2018 Florida State Seminoles Fan Forum
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Thread: 2018 Florida State Seminoles Fan Forum

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    2018 Florida State Seminoles Fan Forum


    ACC RECORD: 3-5




    Last edited by Ratpenat; 24-11-2018 at 22:31.

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    2018 Florida State Seminoles Football Preview

    The man found a home. Now let’s see what he can do.

    Willie Taggart is a great builder and rebuilder of programs, and he’s a phenomenal recruiter. But Florida State just hired a guy who has yet to win a conference championship, hasn’t won a bowl game, and has a losing record in his eight seasons as a head coach.

    But he hasn’t been around a job long enough – there’s never faulting a talented young head coach for going on to a better gig – to enjoy the fruits of his labor, taking off just before the fun started to kick in.

    Charlie Strong went 10-2 at USF last year and took down the Birmingham Bowl – that could’ve been Taggart’s team.

    Jeff Brohm won three bowl games and two straight Conference USA titles right after Taggart left for USF.

    And now it’s up to Taggart to take what Jimbo Fisher built and make it even better – even if last year wasn’t up to normal Florida State snuff.

    As bad as things went, the Noles had chances in close call losses to NC State, Miami and Louisville that easily could’ve gone the other way. Instead, FSU went an unacceptable 7-6 and had to rally just to go bowling.

    Fisher inherited a 7-6 team, too, when he took over in 2010, and unlike Taggart, he didn’t have any head coaching experience. But he went 10-4 in his first season and got the Noles to the ACC title game.

    Fair or not, there’s the bar. It’s Florida State. It’s not supposed to go 7-6, and even if this year’s team is just okay, and even with a brutal schedule, and even with Clemson looking like a juggernaut, FSU is supposed to win the ACC title every year.

    But first, Taggart needs to get time to settle in, enjoy the idea that this might just be a destination gig, and then win a national title or three.


    There are still way, way, WAY too many moving parts to push for anything massive this year, starting with a beaten up offensive line that wasn’t close to being ready for primetime this spring.

    The quarterback situation is still up in the air, the receiving corps doesn’t have a whole lot of sure things, and the pro-style players have to adjust to a new spread offense world.

    The defense has to replace some of the best defensive backs in college football – there’s no replacing Derwin James – the starting linebacking corps from the end of last year is gone or hurt, and the D line lost two excellent parts in Josh Sweat and Derrick Nnadi.

    But after a few years of will-he-or-won’t-he-leave with Fisher, now the program has its guy. Now it has its direction going forward. Now it has its stability for the foreseeable future.

    And now, Taggart has his home. And now he has to win something, too.

    What You Need To Know About The Florida State Offense

    – Offensive coordinator Walt Bell comes in from Maryland, but this is Willie Taggart’s offense and style. Get ready for a spread attack with speed, tempo, and doing everything possible to keep defenses on their heels.

    However, none of this works or goes anywhere if the line isn’t far, far better. The Noles were overwhelmed way too often, getting blown past time and again by anyone who wanted to get into the backfield, while not doing nearly enough for the ground game.

    Four starters are back – C Alec Eberle is the best of the bunch – but health is a big deal, and developed depth will be an issue early on. The new coaching staff won’t be able to implement all they’ll want to do until the projected starting parts are back and healthy this fall.

    – The running backs are among the best in college football. The ground attack will lead the way under the new staff, and FSU has a good group of talents to get it done.

    Cam Akers and Jacques Patrick form a fantastic 1-2 punch that combined for close to 1,800 yards and 14 scores, even with spotty help from the line. Redshirt freshman Khalan Laborn was a stat this offseason, and Amir Rasul can fly – this is a deep, deep group.

    – Yeah … the quarterback situation is a question mark. There’s experience, but can anyone actually play? The rail-thin James Blackman was okay in his true freshman season, but he threw too many picks and doesn’t offer the running ability Taggart likes.

    Deondre Francois has to get back healthy from the knee injury suffered in the opener against Alabama, but if he’s back to normal, bet on him to be the guy. Bailey Hockman is at least getting his shot, but it’s Blackman as the No. 1 going into the fall and Francois 1A.

    Now they need someone to throw to.

    Big Auden Tate is gone, along with TE Ryan Izzo, but Nyqwan Murray led the team in receiving yards, George Campbell is good when healthy, and spring star Tamorrion Terry is a great-looking young option with No. 1 target potential.

    Biggest Key To The Florida State Offense

    Seriously, FSU. Block someone. The running backs are sensational, but the passing game is iffy, and overall, the talented parts aren’t quite the exact fits for what Taggart might like for his spread attack.

    These are pro-style players who mostly came to FSU to play in a pro system, and now that gets tweaked a bit. However, there’s more than enough in place to succeed right away, and it doesn’t matter if the O line plays like it did last season.

    The blocking has actually been a problem over the last few years, but it became more pronounced last year after Francois went down. Injuries, inconsistencies, and poor play throughout the season killed what turned out to be the second-least productive attack in the ACC.

    What You Need To Know About The Florida State Defense

    – Start with the defensive front, and go from there. Derrick Nnadi and Josh Sweat are gone from the line, but the return of Demarcus Christmas on the inside and Brian Burns at one end form the foundation of the defense.

    The pass rush was just okay, and there weren’t enough plays in the backfield by ACC standards, but it’ll be a loaded line that should dominate by the end of the season.

    – As always, there are plenty of good athletes and promising options at linebacker, but leading tackler Matthew Thomas and middle man Ro’Derrick Hoskins are done, and Emmett Rice is trying to come back from a knee injury.

    It’s going to be a smaller group – with Adonis Thomas likely taking over one outside spot and Dontavious Jackson about to step up in the middle – but it’ll move. Jackson will be fantastic with a little time, and this will hardly be a weakness, but it will be an area to work on.

    – No matter how good your recruiting classes and how great your reputation, you take a step back no matter what if your secondary loses Derwin James, Nate Andrews, Tarvarus McFadden and Trey Marshall.

    But it is Florida State, and it is always able to load up with more all-star defensive back talent. Levonta Taylor is a keeper at one corner, and Stanford Samuels can play just about anywhere. It might take a little bit, but superstar recruit Jaiden Woodbey has everything there to be the next great Seminole defensive back.

    Biggest Key To The Florida State Defense

    Start taking the ball away again. There’s no excuse for a defense with as much tremendous talent as last year’s FSU D had to only come up with 15 takeaways. It was a tough first half of the season for big plays, taking the ball away a mere six times in the first eight games.

    The pass rush was okay, but not amazing, and it would be an easy excuse to say the team checked out after the lousy start, but the takeaways started to come over the second half of the ACC season.

    This year’s D under Harlon Barnett – who’s knows how to get teams to generate takeaways during his time coaching the Michigan State defensive backs – should do far more.

    Best Florida State Offensive Player

    RB Cam Akers, Soph.
    Last year’s super-recruit didn’t quite blow up, but considering all of the team’s issues, 1,025 yards and seven touchdowns was a terrific debut. The 5-11, 213-pounder has good hands, decent power, and phenomenal quickness, tearing off 199 yards and two scores against Syracuse and hitting Miami for a 121-yard day.

    He won’t have to do it all with 235-pound Jacques Patrick ready to handle a bulk of the load, but with better blocking, get ready for a massive year.

    2. RB Jacques Patrick, Sr.
    3. C Alec Eberle, Sr.
    4. QB Deondre Francois, Jr.
    5. QB James Blackman, Soph.

    Best Florida State Defensive Player

    DE Brian Burns, Jr.
    After exploding for 9.5 sacks as a freshman, he was expected to play at an unstoppable, All-American level – and he didn’t. He was fine – making 48 tackles with 4.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss – but he didn’t rip it up. Get ready for the big season to kick in now, with a little bit of added bulk and the look of a guy destined for double-digit sacks – and a salary drive.

    Phenomenally quick, the 6-5, 231-pounder is long, has a great first step, and could grow into the sort of hybrid type who makes a whole lot of money at the next level. But he has to produce on a consistent basis first.

    2. DT Demarcus Christmas, Sr.
    3. CB Levonta Taylor, Jr.
    4. S A.J. Westbrook, Sr.
    5. S Jaiden Woodbey, Fr.

    Key Player To A Successful Season

    QB Deondre Francois, Jr.
    Or James Blackman. The entire offensive line is actually the key to FSU’s season – it has to be far, far stronger – but the Noles need high-end quarterback play, too.

    It’s been forgotten a bit in everything that’s happened on and off the field over the last year how good Francois was as a freshman, throwing for 3,350 yards and 20 scores with just seven picks. Blackman was fine, but he threw for over 1,000-fewer yards and didn’t offer anything running the ball like Francois can – when he’s healthy.

    It’ll be an interesting fall camp.

    Key Game To The Florida State Season

    Virginia Tech, Sept. 3
    It seems like these should have played each other more, but they haven’t met since 2012. Before that, they hadn’t battled all that often after the 2000 Sugar Bowl for the national title.

    This year, it’s the season opener and more than just a tone-setter as it kicks off the ACC race. Considering how it crumbled after last year’s opening day loss to Alabama, FSU needs this.

    With the schedule it has ahead, forget about any CFP dreams with a loss to the Hokies.
    Last edited by Ratpenat; 22-08-2018 at 23:57.

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    Game 1: Fsu vs. Virginia tech preview

    The Hokies and Seminoles meet on Monday night in Tallahassee.

    Virginia Tech and Florida State close out Week 1 of the 2018 college football season with a Saturday night clash in Tallahassee. The ACC has been involved in its share of intriguing matchups on Labor Day, including last year’s thriller between Georgia Tech and Tennessee in Atlanta, Florida State’s comeback victory over Ole Miss in 2016 and the Virginia Tech-Ohio State game in ’15.

    Florida State experienced its share of bad luck last season. The Seminoles were expected to contend for a CFB Playoff bid but lost quarterback Deondre Francois to a season-ending injury in the fourth quarter in the opener against Alabama. True freshman James Blackman was pressed into the starting job with Francois sidelined and played well in his first year on campus. However, the air out of Florida State’s national title hopes quickly evaporated after Francois’ injury, and this team never recovered. In addition to the setback on offense, rumors about Jimbo Fisher’s future and interest in the Texas A&M job circulated late in the season. Fisher eventually took the job in College Station, but Florida State landed the right replacement in Willie Taggart. The Florida native is bringing a different style of play (spread up-tempo attack) to the offense, but a fresh start should help this program get back to contending for double-digit victories once again.

    Justin Fuente has guided Virginia Tech to 19 wins over the last two years and another season of at least nine victories is certainly within reach once again. Following a standout freshman season, quarterback Josh Jackson returns to anchor the offense. Jackson is surrounded by a young supporting cast, but under the tutelage of Fuente, the sophomore is poised to rank among the top quarterbacks in the ACC. Virginia Tech’s defense is in rebuild mode with just four returning starters, but there’s not a ton of concern about this unit. That’s due to defensive coordinator Bud Foster, who continually reloads this group and keeps it among the best in college football. Despite the turnover on defense and uncertainty at the skill spots, a favorable schedule should keep this team near the top of the Coastal Division.

