HomeTrending TopicsWillie Taggart’s Nightmare Opener Places His Florida State Tenure at an Early Crossroads – Sports activities Illustrated
Posted in Trending Topics on 4th September 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — You’re about to learn three quotes from offense-oriented faculty soccer head coaches who misplaced debut video games. See in case you can guess the identities of every coach.

Coach No. 1: “It’s not a state of affairs the place you scrap what you do otherwise you throw a match and yell and scream and all these issues. A number of it was a byproduct that they’re soccer crew.”

Coach No. 2: “We are able to right a number of the issues that occurred right this moment. We had too many penalties. We went actually sloppy there after we had gotten off to a reasonably clear begin. We are able to right that sort of factor.”

Coach No. three: “I have a look at it as a recreation towards soccer crew. We’ve bought to play a lot better. We performed a sloppy recreation. That’s on all of us—beginning with me. We’ve bought to do a greater job.”

Right here’s a touch. You see the dateline on this column, so you recognize considered one of these coaches is Florida State’s Willie Taggart, whose debut Monday night time was an unmitigated catastrophe. The Seminoles misplaced 24–three to Virginia Tech, and Taggart’s vaunted Gulf Coast offense seemed prefer it was being run in mud. (Despite the fact that it really outgained Virginia Tech’s offense.) The Hokies received the sector place recreation, received on particular groups and racked up 13 tackles for loss—negating practically each optimistic Florida State play with not less than one destructive play. “We did precisely what we preach to not do,” Taggart stated Monday night time.

Taggart is Coach No. three. And as dangerous as Taggart’s offense seemed Monday, it didn’t match the ineptitude of Coach No. 1’s debut. This coach’s up-tempo scheme rolled up 152 yards, averaged three.5 yards a play and made solely six first downs in a 19–eight street loss. That coach’s title? Chip Kelly. You most likely don’t bear in mind how terrible Kelly’s offense was in his first recreation as Oregon’s head coach as a result of LeGarrette Blount sucker-punched Boise State’s Byron Hout, and that’s all anybody wished to speak about after the sport. (Till Kelly despatched a fan a refund for his street journey.)

Coach No. 2 really had some offensive success in that first recreation. His group gained 445 yards and averaged 5.7 yards a play. However his crew misplaced 33–28 after its underdog opponent related on a Hail Mary as time expired. His title? Mike Riley. In Riley’s first recreation at Nebraska, BYU surprised the Cornhuskers with a 42-yard bomb from Tanner Mangum to Mitch Mathews.

Within the aftermath of Monday’s debacle, Taggart should resolve who he needs to be: Kelly or Riley?

Kelly’s offense was abysmal in his debut, however the 2009 Geese would lose just one extra regular-season recreation (51–42 to Jim Harbaugh’s Stanford crew). They’d win the Pac-10 that season and play within the Rose Bowl. Kelly would go on to go 46–7 at Oregon with three convention titles in 4 seasons. 

Riley, in the meantime by no means actually did purge the sloppiness from the Huskers’ program. Throughout his tenure, Riley’s Nebraska groups at all times appeared a notch or two under the perfect of the Large Ten when it comes to preparation and execution. Finally, that caught as much as Riley and he was fired on the finish of season three.

Taggart has a saying that he cribbed from an outdated coach at Western Kentucky. Whereas most individuals would bid a good friend goodbye by saying “Have a terrific day,” Taggart bids gamers and colleagues goodbye by saying “Have a terrific day if you wish to.”

Now Taggart has to resolve what he needs to do.

He can select to go both the Kelly route or the Riley route. Taggart got here to Florida State after just one season at Oregon as a result of Florida State is his dream job and—because the Seminoles have had precisely two head coaches since 1976—he wasn’t certain if it will ever open once more in his working life. But when he didn’t comprehend it already, Taggart realized Monday spear on the helmet ensures neither success nor even respectability. Every needs to be earned, which suggests the true work begins Tuesday.

