with 19 seconds left.

That set up the controversial ending as two plays later Blackman completed a pass to Keyshawn Helton down inside the Virgina 5-yard line. Under college rules, the clock is supposed to stop on a first down, but it appeared that the time keeper allowed at least two, and maybe three seconds, to still run off the clock.

Judge for yourself:

So, that there were only :04 left for Florida State to run a final play. Without a timeout, they chose not to spike the ball and instead, direct snapped the ball to running back Cam Akers. He was tackled at the 2-yard line with no time remaining.

This latest stumble, albeit controversially, is only going to add to the outcry for Taggart to be dismissed. Florida State is still reeling from their first losing season in over 40 years in Taggart’s initial campaign of 2018.

Now, they are 1 – 2 to start the year and are frankly, fortunate that they didn’t lose to Louisiana-Monroe last Saturday night in overtime to keep from being 0-3.

Clock or no clock, it’s bad in Tallahassee.

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Florida State Seminoles

FSU at Virginia trying not become even more irrelevant

Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

The elites are under pressure in America these days.

No, not Clemson and Alabama, but pretty much everyone else.

Every presidential debate is an attack on the elites and what they have done. Attacking the elites is a good way to get a favorable reaction from a large group of people.

In college football, many elites are on the run, too.

Michigan is in deep trouble and faces a huge test at Wisconsin next week. If the Wolverines fail this season, Jim Harbaugh’s barren track record in Ann Arbor will continue to weigh on him.

He might not be on the hot seat if the 2019 season fails to meet expectations, but the enveloping sense of misery which has hovered over Michigan football this decade will close in and make everyone that much more disappointed at the inability of Harbaugh to figure this damn thing out.

Other elites – proud programs with substantial traditions – are also scrambling in desperation, trying to extricate themselves from prisons in which they have lived throughout this century.

UCLA, Nebraska and Tennessee have not won a single conference championship this century. They all entered this season with second-year coaches who hoped to show themselves, their players and their fans that progress was being made.

The Bruins, Huskers and Vols didn’t need to win 10 games this season, but they did need to show that they were solidly and decisively on the right track.

Through two games, none of them have improved, and Tennessee has actually regressed. Given how bad all three teams were in 2018, that is a disaster in all three places.

Yet, one detail about UCLA, Nebraska and Tennessee shows why none of the three coaches at those programs – Chip Kelly, Scott Frost, and Jeremy Pruitt – are on the hot seat right now.

The fact that UCLA, Nebraska, and Tennessee haven’t won a conference title in 20 or more years means that the coaches in Los Angeles, Lincoln, and Knoxville will get a third season to prove if they can turn things around. They will all get one more chance after this year, at minimum.

Everyone knows they walked into highly suboptimal situations, but the fact that their programs had been stagnant to varying degrees is what will truly give them more time.

Florida State is not in that same boat. Florida State was beating Harbaugh and Michigan in the Orange Bowl a few short years ago. Florida State was in the College Football Playoff five years ago.

Erosion won’t sit well in Tallahassee. Whether you think it is reasonable or not, realistic or not, you know that with Urban Meyer being unemployed, Florida State won’t think twice about firing Willie Taggart after two seasons if 2019 is a total mess.

This brings us to Saturday in Charlottesville.

Florida State should never be an underdog to Virginia in ACC football. Yet, it is.

Florida State should never be viewed as a team which could potentially get blown out by Virginia. Yet, it could be.

Florida State should never be the program facing more doubts and more questions in a matchup with Virginia. Yet, it is.

It’s really very simple: Either Florida State plants its feet in the sand, steadies itself, and totally reshapes the direction of its season… or it will lose.

If Florida State somehow plays a great game yet loses in the end, maybe we can revisit this conversation, but if the Seminoles are anything less than very good in Week 3, and they get tagged with a second loss in three games, Willie Taggart will be staring at a quick end to his tenure.

Overreaction? I don’t think so.

The elites of college football in years gone by are on the run these days in America. Florida State is right there with them.

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