    Florida State holds a 23-12-1 series edge over Virginia Tech. The last meeting between these two teams took place in 2012. Additionally, the Hokies and Seminoles have met five times as members of the ACC, with two of those matchups taking place in the conference title game.

    Three Things to Watch

    1. Florida State QB Deondre Francois

    Prior to the 2017 season, all signs pointed to Francois emerging as one of the top quarterbacks in the ACC. As a redshirt freshman the previous year, Francois threw for 3,350 yards and 20 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. He also added 196 yards and five scores on the ground. However, Francois suffered a season-ending knee injury in the opener against Alabama and was forced to miss the rest of the 2017 season.

    New coach Willie Taggart pushed Francois this offseason, and the junior responded by earning the top spot on the depth chart over James Blackman and Bailey Hockman. Francois is the best all-around fit for Taggart’s offense, but his knee and mobility will be tested right away in this offense on Monday night.

    As with any coaching transition and scheme shift, there will be some ups and downs and learning curves. Will Florida State encounter any of those moments on Monday night? And how fast can Francois knock off the rust after not playing in a regular season game since Sept. 2, 2017?

    In addition to Francois, the Seminoles need more out of their receiving corps. Senior Nyqwan Murray and junior Keith Gavin are the most-experienced options, but keep an eye on sophomore D.J. Matthews and freshmen Keyshawn Helton, Ontaria Wilson, Tre’Shaun Harrison and Warren Thompson.

    2. Virginia Tech’s Rebuilt Defense

    As mentioned above, Virginia Tech’s defense is a unit in transition for 2018. Coordinator Bud Foster returns only four starters and has new faces stepping into more playing time at every level.

    As if the overall turnover from last season wasn’t enough, starting linemen Vinny Mihota and Trevon Hill are dealing with injuries and uncertainty surrounds their status for Monday night. Tackle Ricky Walker is the unit’s top player and is likely to create havoc against Florida State’s offensive line. However, his job will be a little tougher if Hill and Mihota are limited or unable to go, allowing the Seminoles to focus more on the middle of the line. Virginia Tech’s back seven features a handful of promising players, including cornerbacks Bryce Watts and Caleb Farley, rover Reggie Floyd, safety Divine Deablo and whip Khalil Ladler.

    While talent and coaching isn’t an issue, the Hokies’ rebuilt unit will have their hands full against Florida State’s offense on Monday night. In addition to the new up-tempo attack, Taggart has one of the nation’s top running backs (Cam Akers) at his disposal. Akers rushed for over 1,000 yards as a true freshman in 2017 and is poised to see more touches in ’18. He’s joined by Jacques Patrick in the backfield, forming one of the top tandems at running back in college football.

    With Florida State expected to run more plays than it has in previous years, Virginia Tech will likely have to rotate in more defenders to keep its defense fresh in the fourth quarter. The Hokies aren’t short on talent, but for a unit already breaking in seven new starters, the depth will be tested. How quickly will Foster get this defense performing at a high level?

    3. Virginia Tech’s Offense

    Quarterback Josh Jackson is the catalyst for Fuente’s offense. As a redshirt freshman last fall, Jackson averaged 255 total yards a game and connected on 59.6 percent of his passes. The sophomore earned second-team All-ACC honors by Athlon Sports for 2018 and is among the top 25 quarterbacks in college football.

    With another full offseason to work as the starter, the Hokies need Jackson to take the next step in his development. But improvement on offense isn’t riding solely on Jackson’s right arm and mobility. The sophomore’s supporting cast has potential but is unsettled going into 2018. Receiver Cam Phillips expired his eligibility, leaving Sean Savoy (39 catches) and Eric Kumah (28) as the team’s top returning options in the passing game. Savoy isn’t listed as a starter for Monday night’s game, with sophomore Hezekiah Grimsley edging him for a starting job, and Ball State transfer Damon Hazelton rounding out the starting trio with Kumah. Hazelton is a potential impact addition for Jackson after catching 51 passes for 505 yards at Ball State in 2016.

    Virginia Tech’s offensive line should be strong but more is needed out of the ground game. The Hokies ranked seventh in the ACC in rush offense last season and returns leading rusher Deshawn McClease (530). Fuente will likely utilize a committee of backs, with McClease penciled in as the starter, and Steven Peoples and Jalen Holston rounding out the top options.

    The mission for Florida State’s defense on Monday night is pretty simple: Contain Jackson and make the Virginia Tech skill players win the game. New coordinator Harlon Barnett has plenty of talent to work with, including standout cornerback Levonta Taylor and linemen Brian Burns and Demarcus Christmas.

    Can Jackson carry the Virginia Tech offense all night? Or will the sophomore get enough help from his supporting cast?
    Last edited by Ratpenat; 03-09-2018 at 23:15.

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    "The Expectation" by Willie Taggert (From Players Tribune)

    There’s a moment every morning when it all kind of hits me, when I really appreciate that this is actually happening.

    It occurs during my morning commute. On my drive in to the facility, I usually have a million thoughts racing through my mind about what I want to accomplish that day. But there’s one brief moment when all of that fades away: It’s when I first see Doak Campbell Stadium appear on the horizon. On a clear, sunny day there really isn’t any view better than that. I still get chills every time.

    One of my greatest life goals has been to represent Florida State. And even though the decision to take this opportunity was more difficult than I could have imagined, whenever I see that stadium come into view … I know I’m right where I belong.

    I grew up as the youngest in a family of diehard Noles fans, so it’s only natural that I followed suit.

    It wasn’t just my family that followed the team. Growing up in Palmetto, Florida, I was always surrounded by Noles fans. I still remember watching FSU play Miami on a tiny portable TV after one of my Little League games when I was just a kid. This was in the late 1980s when that rivalry was really elevated to a different level. It was truly an amazing time to be a Noles fan living in Florida. I couldn’t even begin to describe it properly if I tried, you just had to be there.

    I was always wearing the gear, doing the cheers, watching the games — it was always an event for my family. It didn’t matter that none of us had ever attended FSU or even set foot on campus, much less inside Doak Campbell — that program still meant something to us. Florida State was our team.

    Thing is, initially the admiration wasn’t exactly mutual.

    I played high school football at Manatee High, where I was coached by Joe Kinnan, who played at Florida State. I was a pretty good player — from a young age, football was the only thing I ever wanted to do — and throughout my high school career I dreamed that Coach Bowden might one day call me into his office and offer me a scholarship to play at FSU. Seriously, that’s where my mind would wander when I daydreamed as a teenager. But unfortunately that moment never came for me (although I like to tell Coach that we’d have won a couple more national championships if it had). So early on it was clear that if I wanted to fulfill my dream of being Nole, I’d need to find another way in.

    It was around my junior year at Western Kentucky that I concluded I wanted to pursue a career in coaching.

    A big inspiration for that was Jack Harbaugh, who some might know as Jim and John’s dad. When I was first recruited by Western Kentucky — actually by Jim, who I would later work for at Stanford — I was far from a choir boy. I had a passion for football and what it could provide for me and my family, but I lacked the focus and direction I needed to accomplish those goals.

    Jack Harbaugh helped change that.

    I was a four-year starter at quarterback, and throughout my time there, Jack changed my entire approach to football. He opened my eyes to so many facets of the game I’d never been exposed to. I’m not just talking in terms of the position I played, but also the intricacies of how things worked at every other position on the field. He developed me as a quarterback and as an overall football mind. And I gave everything I had to him because I could tell that he cared about me. He showed that in a bunch of different ways. Sometimes (a decent amount of the time) that meant tough love. You didn’t want to disappoint Jack, because he would absolutely lay into you. You might think Jim is intense, but let me tell you, if Jack really got on you, he could make you melt. I’ll always remember my freshman year when I missed a tutoring appointment — not even a class, just a meeting with a tutor — and Jack screamed at me as if I’d blown the biggest game of the season.

    And guess what, I never missed another tutoring appointment.

    The biggest thing I learned from being around the Harbaughs was that while there’s a lot of thought and strategy that goes into leading a football team, the most important aspect of the job is understanding how to motivate young men. You need to have a sincerity and forcefulness that engenders respect and makes your players want to sacrifice for you and each other. That’s how you mold a great athlete into a great football player. That was the kind of coach I wanted to be.

    After pursuing a few assistant coaching jobs and internships around the country, my first opportunity as a head coach ended up being at Western Kentucky in 2010. When I returned to the program, a lot had changed. The discipline and attitude that had won us championships was gone, and the team was on a 20-game losing streak. Twenty games. Getting to coach at my alma mater, a school i truly loved, was an amazing opportunity. But at the same time, just thinking about the challenge I was walking into led to a lot of sleepless nights. What I learned that first year was something that would be true of every other program I’ve taken over since: There are no shortcuts. There’s no magic formula that results in winning. It’s about building a foundation by knowing when to speak, but especially when to listen.

    Our 20-game losing streak stretched to 26 before we finally won a game. But we won a game. That wasn’t our overall goal, but it was a start — a foundation. The following year, we had a winning record. And in the years since I left, as a proud former player and coach, I’m happy to say that the Hilltoppers have had many more winning seasons.

    When I got into coaching, the goal was to take it as far as a could and be the kind of mentor that I needed as a young man.

    The dream though?

    The dream was to coach at Florida State.

    The night before I made the decision to take the Florida State job, I was torn over whether to go through with it.

    I didn’t move my family away from Florida to stay in Oregon for only one season. That doesn’t make sense. But I also never, in my wildest dreams, figured the opportunity to become the head coach at Florida State — a job only two other people had occupied in the past 40 years — would pop up when it did.

    Truly, there was nothing more I could have asked of Oregon or its fanbase. Everyone had been great. They’d been in my corner since I’d arrived, and right when the Florida State job was offered to me, we were just starting to get rolling in Eugene. The program was in a good place, we had good players and there was more talent on the way. I don’t need to heap platitudes on what kind of program Oregon is — that’s self-evident to anyone who knows anything about this game — but walking away from what we had put in motion there was a decision anyone would struggle with.

    Ultimately, it took some help from the people closest to me to find some clarity.

    The night before I made my decision, I was with my wife in our room going through all of the pros and cons of staying or leaving.

    Kind of out of nowhere, my 16-year-old son came into the room and interrupted us. It caught me off guard because he’d never really weighed in on my previous coaching opportunities. He’d always let me make the decision I felt was best for our family. What I knew for sure was that he didn’t want to leave Oregon. In our short time there he’d made friends, got himself a girlfriend and was generally enjoying life.