The Florida State job is much less like Taggart’s first two head-coaching stops (Western Kentucky and South Florida) and extra just like the Oregon job. Sure, the Seminoles struggled in 2017 after beginning quarterback Deondre Francois went down for the yr within the season opener and coach Jimbo Fisher flirted with the Texas A&M job, which he finally left Florida State to take. However the Seminoles should not a complete intestine job like Western Kentucky and USF have been. They’ve the expertise to win now. They only didn’t appear to be it Monday. Oregon was in an analogous place when Taggart bought there. Mark Helfrich had been fired after a four–eight season, however there have been nonetheless gamers on the roster who had been on a crew that received the Pac-12 and reached the nationwide title recreation. Taggart engineered a three-win enchancment in yr one earlier than he was supplied the job he simply couldn’t refuse.

Now Taggart must show he can deal with an elite job. He has a proficient roster that fractured final season, and he can’t let that occur once more. “Now we have to remain collectively,” middle Alec Eberle stated Monday night time. “Y’all know in addition to I do this final yr, when instances bought powerful, we separated as a crew.”

After Eberle spoke, quarterback Deondre Francois, ice baggage on each knees, slowly lowered himself into the identical chair and expressed an analogous sentiment. “We’re going to see what kind of crew we’re,” Francois stated. “We’re not going to interrupt up like we did final yr. We’re going to stay collectively.”

Instances appeared particularly powerful Monday. Virginia Tech coordinator Bud Foster’s protection flummoxed Florida State’s linemen and talent place gamers by routinely shifting a split-second earlier than the snap. A Bear entrance may immediately morph right into a four–2, and gamers working their offense for the primary time weren’t certain how you can alter their assignments to compensate for the change. This isn’t the primary time Foster’s protection has pissed off an up-tempo crew, after all. The 2014 Ohio State crew that finally received the nationwide title seemed helpless towards the Hokies’ protection in September of that season.

The half that’s hardest to swallow for the Seminoles is that the shift to this offense was purported to take some strain off a line that struggled within the ultimate few seasons of Fisher’s tenure. The way in which this offense spreads the sector—wider than anybody besides Syracuse and Tulsa—and the tempo ought to make blocking simpler. The protection primarily has to declare primarily based on positioning if it can give attention to the run or the cross, and if the quarterback chooses accurately, the offense ought to have both a numbers benefit within the run recreation or one-on-one matchups within the cross recreation.

So why did Florida State solely have 15 speeding yards on its first 24 carries Monday? (Cam Akers made the speeding stats look respectable with an 85-yard run, however he was within the arms of a Virginia Tech defender on the line of scrimmage on that play and broke free. Akers’s different 13 carries mixed for a three-yard loss.) Maybe it’s as a result of Virginia Tech by no means needed to fear in regards to the quarterback as a runner.

One of many vital methods this offense has harassed defenses up to now is by forcing defenders to respect the likelihood that the quarterback might preserve the ball and run. At USF, Quinton Flowers stored it often and shredded defenses. At Oregon, Justin Herbert relied extra on his NFL-caliber arm, however he carried out each pretend and took off when a good state of affairs offered itself. That stored defenses sincere.

Monday, Francois by no means seemed like a menace to run. This wasn’t due to any worry on Francois’s half. Within the first half, he was working downfield and throwing blocks for receivers. He’s by no means been afraid to combine it up bodily. It seemed extra like a strategic choice. Francois, who missed most of final season after a knee harm suffered within the season opener towards Alabama, was solely cleared for full contact final month. Possibly he isn’t fairly able to be unleashed as a real twin menace. If so, higher opposing defenses may feast on an offense that solely has two of its three common choices on every play.