    But on that night, he offered some much needed insight. He said, “Dad, I know you’re struggling with this decision. ” I told him I was, and the way he responded is something I’ll always remember.

    “FSU is your dream job,” he told me. “You’ve had me doing the war chant since I was three, and you’ve always told me to chase my dreams. I know it’s going to be hard, but it wouldn’t be right for me or anyone else to get in the way of you chasing your dream. If going to Florida State is what you wanna do, then I’m gonna ride with you.”

    That brought on some tears from me, and we hugged. And that sealed it for me. I knew I was going to disappoint a lot of people. There would backlash and a lot of hurt feelings. But in the long term, I took comfort in knowing this was for the best. My heart belonged to Florida State, and if I let my opportunity to coach there pass me by, I would have ultimately felt a sense a regret that wouldn’t have been fair to Oregon.

    This was about the only thing that could have pulled me out of the Pacific Northwest, but of my short time in Eugene, I’m still thankful for all the wonderful people I met and feel confident that the program is in a position to win a lot of games. I certainly hope they do.

    Not long after arriving at FSU, I brought the players together in small groups with myself so they could share their backgrounds. The point of these conversations wasn’t to talk about stats or accomplishments. I just wanted everyone to be able to express what they went through in order to get to where they were sitting.

    I did this because it became clear to me not long after I got here that this program didn’t have a talent issue. Sure, we have a lot of young players who need more experience, but there’s no question the talent is in the building.

    But from watching this team play games from afar, what I felt was missing was that sense of brotherhood that exists within winning programs, that bond that shows through when players are playing for one another rather than themselves. Our players might have been on the same team, but it struck me that they weren’t as close as I’d like them to be away from the field. It didn’t seem like they were spending extra time at the facility after practice or generally hanging out with each other. That was a problem because the most effective person to hold a player accountable for his performance is another player. But to get to the place where players do that, first they need to know each other, so accountability isn’t interpreted as criticism.

    So that’s why I had the players gather together to share where they’re from as well as their trials and tribulations. I did the same with my coaches, some of whom I’d never worked with before. Each session, I started off by telling my story, the good of course, but especially the bad. I grew up in a neighborhood where there were a lot of drugs and plenty of crime. I had close friends who ended up in prison as a result of making a couple of bad choices. There are kids who play for me who came from much worse conditions, and some who came from much better, but what I’ve found is that by opening up a bit, they all feel more comfortable sharing a little more of themselves.

    I understand why that’s a difficult thing to ask someone to do. This is a sport where so much is said about how tough you are, so asking someone to be vulnerable can be scary. But when everyone does it, teammates gain a certain familiarity and empathy for one another that maybe wasn’t there previously. Before you can accomplish anything else, you need to have that.

    I can already see how our players are relating to one another a little better. We, the players and the coaches, all have dinner together three times a week at the facility. You see a lot of laughing and joking, which is good. But it’s also just a start. There is so much more I want to do here.

    My vision for this program isn’t complicated. The standard has already been set by those before me. When Florida State is where it’s supposed to be, everyone knows what to expect.

    We expect to be ranked in the Top 5. We expect to win the ACC. And we expect to win every game.

    Every single year.

    What I want to make clear is that we aren’t running from those expectations. We’re embracing them. Every time Florida State takes the field, we expect to be dominant.

    We expect the national championship discussion to always run through Tallahassee.

    That’s how it was when I was watching us play on a portable TV in the parking lot of Palmetto Little League as a kid.

    And that’s how I expect it to be once again.

    Do Something!

    Last edited by Ratpenat; 30-08-2018 at 23:13.

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    Florida state vs. Virginia tech: Recap

    Missed Opportunities, Missing Magic Spoil Taggart Debut

    After nine months of anticipation and hearing about how the FSU football team was going to be one of the most watched this season because of what could be, the Seminoles finally kicked things off Monday night for both the 2018 season and the Willie Taggart era in Tallahassee.

    Just over three hours after kickoff, the Noles limped out of an empty Doak Campbell Stadium that had been abandoned by the fan base thanks to one of the most embarrassing home openers in the history of the program.

    Not only did the Seminoles drop their first home opener since the 2009 season against rival Miami, but FSU football found themselves looking much like what they were trying to avoid – the same dismal 7-6 team from last season that led to a change in the coaching staff and plenty of hope during the offseason.

    Now, the Seminoles find themselves in a short week preparing to face a FCS foe that shouldn’t have any reason to be afraid of the Noles at this point. But before that, here’s a look at what we learned from FSU football’s latest outing against the Hokies.

    No. 1 – Monday’s game marked the return of Deondre Francois as the leader of the FSU football offense – and while he had some moments of success and threw for over 220 yards, his night will be marred by three interceptions and plenty of moments where he looked beyond apprehensive and borderline scared in his first game back.

    No. 2 – I know that we all have been singing the praises of Cam Akers ever since he stepped foot on campus in Tallahassee, but the time has come where he needs to show he can have a big game against a quality foe. A stat line of 14 carries for 82 yards gets hurt when you realize he had one run of 85 yards.

    No. 3 – Now, it isn’t just Akers fault or the running game as a whole (which had 28 carries for 94 yards with 93 of them coming on two combined runs by Akers and Jacques Patrick. The offensive line picked up where they left off last season and played like a unit that was trying to get people on the Seminoles’ offense hurt – and if the Seminoles want to avoid a disaster, that unit needs to pick things up quickly.

    No. 4 – There is a slight problem when the top two leading tacklers on the FSU football team in the loss were members of the secondary – meaning that the front seven was allowing things to get past them in the passing game by not applying pressure. Star defensive end Brian Burns had one and a half sacks, but there was no one else who made a name and kept things in place.

    No. 5 – You can talk about all the bad plays on the defense on the two scoring drives for the Hokies’ offense (which was 160 yards of their 319 total on offense), but the Noles did buckle down and allow just 38 yards total in the second half outside of Virginia Tech’s offensive touchdown drive. The biggest problem? Not being able to capitalize on the four fumbles that the Hokies had while the FSU football offense gave up five turnovers of their own in the game.

    No. 6 – Punter Logan Tyler had a game to forget by having a punt blocked and seeing his average be below 40 yards a kick on the night – a number that plummets even more when you take out the 54 yard kick he had in the game.

    Extra Point

    Much of the blame is going to be placed on Taggart, who has been the man in the spotlight for FSU football since being named the head coach last December. While he is entitled to receive plenty of flack for the play calling at times, let us all be careful to not immediately call for his head just because of one game.

    There is a certain segment of the Seminoles’ fan base that is stuck in the past and anything that isn’t a 14-year dynasty run is considered a failure. The dynasty that the Noles had is not coming back any time soon, so it’s time to watch out and be careful what you might wish for after one game that didn’t go our way.

    Going For Two

    I don’t really care about what the uniform combination is for each FSU football game – I like the traditional look, but understand the need for change once in a while – but it looked weird seeing a newer uniform going along with the old school end zone paint scheme.
    Last edited by Ratpenat; 05-09-2018 at 21:41.

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    Fsu vs. Samford: Preview

    FSU-Samford Preview

    After a disappointing blowout loss to Virginia Tech, Florida State will face FCS opponent Samford at 7 PM on Saturday. Samford, originally Howard College, is located in Birmingham, Alabama and is where Bobby Bowden went to college. The Samford Bulldogs defeated Shorter College 66-9 in their first game of the season on Saturday. Last time these two teams played was in 2010 and Florida State won 59-6. This result should be a little bit closer as Florida State has yet to find its groove on offense, has just five days off and Samford is ranked 9th in the FCS. Last year the Bulldogs finished second in the Southern Conference but were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by Kennesaw State.

    Florida State offense versus Samford defense

    Taggart will start Francois at quarterback but if he continues his tentative play he may have to consider James Blackman. The ‘Noles offense will be going up against a 3-4 defense led by outside linebacker Ahmad Gooden. Gooden will provide a nice test for the FSU offensive line, as he is someone who could disrupt a play if left in one-on-one situations or left all alone like we saw too many times on Monday night. Hopefully the FSU offensive line can stay healthy during this game. Cole Minshew missed the Virginia Tech game due to a concussion and three other starters had to miss portions of the game due to injuries. Starting right tackle Landon Dickerson will miss this game with a high ankle sprain. Former defensive lineman Arthur Williams will replace Dickerson than the starting line up. Coach Hatcher of Samford is also excited about his safeties Sam Pettway and Koi Freeman. Overall Florida State has more speed and size than Samford on this side of the ball, which will mask most of the mistakes made by the offense as they continue to adjust to the new scheme.

    Florida State defense versus Samford offense

    The FSU defense was the highlight of the opening game and that should then continue into the second game. They kept the team in the game by getting stop after stop even while backed up. They really only gave up 14 points despite being on the field almost the entire second half. A lot of players played well in the first game but safety/linebacker Jaiden Woodbey really stood out as he recorded an NCAA record by a true freshman in his first game by racking up 9 tackles.

    The Bulldogs boast one of the best passing tandems in the FCS with Devlin Hodges at quarterback and Kelvin McKnight and Chris Snelling at wide receiver. Hodges was a Walter Payton Award finalist last season and is Samford’s career leader in almost every passing and scoring category in the school’s history. Last year he threw for 3,983 yards and 39 touchdowns. I expect FSU’s defense to play well but the Bulldogs will challenge them through the air.

    The last time Samford played an FBS team was last year when they lost 42-14 against national runner-up Georgia. The result should be similar as Florida State quarterbacks will be still learning how to run the offense, especially the run pass option portion of Taggart’s scheme while the offensive line figures out how to gel together.

    Odds and ends …

    Florida State and Samford have a surprisingly deep history. Coaches Bobby Bowden and Jimbo Fisher both attended the school (it was called Howard College when Bowden went there), and FSU opened the Jimbo Fisher Era against Samford in 2010. Both Bowden and Fisher are members of the Samford Hall of Fame.
    Since Bowden took over in 1976, FSU is 12-3 when playing with less than a full week to prepare.
    Samford has a few local ties: Lineman Brendan Loftus and defensive back Darius Harvey are both from Tallahassee, and Hatcher previously coached at Valdosta State, about 90 minutes away.
    Cam Akers’ 85-yard run last week was the longest non-touchdown run in FSU history, and tied Rock Preston (1995) for FSU’s seventh-longest run of any kind.
    FSU on Friday will induct its latest Hall-of-Fame class, and this group is particularly star-studded: Teresa Bundy (women’s track and field), Walter Dix (men’s track and field), Jim Gladden (coaches and administrators), Odell Haggins (football), Buster Posey (baseball), Al Thornton (men’s basketball), Veronica Wootson (softball), Mami Yamaguchi (soccer), Bob Perrone (Moore-Stone Award)
    Last edited by Ratpenat; 08-09-2018 at 07:24.

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    R.I.P. Burt Reynolds

    Why Burt Reynolds Meant So Much To Us

    September 6, 2018 - by Rob Wilson, Associate AD

    The wire story hit like a gut punch earlier today.

    Burt Reynolds has passed away at the age of 82.

    You probably know the connection between Burt and Florida State, but if not, here goes.

    Buddy, as he was known when he was at FSU, was a highly-recruited running back out of Palm Beach High School. He fell in love with Florida State on his recruiting visit when fellow West Palm Beach native Dick Howser, who would become the Seminoles’ first baseball All-American, and football star Lee Corso, eagerly hosted him on campus.

    Reynolds showed tremendous promise over his freshman season, gaining 33 yards on a pass reception in his first action against Georgia in 1954. He gained 134 yards rushing on 16 carries over the first half of the season before a knee injury, which ended many an athletic career in the 1950’s, sidelined him for the rest of the season.

    He sat out the 1955 season while still trying to get the knee in playing shape and returned to FSU in ‘57 but was once again sidelined by injury, ending his FSU career.

    However, the end of his playing career was just the beginning of his public love affair with FSU.

    Reynolds became a television and movie sensation just as Florida State’s budding athletics program needed a boost on the national stage. He hung FSU pennants on the sets of his movies and constantly sung the praises of the Seminoles.

    He put his arm around Bobby Bowden like he never wanted to let go, and palled around with then FSU President Bernie Sliger.

    After watching FSU’s fantastic 1979 and ‘80 football teams play Oklahoma in back-to-back Orange Bowls, Reynolds decided that the Seminoles’ uniforms weren’t flashy enough for television.

    He went to a costume designer friend in Hollywood, and together they designed all gold pants and tweaks to the game jersey. He then had entire uniforms made for the whole team and shipped them, unannounced, to Tallahassee. The crates arrived at the football locker room with a note addressed to Bobby Bowden from Burt that read…”If you like ‘em, wear ‘em.” And FSU did.

    And while Reynolds loved FSU, the Seminoles loved him right back.

    The construction of a new FSU football dorm was a major accomplishment in the early 1980’s. It was named after Burt, and the official ribbon cutting was set for mid-August when the players reported.

    Reynolds arrived in a helicopter from his home in Jupiter, along with Dom DeLuise, Ricardo Montalban, Ben Casey and several other Hollywood stars. They left all of FSU’s staff star-struck, and with a boat-load of stories.

    Burt loved FSU football. I don’t mean just the FSU vs. UF game or a huge bowl game, but he loved everything about Seminole football. He would fly up from Jupiter, again unannounced, and land on the then-Florida High baseball field just to watch a midweek practice for a few hours.

    He loved Bowden, likening him to a second father figure. He loved his Florida State teammates, and boy did he love Gene Deckerhoff.

    Reynolds would do all he could to promote his alma mater wherever he went, even appearing on regular segments of the Bobby Bowden TV Show along with his close pal Gene.

    From 1990-1994, Burt had a popular TV show called Evening Shade. He played a former pro football player who returned to his childhood home to coach the high school team.

    Reynolds wanted Bowden to be on the show so he wrote an entire program that would feature him as a college coach coming in to recruit his TV son, who was not quite good enough to be considered by FSU.

    It makes for a good story because the writers and Burt sent Bowden the script with his dialogue weeks in advance.

    Bowden arrived on set in Los Angeles and was startled to see a live studio audience. He then began looking around behind the set. When producers asked him what he was looking for, he said he just wanted to get a look at the cue cards.

    Reynolds, realizing that Bowden had not committed his rather extensive lines to memory, sat down with him and described a scenario that was familiar to the coach. Essentially telling him just to be himself and say what you would during a home visit to a recruit.

    Remarkably, the show went off without a hitch and Bowden was a natural in front of the camera. They say no one was smiling wider at the end of the show than Burt.

    I met Burt on several occasions, and it gives me great pleasure to relay that he couldn’t have been more gracious and genuine each time I was around him. Even walking with him under the stands at Doak or out of the public eye, his tremendous sense of humor always flashed.

    Just how good of a guy was he?

    During that August dorm-naming ceremony a typical Tallahassee thunderstorm roared out of nowhere and a lightning crack sent everyone diving for cover in the vacant dorm rooms.

    As fate would have it, about nine of us ended up packed in a room with Burt as the rain came down in sheets, pinning everyone inside. None of us stuffed in there were A-listers, and I thought Burt must be wondering what the hell he was doing there.

    Rather than sulk like Hollywood’s top box office draw at the time would be expected to do, he started to tell stories non-stop for the next 30 minutes that ranged from his early friendship with Clint Eastwood, to what making Smokey, and the Bandit was like, to a few nuggets about leading ladies.

    I’m convinced if someone had thrown a few cigars in there he might have made a night of it.

    When the final history of how Florida State University and its athletics program is written, the Hollywood sensation with the million dollar smile and good-old-boy charm will once again have a leading role.

    Thanks for everything, Buddy.

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    Great stuff, Rat. really enjoyed the Burt stuff especially!

    If you ain't a Gator, you must be................ Gator Bait !!
    Big CHEERS To All Streamers! Geaux Saints!

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    Fsu vs. Samford: Recap

    Noles come from behind for 1st Win of Taggart Era

    In a game that was delayed nearly 90 minutes thanks to the wonderful late summer weather, the FSU football team waited until just into Sunday morning to finally act like they wanted to come and play – and avoid what would have arguably been the most embarrassing loss in the history of the Seminoles program.

    For close to 55 minutes of game action, the Noles made their FCS foes from the state of Alabama look like a Power Five team as head coach Willie Taggart and his players didn’t seem to have an answer for a Samford team who was playing lights out almost every time they touched the ball.

    Now, FSU football can breath a sigh of relief as they continue to stay unbeaten against the lower tier of the top division in college football – but with 10 games left in the season, still have so many questions that are yet to be answered that many people in garnet and gold could be on the edge of their seats for the rest of the season.

    Here’s a look at what we learned from FSU football’s latest outing against the Bulldogs.

    No. 1 – Once again, quarterback Deondre Francois showed why he was the best signal caller on the FSU football roster – and also the toughest, as he kept getting knocked down (and was sent to the trainer’s tent at one point) but still managed to throw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns, with two going to Tamorrion Terry in the receiver’s only catches of the game.

    No. 2 – The running back duo of Cam Akers and Jacques Patrick had a much better night than on Labor Day, with both Seminoles combining to average over five and a half yards per carry – and with the injury to Khalan Laborn looking like he will be out for a long time, both Noles in the backfield are going to have to live up to their five star potential the rest of the way.

    No. 3 – Of course, both units should be praised because they were able to overcome another horrible night by the offensive line. Sloppy penalties, missed blocks and even high snaps from the dependable leader Alec Eberle – you can tell that new offensive line coach Greg Frey is gong to have his work cut out for him the rest of the season at this rate.

    No. 4 – Speaking of pathetic, the FSU football secondary made Samford quarterback Delvin Hodges look like a damn NFL all-pro as they gave up nearly 500 yards passing to a FCS quarterback. Yes, they had four interceptions that included a game-sealing pick six, but if they play like this the rest of the season, the Seminoles might be staring down the barrel of a losing season.

    No. 5 – In the defense of those players, however, you have to also be upset with how the front seven of the Seminoles played considering the fact that they had no sacks and just three tackles for a loss while getting to Hodges just four times to force a quick pass. That’s not going to cut it the rest of the season.

    No. 6 – I think we can successful say that kicker Ricky Aguayo has lost any chance of ever being as dependable as his brother was. I don’t want to sound like an alarmist, but starting off the season just one for four on field goal attempts is something that Taggart and his staff need to worry about – and don’t be surprised if you see more fourth down attempts as a result.

    Extra Point

    If it isn’t evident by now, the FSU football season could be one full of ups and downs and a vast roller coaster of emotion – and if you need an example, notice how this is looking exactly like the way the 2009 season went for the Seminoles.

    After starting off the season with a shocking loss at home on Labor Day (to Miami that season, Va. Tech this year), the Noles had to come from behind to secure a 10 point win over their FCS opponent five days later thanks to two late scores (Jacksonville State at that point, Samford last night).

    The final record that season? 7-6 that included three wins in their final four games just to get to that point. Hang on, folks.

    Going For Two

    With that being said, it is WAY too early to even think about jumping off the ship with the Seminoles this season. We’re talking about a whole new offense and defense being learned by a team playing two games in a six-day span. If they play the same against Syracuse, than you have an argument – but until that point, take a step back and realize this is not going to be as easy as we all wish.

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    Fsu vs. Syracuse: Preview

    Florida State Seminoles vs. Syracuse Orange Prediction and Preview

    Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 15 at 12 p.m. ET

    TV: ESPN

    A struggling Florida State team will try to avoid the harsh reality of starting 0-2 in ACC play for a second time in three years and prevent new head coach Willie Taggart from losing his first two contests against FBS opponents when the Seminoles make the trek to Upstate New York to face Syracuse. After getting blasted by Virginia Tech to open the season, FSU needed a touchdown with four minutes to play in Week 2 to sneak past FCS power Samford. The Orange are off to a 2-0 start for the second time in Dino Babers' three years and will aim to open conference play with a victory. The two wins thus far for Syracuse are against Western Michigan from the MAC and Wagner from the FCS ranks. The series has been lopsided of late with Florida State winning the last 10 in the series after dropping the first-ever meeting. Last season, however, FSU needed a missed field goal as time expired to escape at home, 27-24. The Carrier Dome has traditionally been a tough place for opponents to play. It was the scene of ACC champion Clemson’s only regular-season loss in 2017.

    Three Things to Watch

    1. Eric Dungey vs. FSU defense

    For Florida State to have any chance in the Carrier Dome on Saturday afternoon, it will have to slow down Syracuse senior quarterback Eric Dungey. Dungey is the type of player who can beat a defense with his arm or his legs, and he will be facing an FSU defense that has been inconsistent at best this season. In last week’s win over Samford, Bulldogs quarterback Devlin Hodges threw for nearly 500 yards, although the Seminoles did pick him off four times. The one sigh of relief for FSU is that the Orange aren’t exactly loaded with playmakers outside of Dungey. Jamal Custis, a 6-foot-5 senior, is the biggest threat for Syracuse. The Seminoles are talented in the secondary with Levonta Taylor and Kyle Meyers at the corners. Brian Burns, a junior defensive end, will be largely responsible for keeping Dungey in check on the ground. Despite playing on a bad ankle for most of the second half of last season's matchup, Dungey finished with 278 yards passing, 109 yards rushing and three total touchdowns against Florida State.