Taggart stated sophomore James Blackman was accessible Monday night time, however he by no means considered utilizing him. Blackman began rather than Francois final season. He wasn’t able to run considered one of faculty soccer’s most complicated offenses after just a few months on campus, however he made the perfect of it. However the velocity with which Taggart introduced Francois because the starter after Francois was lastly cleared to play suggests Francois outplayed Blackman at apply to the purpose that Francois felt like the one choice. Complicating issues was the departure final week of redshirt freshman Bailey Hockman, who competed towards Francois and Blackman in camp. Monday, Chris Nee of 247Sports activities reported that Hockman will play this season for Hutchinson (Kan.) Group School. If there ever was a plan to attempt to redshirt Blackman, it evaporated when Hockman left.

Because the Seminoles left the sector Monday, one other doubtlessly main problem loomed. Proper sort out Landon Dickerson limped into the tunnel, treading gingerly on what seemed like a bum ankle. One of many areas Taggart wants to repair is sort out depth, however that isn’t one thing that may be executed by a coach who arrived in December. That takes time, and if Dickerson is out for any prolonged interval, the Seminoles may wrestle much more up entrance. Not that the gamers intend to make use of accidents as an excuse. “We’re Division I athletes,” Eberle stated. “We’re all on scholarship right here. We should always be capable to put anybody in they usually can do the job.”

Taggart, in the meantime, must show he can do the job. Till Monday, he had executed all the things proper. He had infused this system with positivity following an overwhelmingly destructive yr. He had embraced all of the issues Fisher had shunned. Certainly one of Fisher’s chief complaints in his ultimate seasons was that the booster membership—which makes all of the essential choices in Florida State’s athletic division—had elected to spend cash on Doak Campbell Stadium upgrades as a substitute of on a devoted soccer operations constructing. Sunday night time, Florida State introduced a $ 100 million capital marketing campaign for athletics that features $ 60 million for that operations constructing. Taggart kicked off the drive by donating $ 1 million of his personal cash.

Taggart has confirmed to be a deft political operator, however he realized Monday how far political capital goes when the offense can’t convert third-and-seven. Riley had everybody in Lincoln consuming out of his palm till it grew to become clear that Ohio State and Nebraska have been taking part in two totally different sports activities. Kelly, in the meantime, turned across the Geese so shortly after that first hiccup that he wound up getting practically all the things he wished in Eugene.

Taggart has to determine which path he’ll observe. Will he emulate Kelly, who shortly corrected the errors of a disastrous opener and took Oregon to the highest of the game? Or will he emulate Riley, who let the problems fester till Nebraska’s administration determined they wanted another person to repair them?

That’s completely as much as Taggart. Even after a gap night time from hell, he can nonetheless have a terrific profession at Florida State.

If he needs to.

A Random Rating

Aretha Franklin was laid to relaxation this previous weekend. In her honor, listed here are my 10 favourite Aretha songs.

1. “Assume”
2. “Respect”
three. “I Say A Little Prayer”
four. “Chain Of Fools”
5. “(You Make Me Really feel Like) A Pure Girl”
6. “One thing He Can Really feel”
7. “Do Proper Girl-Do Proper Man”
eight. “Wonderful Grace”
9. “You’re All I Want To Get By”
10. “I Knew You Had been Ready (with George Michael)”

Projected Playoff

On this part, we’ll use what we’ve seen to date this season to foretell how the playoff committee will seed the bracket. This received’t at all times match the highest 4 of the Prime Ten Plus One which I publish after every week of video games. Whereas that may be a pure energy rating, this takes under consideration schedules and convention dynamics together with different elements that have an effect on playoff choice/seeding. That stated, this week’s matches the highest 4 from Saturday night time’s column precisely. However count on the rankings in each items to fluctuate wildly within the first few weeks and develop into extra constant as extra knowledge factors arrive.

1. Alabama (1–zero)
Final week: Beat Louisville, 51–14
This week: vs. Arkansas State

Wait, the Crimson Tide have the same old death-dealing protection and may additionally have a dynamic offense led by a quarterback who can beat groups deep with regularity? Gulp.