    2. The FSU offensive line vs. the Syracuse defensive line

    The biggest culprit in Florida State’s struggles to this point in the season has been the offensive line. It's an area where FSU has struggled the last few years, and injuries early on have only complicated matters. Center Alec Eberle and versatile Derrick Kelly are very experienced seniors, but outside of those two, it’s been musical guards and tackles this season. The Seminoles have struggled both to pass protect and to open up holes for the likes of Cam Akers and Jacques Patrick. Akers rushed for a career-high 199 yards against the Orange last season. The defensive line for Syracuse wasn’t expected to be a strength, and to this point, it has not been. The Orange have 12 tackles for a loss and three sacks on the season so far against the likes of Western Michigan and Wagner. It should be noted that the Broncos averaged 8.6 yards per rush and put up 621 yards against Syracuse. Defensive tackle Chris Slayton headlines the defensive tackle position. If there was ever a game for FSU to be able to generate a push offensively, it’s this one.

    3. Third down efficiency

    Sustaining drives will play a key role during Saturday’s contest in the Carrier Dome. Florida State will need to find a way to get Dungey and the Orange offense off the field when the opportunity presents itself. Last season, Syracuse torched the Seminoles on third down by going 11-for-25 with many of those being long yardage situations. FSU, on the other hand, was just 1-for-13. Those trends have continued throughout the early parts of 2018 as the Orange are a respectable 13-for-30 on third down, a conversion rate of 43 percent. The Seminoles haven’t been able to keep drives going much at all this season. FSU is just 9-for-30, which ranks 113th in the country. Against Samford, the Seminoles were a dismal 2-for-12 before converting the final two third downs on their game-winning drive. FSU will need to be able to generate enough push up front on short yardage and stay in manageable situations for quarterback Deondre Francois.
    Last edited by Ratpenat; 14-09-2018 at 00:29.

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    Fsu vs. Syracuse: Recap

    Three things we learned in FSU's loss to Syracuse

    Here are three things we learned from the lopsided defeat...

    1. There’s no hope on offense

    At least in the immediate future.

    Our entire staff thought this offense was capable of scoring 30 points against a bad defense. And FSU didn’t even come close.

    The offensive line was going to be an issue all year, that much was clear after FSU’s Week 1 loss to Virginia Tech. But there were at least flashes of being a competent group in the final drive the following game against FCS opponent Samford. That appeared to be smoke and mirrors after the offense was abysmal against what’s typically one of the worst defenses in the country.

    FSU scored just seven points against a Syracuse team that gave up a whopping 9.70 yards per play against MAC opponent Western Michigan earlier this year, and the Seminoles didn’t do much better against Syracuse (4.0 yards per play) than FCS squad Wagner (3.89.)

    At this juncture, FSU’s offense skews closer to that of an FCS team than a MAC team. And what’s even more disturbing is that fact that FSU doesn’t have any answers to fix the most glaring problem -- offensive line -- this year. Credit the staff for trying to mix and match with about a dozen line combinations, but it’s evident that none have worked so far in the soft part of FSU’s schedule.

    The line looks lost right now and the defensive fronts will only get more difficult. And unless that somehow magically gets better, FSU’s skill players are not going to be able to carry a unit that simply cannot even block at close to an average level.

    2. This just is a bad, undisciplined football team

    It’s easy to focus solely on the offensive line, because that’s the group that is hindering FSU’s play the most.

    But that doesn’t mean other problems do not exist. Far from it.

    FSU has a bevy of issues that are alarming: The defense plays hard, but it committed a couple of silly personal-foul penalties on Saturday; Clock management at the end of the first half was just bad; Special teams continue to be an adventure (an unorthodox onside kick nearly results in a touchdown return, and a big punt return by D.J. Matthews was called back by a penalty); And FSU had two delay-of-game penalties on offense immediately after kickoff returns.

    This all trickles up to the top. Willie Taggart’s team has looked generally unorganized so far. Maybe that changes, but right now this is team is a sloppy mess that has more penalties against its two FBS opponents (18) than points (10).

    3. FSU’s 36-year bowl streak is in serious jeopardy...through three games

    Before this week’s loss, the S&P+ projections had FSU as a favorite against two teams: Syracuse and Northern Illinois.

    And both of those games had FSU favored by just a score.

    Well the Seminoles were thumped by Syracuse and the metric will adjust as it gets more data. At this stage, who knows if FSU will be favored over Northern Illinois, but it’s safe to assume that the Seminoles will be underdogs in almost all of the eight following games.

    FSU has lost to a depleted Virginia Tech team and a Syracuse program that hasn’t had a winning record since 2013 by a combined score of 54-10. And it barely beat FCS opponent Samford. After Northern Illinois, FSU faces seven consecutive teams that went to bowl games last season and then rival Florida.

    It’s difficult to find five more wins on this schedule given how FSU is performing.

    What Went Right

    The truthful answer here is that basically nothing went right for the Seminoles on the day.

    Linebacker Dontavious Jackson did have a strong individual performance. He had 14 tackles, including eight solo tackles. He also had a pair of tackles for loss.

    Punter Logan Tyler also continued his strong showing on the season. He averaged 42.6 yards per punt over 10 punts. He had three punts that went for 50 or more yards. Tyler also had a touchdown saving tackle after an on-side kick attempt failed late in the game.

    What Went Wrong

    Pretty much everything.

    The offense is a complete mess. It averaged 4.0 yards per play, over 60 plays run on Saturday afternoon.

    Quarterback Deondre Francois was 18-for-36 for 178 yards and an interception. He rushed for a touchdown. He was also sacked four times.

    Francois' favorite target on the day was Keith Gavin, who had six receptions for 79 yards. He had a 39-yard reception, which was FSU's longest play from scrimmage.

    FSU had just 62 rushing yards on the day.

    FSU was 1-for-14 on third downs against the Orange.

    The defense was gassed late and allowed 441 offensive yards to the Orange - 222 on the ground and 219 through the air. Syracuse ran a total of 88 plays against the Seminoles, including going 8-for-18 on third down opportunities. The Orange dominated time of possession, holding the ball for 36:53 compared to just 23:07 for the Seminoles.

    FSU also committed 11 penalties for 90 yards on the day.

    Turning Point

    FSU didn't have one, but the opportunity presented itself at the end of the first half. FSU put together an 8-play, 53-yard drive as the first half came to an end, but an 8-yard completion along the sideline to Keith Gavin on 3rd and 10 where he didn't get out of bounds and the Seminoles were out of timeouts led to the clock bleeding out and leaving FSU with no points heading to the locker room. A score there could have given FSU the lead, if it were a touchdown, or closed the gap to 6-3, if the Seminoles were able to get off a very short field goal.

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    Fsu vs. Northern illinois: Preview

    Northern Illinois Huskies vs. Florida State Seminoles Preview

    Date/Time: Saturday, Sept. 22, 3:30 p.m. (2:30 CST)
    Where: Doak Campbell Stadium — Tallahassee, Florida (79,560 capacity)
    Watch: ESPNU

    4 Things to know

    1. Battle of Dismal Offenses. Yeah, the Florida State offense really is that bad. It’s the second-worst in college football in third down conversions, mainly because the offensive line has been a total disaster. The FSU offensive front it getting killed by anyone who get behind the line, and it shows with no passing attack, and with the NFL-caliber running backs getting nowhere to move. Yeah, the Northern Illinois offense is really that bad. It perked up a little bit against Central Michigan last week, but there’s no passing game in place to take advantage of the shaky FSU secondary. NIU hasn’t thrown for more than 111 yards so far, and there aren’t any big plays down the field. The running game isn’t exactly picking up the slack – the Huskies have yet to run for a touchdown, and it’s averaging just over three yards per carry.

    2. Sutton Smith vs. the FSU offensive line. Calling Florida State’s offensive line a mess at this point might be a compliment. The Seminoles have been absolutely dreadful this season when it comes to getting opponents blocked. Things went from bad to worse this week as FSU learned it would be without redshirt senior Derrick Kelly for Saturday’s contest. Redshirt junior Cole Minshew and redshirt sophomore Landon Dickerson are among the players to already miss time this offseason. That’s in addition to losing Josh Ball to a university suspension this offseason. This week, the Seminoles will have to deal with a defensive end who is quietly one of the nation’s best in Smith. At 6-foot-1 and nearly 240 pounds, Smith led the nation in sacks and tackles for a loss as a sophomore last season. Through three games this season, Smith has 6.5 tackles for a loss and three sacks. After struggling to block a Syracuse line that failed to stop Western Michigan, the Seminoles must find a way to slow down Smith.

    3. Deondre Francois vs. the Northern Illinois secondary. If there is one area where Florida State’s putrid offense could fare favorably, it could be taking shots against the Northern Illinois secondary. As a team, the Huskies have been good defensively this season, but they have given up some big plays through the air. That’s something that FSU could desperately use. Northern Illinois cornerbacks Jalen Embry and Albert Smalls, both redshirt seniors, have good size but should be tested on Saturday. Big plays in the passing game have been there to be made for FSU, but to this point, they just haven’t happened. Tamorrion Terry and Keith Gavin are big receivers capable of stretching the field. For an FSU offense that has averaged just five points per game against FBS competition, getting big plays down the field may be the best chance at cracking the scoreboard.

    4. Playmakers at running back. Both teams have very good players at running back. The key for each team will be finding a way to get them out and running. For Northern Illinois, that guy is sophomore Tre Harbison. Harbison, at 5-foot-11 and nearly 230 pounds, is a big back but has managed to tear off chunks of yardage this season. Harbison is averaging 7.1 yards per carry, but the majority of his production came last week against Central Michigan. In the 24–16 win, Harbison rushed for 124 yards on just 13 carries. For FSU, sophomore Cam Akers is a big play waiting to happen, but putrid offensive line play has kept Akers largely bottled up this season. Akers has averaged 5.5 yards per carry and 70 yards rushing per game. Because of FSU’s inability to get into manageable third downs, Akers has largely been relegated to a few chunk plays per game. Things could be tough again this week for Akers, but the Seminoles must find a way to get him the ball in space against a Northern Illinois squad that is yielding just 3.3 yards per carry. FSU is also allowing just 3.3 yards per carry. Neither Harbison nor Akers have rushed for a touchdown yet this season.
    Last edited by Ratpenat; 21-09-2018 at 00:21.

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    Fsu vs. Northern illinois: Recap

    Takeaways from FSU vs Northern Illinois

    We asked if FSU football would show signs of life on offense against Northern Illinois earlier this week. Boy did they ever, scoring touchdowns on their first two possessions and averaging over eight yards per play.

    The defense continued to be lights out as they only allowed NIU to average less than a yard per play in the first quarter. In contrast, FSU ran 29 offensive plays in the first QUARTER compared to the same amount of plays in the first HALF of the Syracuse game.

    It was completely night and day from the first three games and FSU fans were in shock on social media asking “who’s this team?”

    Of course it wasn’t possible to sustain that level of play over the course of four quarters, but it was a good indication of things.

    I should point out the Noles caught a couple of breaks as well regarding deflections and a possible interception

    Their first quarter play told us the players actually care about getting better and the coaches were able to find combinations on the offensive line that were better than the first three weeks.

    The second half of the game was much sloppier on offense and the defense was put in bad positions by the offense and gave up some scores. However, I came away from this game with a semblance of confidence they could go on the road and win next week at Louisville.

    Let’s get to our three takeaways from the game.

    1. Second Half Was Too Sloppy

    This is the thing that stood out the most to me. The Noles had four turnovers during the game that would have been costly against a better offensive team.

    They had EIGHT second half penalties after only have one the entire first half and the game was MUCH closer than the final score would indicate.

    In fact, it was 23-13 early in the fourth quarter when NIU scored an apparent touchdown on 3rd and 9 only for the play to be negated because their receiver barely stepped out-of-bounds prior to catching the pass.

    They’d miss a chip shot field goal on the next play. However, had that touchdown counted it would have been 23-20 with 11 minutes to go in the game.

    FSU did come right back with a dagger on the 78 yard touchdown reception by Tamorrion Terry, but the game should have never been that close the Noles took care of the football and stopped shooting themselves in the foot.

    2. FSU Must Throw More On First Down/Run Francois

    We talked about three ways to improve the offense and it looks like a couple of our recommendations were taken to heart.

    Two of the things were leaning more on Deondre Francois’s arm and him being used more in the run game.

    Francois threw for 352 yards on 31 attempts and actually ran the ball more in this game with nine carries.

    However, one thing I’d like to see more of is throwing more on first down as teams seem to be anticipating the Noles running the ball. That definitely was the case in the second half, but that could have been attributed to a couple of things.

    It could have been FSU had a two score lead and they wanted wear the NIU defense down in 100 degree heat. Or it could have been an offensive line combination they didn’t feel comfortable with in pass protection.

    Nevertheless, I’ll take more throwing on first down and Francois running for positive yardage instead of taking sacks all day. The Noles only have up two sacks in the game but did give up 9 TFL.

    The latter I believe is a direct result of being predictable and running on first down too much.

    3. Offense Made Progress Against A Good Defense

    The biggest concern going into the game would be the FSU offense against the NIU defense. FSU looked inept against Syracuse who statistically is way worse on defense than NIU.

    If they played like that last week, how in the world would they play better against a better defense?

    I’m not sure, but they did manage to do it and score 37 points. They had 473 yards on 89 plays which equates to 5.31 ypp(this includes the 20 yard loss on the snap that went Francois’s head).

    That still isn’t great, but it’s good progress for a FSU team that only averaged 4.0 ypp last week.

    The Noles had nearly 150 rushing yards from its running backs and gave Deondre Francois enough time to complete 74 percent of his passes for 352 yards while only getting sacked twice.

    The question now is can the offense build on what it accomplished today? Will that confidence carry over into next week? I don’t see why it won’t as Louisville isn’t a great defensive team but the game will be on the road.

    At least the Noles showed the ability to look better while playing against a better defense. Maybe these guys can win four more games after all?

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    Fsu vs. Louisville: Preview



    Date: Saturday, September 29
    Game Time: 3:30 ET
    Venue: Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, KY
    Network: ESPN2

    Two ACC teams in desperate need of a win will square off in the Bluegrass State on Saturday as Florida State visits Louisville. The contest will be a matchup of 2-2 teams and may be a must-win for each as far as bowl eligibility is concerned.
    In his ninth season (in two stints) at Louisville, Bobby Petrino has never won fewer eight games and never failed to take the Cardinals to a bowl game. FSU has not missed out on a bowl since 1981. Head coach Willie Taggart will be aiming for his first ACC victory and first road win for Florida State on Saturday.
    The two teams had very different weekends recently. Florida State played its most complete game of the season on Saturday in a 37-19 win over Northern Illinois, its first win against FBS competition. The Cardinals were handled at Virginia, 27-3.

    Three Things to Watch

    1. Big plays

    Both Florida State and Louisville have been offensively challenged this season, ranking 12th and 14th, respectively, in the ACC in total offense and 13th and 14th in points per game. The Seminoles seemed to pick things up a big last week, although the ground game was still largely a non-factor. Perhaps the best way for either team to put points on the board this week will be with the big play. FSU was able to strike late last week with a 78-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Deondre Francois to Tamorrion Terry. Terry leads the Seminoles with three receiving touchdowns this season.
    Louisville has playmakers at the skill positions like Jaylen Smith and Dez Fitzpatrick, but the problem has been quarterback play. With former Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson now suiting up on Sundays for the Baltimore Ravens, sophomore Jawon Pass and freshman Malik Cunningham have combined to average less than six yards per pass attempt with three touchdowns compared to six interceptions. Florida State has been solid defensively this season, but if there is a weakness, it’s giving up the big play. The Seminoles allowed a 66-yard touchdown pass from Marcus Childers to D.J. Brown on third-and-13 in last week’s win.

    2. The battle in the trenches

    While quarterback play has been the Achilles heel for Louisville this season, getting guys blocked has been the big issue for Florida State. Derrick Kelly, Cole Minshew and Landon Dickerson have all missed time for the Seminoles this season, and that’s on top of Josh Ball being dismissed by the university in the offseason. FSU did improve against a good Northern Illinois defense led by Sutton Smith last week but still managed just 2.1 yards per carry on the ground. Louisville is yielding 192 yards per game on the ground this season, which is better than only North Carolina in the ACC.
    Despite starting two redshirt seniors up front, Louisville has also struggled to get much push. The Cardinals are averaging just 3.7 yards per rush as a team, and that number shrinks to 3.1 yards per carry if Cunningham is taken out of the equation. Brian Burns headlines a good and deep Florida State defensive line that ranks third in the ACC against the run and fifth when it comes to getting to the quarterback.

    3. Turnovers and field position

    For two teams that have been offensively challenged this season — to put it mildly — starting field position will be key for manufacturing points. When it comes to turnovers, both FSU and Louisville have been among the worst in the ACC and the country. For the year, FSU is minus-6 when it comes to turnovers and minus-10 against FBS competition. At minus-5 for the season, the Cardinals haven’t fared much better. Louisville quarterbacks have combined for six interceptions, while FSU’s Deondre Francois has five himself.
    Another key component in the field position game will be punting. Both teams have very capable punters in Mason King for the Cardinals and Logan Tyler for FSU. DJ Matthews of Florida State and Louisville’s Rodjay Burns are capable return men. Burns already has a punt return for a touchdown this season.

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    Fsu vs. Louisville: Recap

    If you’re wondering what the gigantic sound was coming from the state of Florida around 7 p.m. on Saturday, it was a collective sigh of relief being let out by the entire FSU football family – as once again, the Seminoles don’t make it easy on those in garnet and gold but still figured out a way to come out with a win.

    After another first half of playing like hot garbage, the Seminoles came alive at points in the second half to get their third victory of the season – and their first win in the ACC, if you can believe that – in a game that, to be honest with each other, they had no business winning.

    But, in what appears to be a season of transition where the remaining schedule may be the most difficult in the entire country, FSU football will take any win they can get before moving on to the next on – a heated game on the road against a hated rival.

    Here’s a look at what we learned from FSU football’s latest outing against the Cardinals.

    No. 1 – One of the areas where we can all be honest about being that “hot garbage” early on for the FSU football offense was the play of Deondre Francois at quarterback – but with that being said, give credit for a second half where he showed some leadership and grit you want from a redshirt junior as he finished the day with four touchdown passes and almost 300 yards through the air.

    No. 2 – Giving credit where it is due, Nyqwan Murray also showed up in this game as he finished with over 100 yards receiving and two touchdowns – including the game winner that stunned the Louisville faithful. With that, Tamorrion Terry showed that he needs to be featured more in the passing game with his long touchdown that may have been the most important play of the season.

    No. 3 – All of that success in the passing game overcomes what seems to be the game ritual of the running game playing like crap. Only so much of this can be put on the offensive line – and believe me, I will continue to ridicule them – but for the five star duo of Cam Akers and Jacques Patrick to combine for 55 yards on 21 carries (less than three YPC) is unacceptable.

    No. 4 – For the first 30 game minutes, the FSU football defense looked like it regressed after giving up over 270 yards of offense – and while the second half wasn’t a reincarnation of the 1985 Bears, the front line kept things in control and allowed just two drives of over 50 yards for the Cardinals as players like Brian Burns, DeCalon Brroks and others showed up when needed.

    No. 5 – I don’t care that they came up with two interceptions, including the one that ended up leading to the game winning touchdown: the Seminoles’ secondary is almost as bad to that side of the ball as the offensive line is to the offense. I’m going out there and calling out guys like Levonta Taylor, A.J. Westbrook and more – step your game up or we’re in big trouble.

    No. 6 – He’s been given a lot of heat in the past for having bad games, but give credit where it is due to punter Logan Tyler, who got off plenty of good kicks as FSU football was able to keep the Cardinals to a starting drive inside the 30 yard line on five of the seven kicks from Tyler – including several that pinned Louisville deep.

    Extra Point

    To an extent, we as a FSU football fan base have been spoiled because of all the success that the Seminoles have had and how easy things have seemed to be in the past – from the dynasty era of the late 1980s and the 1990s to the 2013 national title team – but it’s time to understand that this may be the new normal while the Noles get adjusted to things.

    I’m not say be happy that the Seminoles have lost two ACC games before the end of September and had to work to beat a not-so-good Louisville team, but I will continue to advocate for a level of patience especially with what lies ahead.

    Going For Two

    I also know that we won the game and should all be happy with it, but can we please retire the garnet helmets for a while? I get that it’s a different look and once in a while wouldn’t be the end of the world, but we did not look like the FSU football team out there on Saturday.

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    Fsu vs. Miami: Preview


    For all the issues that the FSU football team has had to deal with during the first season of the Willie Taggart era – adapting to a new offense and defense, getting blown out in two of their first three games – all of that can be fixed come Saturday afternoon if the Seminoles can continue their dominance this decade of a hated rival.

    For the 63rd time in their history that dates back to the first meeting during the 1951 season, the Noles and the Miami Hurricanes will take the field inside Hard Rock Stadium with plenty on the table – FSU football going for their ninth win in the last 11 games of this series while looking to win their seventh straight game against Miami on their rented field.

    There have been plenty of times before where the best team didn’t always win in this series – and while Miami is a clear favorite, both sides known that anything is possible when the garnet and gold meets the orange and green. Here’s our preview of this week’s game between the Seminoles and the Hurricanes.

    Florida State at Miami

    Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 6 at 3:30 p.m. ET

    TV: ABC

    Key Matchup

    FSU pass defense vs. Miami QB N’Kosi Perry

    When you look at why the Seminoles have the 86th ranked total defense in the FBS, it’s not hard to see why considering they are ranked 23rd against the run – and 117th against the pass. Conversely, the Canes are on their second starter of the season as the redshirt freshman became the man last week against North Carolina tasked with during around the 70h raked pass offense.