2. Ohio State (1–zero)
Final week: Beat Oregon State, 77–31
This week: vs. Rutgers

The Buckeyes are going give Large Ten defenses hell this season. Certain, it was simply Oregon State, however QB Dwayne Haskins was ruthlessly environment friendly. He averaged 10.four yards per try and threw 5 landing passes with no interceptions. In the meantime, Ohio State rushers averaged 7.1 yards a carry. We’ll nonetheless must see how this offense fares towards TCU in Week three to get an thought of the way it will look towards higher defenses, however the Buckeyes have a plethora of weapons.

three. Oklahoma (1–zero)
Final week: Beat Florida Atlantic, 63–14
This week: vs. UCLA

Fundamental likelihood dictates that Oklahoma’s offense received’t be nearly as good because it was final season as a result of Baker Mayfield had top-of-the-line seasons a university quarterback has ever had, however the Sooners certain seemed as in the event that they hadn’t misplaced a beat whereas shelling a crew that received 11 video games final yr and returned a good portion of its protection. UCLA coach Chip Kelly hasn’t misplaced back-to-back video games in the identical season as a university head coach. That streak most likely ends Saturday when the Bruins go to Norman.

four. Clemson (1–zero)
Final week: Beat Furman, 48–7
This week: at Texas A&M

The Tigers may make a transfer on this rating in the event that they roll at Kyle Discipline. However new Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher may be very accustomed to Clemson’s personnel, so the Aggies may make it powerful on Clemson. The large query isn’t who will begin at quarterback for the Tigers—it’s going to be Kelly Bryant and Trevor Lawrence goes to play—however who finishes. If one man takes all of the second-half snaps, it’s fairly potential he’s the man.

Large Ugly of the Week

In 2013, defensive sort out Kenny Bigelow was a five-star recruit who may have gone anyplace. He selected USC, and whereas he bought a level from a wonderful faculty, accidents derailed the soccer portion of his time in Los Angeles. After final season, he determined to retire from soccer. He modified his thoughts shortly after, and now Bigelow is a graduate switch taking part in his ultimate season at West Virginia, and the previous highschool teammate of Mountaineers receiver David Sills V could also be precisely what West Virginia wanted to shore up a protection that struggled final season. Each of Bigelow’s tackles in Saturday’s 40–14 win towards Tennessee have been for loss, however that doesn’t even come near explaining how he affected Tennessee’s offense. With Bigelow caving within the within the Volunteers’ line play after play, Tennessee struggled to seek out any offensive rhythm.

Three And Out

1. Texas coach Tom Herman defined the primary quarter of Saturday’s 34–29 loss to Maryland—which noticed the Terrapins take a 14–7 lead that will stretch to 24–7 halfway by way of the second—with … John Steinbeck?

“Yesterday we have been speaking about it, and [Texas linebacker Gary Johnson] had by no means learn Of Mice and Males. I advised him he must learn Of Mice and Males. It was sort of Lenny with the rabbit and with George, proper? That Lenny wished so badly to the touch the rabbit and play with the rabbit, and he squeezed it so onerous, he killed the rabbit.

“I do know that appears possibly on the market a little bit bit, however I believe that’s what the primary quarter was. We wished it so badly that we bought in our personal manner fairly a bit, and that’s correctible. That additionally signifies that whenever you endure a setback just like the one which we did, your locker room continues to be very sturdy, and all people nonetheless believes in what we’ve spent the final yr and a half creating and constructing right here.”

Texas did come again from that deficit to finally take a 29–24 lead within the third quarter, however the Longhorns allowed 10 fourth-quarter factors and turned the ball over on their ultimate two possessions.

In the meantime, OrangeBloods.com author Anwar Richardson supplied a a lot much less literary clarification for the distinction between the Texas offense within the first quarter and in the remainder of the sport.