    Of course, Perry threw for a total of 12 passes last week and completed eight for 125 yards and a touchdown so if the FSU pass defense can keep him from having a breakout game and exploiting their mistakes this season, the Seminoles have a decent chance in this game.

    Miami’s offense (24th) v. FSU’s defense (33rd)


    44th in efficiency, 51st in explosiveness. 69th in marginal efficiency, and 25th in marginal explosiveness. Safe to say that Miami is better at hitting big plays than it is at sustaining drives.
    The Hurricanes have been tremendous in the scoring zone, ranking 3rd nationally.
    They’ve also had tremendous starting field position (6th nationally) thanks to their defense and special teams.


    Conversely, FSU’s defense is good at stopping drives (49th, 37th), but will give up big plays (73rd, 75th).
    One key difference is that FSU’s defense has had to face the 127th worst field position from opposing offenses, which is a huge difference.
    FSU has been elite at preventing red zone scoring (7th nationally) so something here will have to give.

    Personnel and scheme

    Miami has been OK throwing the ball (55th in efficiency, 47th in explosiveness), but have been somewhat better under N’Kosi Perry after he was inserted two games ago.
    Perry has big physical tools, but also some questions. He has the same yards/attempt as Rosier, despite playing worse competition. And he’s already thrown three interceptions. His completion rate is better than Rosier’s was by a lot (67% v. 52%).
    He has also not had to throw from behind, or in a tight game.
    Miami is without receiver Ahmmon Richards, but slot receiver Jeff Thomas is one of the fastest players in college football and will be a huge problem. He has an incredible 25 yards/catch this year, and Miami uses him to get out of trouble.
    Miami is much better on standard downs than it is passing downs. It’s an offense that heavily uses the RPO and play-action, and the QB running (about 8 carries/game), and these things work better when the threat of the run matters.
    Speaking of the run game, Miami is not great at it on a down-down basis (82nd), but does hit explosive runs (16th).
    Travis Homer is a dependable, instinctive back with some wiggle and the ability to hit a home run. The offensive line for Miami is definitely not great.
    Miami has the personnel to pick on FSU’s linebackers and safeties, who aren’t very good.

    FSU’s offense (109th) v. Miami’s defense (26th)

    This is a huge mismatch.
    FSU’s efficiency (125th/110th) is not likely to get better against a Miami defense that doesn’t allow many sustained drives (4th and 15th).
    If FSU is going to find success, it will need to be with the big play. FSU’s explosiveness (15th, 30th) is about all it has, and Miami does give it up at times (94th, 60th).
    Field position is going to be key. FSU’s starting field position has been atrocious. It is constantly losing games because it suffered from a 100+ yard FP disadvantage on the regular.
    Deondre Francois is going to need to be quick and correct in his decision making. And he must be willing to run. Miami’s defense can’t be allowed to play 11 on 10.
    Miami has some strange splits with standard and passing downs. They seem to play a lot better on standard downs than passing downs, which is odd because the defense has the advantage in long down and distance. The Hurricanes love to try to sack the QB on first and second down, but aren’t quite as good getting to the QB on long down and distance.
    Play-action on early downs with the intent of pushing the ball down the field will be key.
    Miami’s defensive line is plenty disruptive. Gerald Willis in the middle should give FSU fits because the Seminoles’ guards are really slow.
    Jonathan Garvin and Joe Jackson on the outside have the speed to give FSU a lot of trouble. Not expecting Dickerson to play.
    Bill Connelly’s stuff rate. FSU dead last in stuffs allowed, Miami leads the nation.
    Given how much Miami likes to penetrate, FSU should probably go more gap scheme this week instead of zone scheme. But the problem with that is that FSU’s guards are not good pullers, so the advantage of lessening the penetration could be negated.
    Miami has some of the best linebackers in the country, so getting blockers on them will be key.
    The Hurricanes will try to play man-man across the board, so FSU has to be able to win there.
    Well-timed screens will also be important.

    Three Things to Watch

    1. Quarterback play

    Although staying upright has been a challenge in itself for the redshirt junior, Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois enters Saturday’s contest as the ACC’s leader in passing yardage and completions. Francois is coming off of a contest in which he was outstanding in the second half and finished with 294 passing yards and a career-high four touchdowns. Still, Francois has had difficulty fully grasping Taggart’s “Gulf Coast Offense,” especially when it comes to the zone reads. For the Seminoles to have any success offensively against Miami on Saturday, Francois will need to play at a very high level and probably take shots down the field. He finished with 234 yards passing and two touchdowns in his last matchup with the Hurricanes two years ago.
    Miami fans have long been clamoring for redshirt freshman N’Kosi Perry to take the reins and recently, they’ve gotten their wish. Perry has great tools from his arm to his feet, but has yet to face a really good defense. The Seminoles didn’t play their best football a week ago defensively but Kyle Meyers and AJ Westbrook each have two interceptions on the season and FSU defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett will try to mix up the looks that the young signal-caller sees. Malik Rosier was kept mostly in check last season against Florida State but came up big when things mattered.

    2. FSU offensive line vs. Miami defensive line

    The offensive line for Florida State has been a miserable unit for the early parts of this season, but the group is making progress. Last week against Louisville, FSU didn’t allow a sack for the first time in nearly four years. The running game has still been non-existent, but the offense as a whole has scored 65 points over the last two weeks after managing just 10 points total in its first two games against FBS competition. With redshirt senior Derrick Kelly returning to practice, the Seminoles could be even healthier this week.
    The bad news for FSU is that the Miami defensive line is absolutely ferocious. At defensive tackle, Gerald Willis already has 10.5 tackles for a loss to his name while the likes of Joe Jackson and Jonathan Garvin have also been monsters early on. At this point in the season, Miami has an FBS-leading 60 tackles for a loss, which is 12 more than second-place Nevada. The FSU offensive front will also be tasked with trying to get a hat on a talented corps of linebackers headlined by Shaquille Quarterman and Michael Pinckney. If the FSU offensive line can hold up against that group, it should have a chance but that is a tall task.

    3. Miami skill players vs. FSU back seven

    After a very good defensive start to the season, Florida State took a step back last week against Louisville as quarterback Jawon Pass threw for more than 300 yards and that number could have been much greater had it not been for a number of misfires downfield. Dontavious Jackson and DeCalon Brooks are progressing at the linebacker position, but FSU safeties struggled mightily last week. This week their task will be to try and contain a deep group of skill players for the Hurricanes. Junior cornerback Levonta Taylor has also failed to live up to his All-American hype.
    Travis Homer has been the workhorse out of the backfield for the Hurricanes, but the versatility provided by Deejay Dallas could be a bigger threat to the FSU defense. In addition to those two names, Miami is loaded at wide receiver and that’s despite the fact that Ahmmon Richards has been nursing a knee injury and has just one catch this year. Jeff Thomas and Lawrence Cager have been the big-play threats for the receiving corps, but Mike Harley, Brevin Jordan and last year’s hero, Darrell Langham, have all been very reliable options.

    Interesting Note

    Much has been made this week about the interesting parts of what has been the best rivalry in college football for much of the last 35 seasons. FSU football holds the lead in games played in Miami while the Hurricanes hold the lead in Tallahassee.

    The Noles’ seven game win streak that was ended last season tied the longest in series history while a seventh straight in Miami for the Noles would be the second longest for a foe on the road in this series, trailing just the eight straight games won by FSU in the old Orange Bowl stadium from 1963 to 1974.
    Last edited by Ratpenat; 06-10-2018 at 00:13.

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    Fsu vs. Miami: Recap

    FSU blows a 20-point lead, falls to Miami on the road

    As is tradition, the Seminoles and Hurricanes got into a pregame scuffle at the conclusion of warm ups and the 63rd rendition of the rivalry was underway.

    Florida State’s defense got off to a fast start, forcing Miami into a three-and-out. Special teams followed up with a solid return from D.J. Matthews, giving the offense the ball on the FSU 42-yard line.

    It wouldn’t take long for Deondre Francois to get reacquainted with the Hurricanes’ defensive front, as they brought him to the ground for a sack on the first offensive series, forcing FSU into a 3rd & 14 situation.

    However, a well executed tight end screen to Tre’ McKitty gave the offense an important first down. A couple of plays later, Francois zipped a touchdown pass to Keith Gavin. The catch was Gavin’s first touchdown as a Seminole and put FSU up 7-0 in the first quarter.

    FSU’s defense continued to impress early in the game. A huge sack from Marvin Wilson and a great pass break up by Levonta Taylor highlighted the series and got the defense off the field. A poor punt from Miami allowed FSU’s offense to maintain good field position.

    The offense was not able to capitalize but Logan Tyler would flip the field, pinning Miami inside its own 20-yard line.

    Hits characteristic of a FSU-Miami game started appearing all over the field courtesy of Hamsah Nasirildeen. Another hard hit from Asante Samuel Jr. left the true freshman shaken up on the field and ultimately into the injury tent where he would be evaluated.

    Miami benefitted from a highly questionable pass interference call on Kyle Meyers in the end zone. The Seminole defense would force Miami into a fourth down, but Miami elected to go for it and scored. Freshman corner A.J. Lytton was easily beaten by a slant route, leaving the game tied seven all.

    The FSU offense we’ve become accustomed to reared its ugly head to start the second quarter. After a solid run on first down, Cam Akers tripped up short on second down. The offense moved quickly to the line to try and catch Miami off guard, but the Hurricanes read the Seminoles like a book and stuffed an inside hand off to Akers that Francois should have pulled.

    The defense rebounded forcing Miami into another three-and-out. To this point, the defense was holding Miami to just 3.8 yards per play. Another solid return from D.J. Matthews was negated by a holding penalty on special teams, leaving the ‘Noles to start with its worst field position of the day.

    On the ensuing drive, Francois threw a great deep ball to Tamorrion Terry, but Terry appeared to slow up on his route to avoid a hit. The ball fell to the turf, and Terry took a late hit anyway.

    It seemed like it might be a turning point in favor of Miami, but Florida State’s defense came up huge to get the ball back.

    A strip sack by Brian Burns was recovered by the ‘Noles and the turnover backpack came out to the delight of every Miami fan in attendance. Burns headed to the sideline, stood up on the bench donning the backpack and flashing an upside down U as the boos rained down.

    The only thing of note that came from the offense on the following possession was a scary moment that left Francois on the turf grabbing at his previously injured knee. Francois would head to the tent and James Blackman entered the game for one play, a failed screen to Nyqwan Murray. Ricky Aguayo nailed a 42-yard field goal, putting FSU up 10-7.