2. The Large Ten Community has indefinitely suspended Braylon Edwards for a tweet the previous Michigan receiver despatched Saturday shortly after the Wolverines’ loss at Notre Dame. The since-deleted tweet criticized Michigan middle Cesar Ruiz and quarterback Shea Patterson in addition to the offensive line play typically. “Michigan soccer is unfortunately one factor…….Trash,” Edwards wrote on the finish of the tweet.

Monday, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh responded to these feedback by asking that every one criticism be directed at him.

“Primary, to begin with, it’s not true. It’s not factual,” Harbaugh advised reporters. “There’s no person in our program who thinks these issues about any participant on our crew, not to mention the 2 gamers he describes. On the opposite stage, it’s disappointing member of the Large Ten Community would select to assault the character to our gamers. It’s disappointing. If another person needs to assault the character of anyone on our ball membership, come after me.”

On Monday, Edwards despatched a tweet apology to Ruiz and to Patterson, however Edwards didn’t again off his criticism of this system.

three. You don’t must go to Las Vegas to guess legally on faculty soccer anymore. SI’s Ross Dellenger spent Saturday on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, the place the sports activities books count on fall Saturdays to be a lot larger than fall Sundays.

What’s Consuming Andy?

Boise State debuted the best turnover prop in Saturday’s 56–20 win at Troy: the turnover throne.

Now I simply must persuade SI to create lede throne.

What’s Andy Consuming?

Of all of the meals I’m hooked on, Brussels sprouts are the healthiest. Now, the best way most eating places put together them lately is decidedly much less wholesome. They’re coated in oil and bacon and cheese and all method of goodness, however I’d be blissful to eat them roasted within the oven with a light-weight dusting of salt, pepper and olive oil. However in case you’ve bought bacon and balsamic vinegar, by all means, cowl these sprouts.

The outline of the Clay’s Sprouts appetizer at Tallahassee’s Backwoods Bistro contained all the same old sprouts accoutrement—bacon, roasted almonds, parmesan, feta and honey. However it additionally contained one thing referred to as Beast Sauce, which I assumed can be one thing widespread. Often, when a spot slaps the “particular” moniker on a sauce, it’s some model of Thousand Island dressing. That will be disgusting on sprouts—largely as a result of Thousand Island is disgusting on something—so I figured Beast Sauce have to be one thing else. So I did some investigatory journalism (I requested the bartender) and realized it’s simply what Backwoods Bistro calls its Buffalo sauce.

Now I used to be intrigued. Buffalo sauce and sprouts? When a tray of sprouts the scale of a small gondola arrived, there was no discernible Buffalo sauce. And after I bit down right into a bacon-covered sprout, I didn’t style Buffalo sauce. What I tasted as a substitute was a mix of the Buffalo sauce and honey, which created a spicy-sweet combo that paired properly with all of the savory flavors that had turned my once-healthy appetizer into one thing decadent.

That large tray of sprouts most likely would have sufficed as a meal, however I couldn’t resist ordering the Seminole Chop, a large hunk of bone-in pork loin that comes coated by a parmesan-herb crust and using atop a mattress of stone-ground cheddar grits. Bone-in chops may be powerful typically, and pork loin can dry out. However this one was tender and juicy, and I struggled to complete as a result of I’d already eaten what felt like a number of kilos of sprouts.

This was an evening to drink dessert, and Backwoods Bistro had an ideal choice. The Outdated Usual & Southern combines the same old makings of an Outdated Usual (with Bulleit Rye for the whiskey and peach-flavored bitters) with candy tea and lemon. The flavour profile of candy tea matches completely with whiskey anyway, and this addition made an already easy drink even smoother. Just like the candy tea–flavored vodkas, this goes down really easy that it may get a drinker in bother if he’s not cautious.

I practiced moderation. But when I hadn’t, I might have simply soaked all of it up with one other boatload of sprouts.

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