    The defense would force its third three-and-out of the game and Matthews would set up FSU with great field position following a 44-yard punt return.

    The offense made the most of the shortened field with a six-play, 36-yard drive capitalized by a 17-yard touchdown pass to Terry to put the ’Noles up 17-7.

    It wouldn’t be FSU-Miami without another altercation.

    Following the touchdown, Miami and FSU players got into a scuffle after Logan Tyler tackled Miami’s Jeff Thomas via the facemask on the kickoff return.

    Florida State took over after a Miami punt and a great catch by Terry gashed the ‘Canes for another 20 yards and ultimately set up a 53-yard field goal by Ricky Aguayo. The junior kicker has rebounded nicely after early season struggles and the 53-yard boot was the longest of his career.

    The Seminoles went to the locker room with a 20-7 halftime lead.

    Miami’s first offensive series of the second half was wrecked by two sacks. Burns and Marvin Wilson swallowed N’Kosi Perry like honey fried chicken on a Friday.

    Matthews would follow up with a 74-yard punt return touchdown to put Florida State up 27-7 early in the third quarter.

    It was about this time that the Florida State we’ve seen all year took over.

    After offsetting penalties, the ‘Noles were forced to replay a third down that went south for the Seminoles. Francois got crushed and coughed up the football, giving Miami the ball on the FSU 20-yard line.

    Another pass interference call in the end zone on Meyers set up the Hurricanes with a chance to score. Samuel Jr. broke up a pass to Miami’s Lawrence Cager to force a fourth down, but the ’Canes ran the same play with Cager getting the better of the smaller cornerback for a touchdown.

    Just seconds later, Francois would be picked off when targeting McKitty on a tight end screen. Miami took over on FSU’s 17-yard line and took just one play to get into the end zone. Two scores in 42 seconds cut Florida State’s lead to just six, 27-21.

    The defensive line continued to do its job. A huge sack from Fred Jones set the ‘Canes back and they would ultimately have to punt. Another poor punt from Miami set FSU up on its 45-yard line. FSU’s average starting field position to this point was their 40.

    Life was injected into the Florida State team when a trick play seemingly saw D.J. Matthews toss a touchdown to Keith Gavin.

    However, the ACC officiating crew ruled that the first pass from Francois to Matthews was a forward pass, negating the score. On the replay it looked to be a backward pass, at the very least lateral, but the play wasn’t reviewed and Ricky Aguayo missed a field goal. The score remained 27-21.

    The lead was quickly wiped out when Miami got the ball. A four-play, 73-yard drive gave Miami the lead. N’Kosi Perry tossed two beautiful balls on the drive, including the 41-yard touchdown pass.

    Florida State had a call go its way when a called fumble on the field was changed to an incomplete pass by Francois, but the Seminoles were forced to punt on the possession anyways.

    A nice punt by Tyler was fielded at the Miami 10-yard line and should have flipped the field, but poor coverage allowed Jeff Thomas to break free for an additional 34 yards. Miami wouldn’t capitalize, though, and the Florida State defense forced another three-and-out, its sixth of the day.

    A missed field goal by Miami gave the ’Noles some hope, but the offense showed no signs of life and left Logan Tyler to punt from the end zone. Miami would run out the clock for the victory, causing Florida State to fall to 3-3 on the season.

    A complete collapse by the Florida State offense squandered a 20-point lead over the Hurricanes.

    Unable to carry the momentum of the first half, the offensive line allowed Miami’s defensive front to run wild. Even when Francois had time, he didn’t capitalize as FSU had just 20 passing yards in the second half.

    This, mixed with a questionable illegal forward pass call, cost the Seminoles a victory in Miami.

    Three things we learned from FSU's loss at Miami

    1. Taggart must take a long look at his QB situation during the bye week

    Willie Taggart knows that a team is only as good as its quarterback. And right now, FSU is a .500 football team with a quarterback who ranks 70th nationally in passer rating (134.55).

    I do not think Deondre Francois is the problem. But with severe limitations along the offensive line, it’s fair to wonder whether Francois’ strengths and weaknesses are what’s best for FSU’s offense and team in general at this time.

    When he’s on and has time, Francois is dangerous. He can uncork a ball and makes a special pass or two each week. But for all the good, there are areas where Francois just hasn’t improved in. He still doesn’t look comfortable running the football, the option attack doesn’t seem to be a regular part of FSU’s game plan (or at least an effective one), and -- as Taggart noted after the game -- Francois can sit back in the pocket too long rather than moving up or even looking to scramble.

    Taggart said in his post-game presser that he didn’t consider going to James Blackman. He’s remained supportive of Francois other times as well, most notably after FSU’s road loss to Syracuse in which Francois was pressured on about half his throws.

    “So you want me to put someone else in there to get hit like that? No, because Deondre wasn’t the problem,” Taggart said back in September.

    And at that time, I think Taggart’s instinct was right. He had to try and sort out a mess at offensive line before he even considered moving on from his quarterback, because he only has two scholarship signal callers on the roster. Once you move on from the redshirt junior for the true sophomore, it’s hard to go back.

    But now, with three more games to add to the equation, my mindset is that it’s worth considering a change. And that’s not truly an indictment on Francois. Rather, I’m trying to factor in the big picture.

    If FSU is going against a team with a poor pass rush or a lower-level opponent, then the Seminoles’ line can hold up enough to highlight Francois’ big arm. But the line -- while improving -- is still awfully thin, so who knows what it looks like in a few weeks. And FSU is about to embark on the back half of a schedule that includes comparable pass rushes as Miami’s (Clemson and Florida both average 3.33 sacks per game, same as Miami). Boston College, N.C. State and Notre Dame are all in the top 50 nationally in sacks per game, so they’re at least above average in this area.

    Operating under the assumption that FSU will only face better defenses moving forward (and specifically, better pass rushes), the question must be asked: Can Francois get markedly better at moving in the pocket, scrambling or getting rid of the ball more quickly to offset an opposing pass rush?

    And if the answer to that is no, FSU must at least explore whether Blackman can bring a different dimension to the offense. Maybe you lose some of the precision Francois demonstrates as a passer, but would the offense look better with a quarterback who can execute option concepts with more consistency (assuming that Blackman is better in this area)? I think some soul searching is required this week.

    2. It is what it is

    The energy and fight FSU displayed against Miami was encouraging. The rivalry game gave the Seminoles a little extra gas and they used it to their advantage in the first half.

    Credit Taggart here, he’s done a good job instilling passion and pride after it was something the program lost under the previous regime.

    With that being said, it’s frustrating to see some of the same problems emerge every week. It’s like groundhog day, with issues continuing to prevent FSU from being a good football team.

    - There’s been almost no growth in the run game this season. FSU’s backs still struggle to generate any explosive plays and the sack-adjusted yards-per-carry average of 3.8 vs. Miami was underwhelming. FSU currently ranks 128th nationally in yards per carry (2.69), behind only Northwestern and San Jose State. San Jose isn’t even a state! The Seminoles have focused on improving the run game, and they’ve failed in this area midway through the season.

    - FSU’s defense is predicated on a high risk, high reward coverage concept. The Seminoles want to dare offenses to take shots downfield and make low-percentage throws in one-on-one coverage. Sometimes, you’ll get burned. But the trade off is that you can pick the ball off and force turnovers. As we saw against Miami, the exchange rate is uneven as FSU’s secondary seemingly gets toasted more often than it makes a big play. Two of Miami’s touchdowns came on chunk plays (15+ yards), and 137 of N’Kosi Perry’s 204 passing yards were accumulated on chunk plays. FSU has allowed 25 completions of 20+ yards this season, 116th nationally. And the Seminoles are averaging a 0.4 picks per game against FBS teams, which is 98th nationally. So there’s a disconnect here that cannot continue if FSU’s defense wants to make the jump from solid to a true strength.

    - Special teams still isn’t an asset. D.J. Matthews had an awesome day, highlighted by a 74-yard punt return for a touchdown, but this unit still has its flaws. Logan Tyler had some bombs (three punts of 50+ yards) and Ricky Aguayo had a 53-yard field goal, but FSU also surrendered punt returns of 49 and 34 yards, and Aguayo had a key field-goal attempt blocked. Outside of Matthews doing something special, I think most of us watching games still hold our collective breath when special teams takes the field.

    - Miami’s defense specializes in playing in the backfield, and that was the case on Saturday. The Hurricanes had 12 tackles for loss and six sacks. You can’t put this on one position group specifically, but the collective has generally been bad for FSU this season. The Seminoles don’t block well, the backs struggle to get north-south with consistency, and Francois doesn’t seem to see the field clearly on reads. The result: FSU ranks second-to-last nationally in tackles for loss allowed per game (9.17).

    At a certain point, we just need to come to the realization that the weaknesses are the weaknesses. There hasn’t truly been sustained growth in any of the aforementioned areas and the schedule isn’t getting easier. There are personnel deficiencies that will not change in-season. Addressing schematic and philosophical concepts in these areas is a must for Taggart moving forward, and he must evaluate whether some changes to his staff are needed in the offseason or if he thinks an infusion of new players will help.

    3. Taggart needs to be more vocal with the officiating crew in-game

    It’s not Taggart’s fault that FSU has been plagued by some poor officiating the last two games.

    The forward pass vs. Miami has to at least be reviewed by the ACC crew, that was brutal. And Taggart let them know he wasn’t happy afterwards, rightfully so.

    But it’s clear that Taggart isn’t getting the benefit of the doubt in recent weeks and I think he needs to start being more demonstrative when there’s a monumental miscue by officials (like not calling a false start vs. Louisville, resulting in a lost play for FSU). This is coming from someone who doesn’t enjoy confrontation, but I believe Taggart should go off on the refs. Let them know they messed up, and then some.

    Maybe don’t go full Jimbo Fisher -- who was used as an example of how not to interact with officials in training sessions -- but Taggart can do more to fight for his team in this area. Does doing so change the ruling of a play? Probably not, but you set a precedent for getting officials to not dismiss you like they seemingly did following the controversial illegal forward pass call vs. Miami.
    Last edited by Ratpenat; 07-10-2018 at 16:58.

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    Florida state vs. Wake forest: Preview

    Wake Forest at Florida State

    Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 20 at 3:30 p.m. ET

    TV: ESPN2

    Bowl eligibility may hang in the balance at Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday Wake Forest and Florida State face off in an ACC Atlantic Division matchup of 3-3 teams. Following a heartbreaking loss to rival Miami and an open date, the Seminoles will look for its seventh straight win over the Demon Deacons on Saturday. The last three meetings, however, have been competitive, with FSU needing a long touchdown pass from James Blackman to Auden Tate to escape in the final minute last season in Winston-Salem, 26-19.

    Wake Forest is coming off its worst performance of the season after getting embarrassed at home against Clemson, 63-3. The loss was the worst for the Demon Deacons under fifth-year head coach Dave Clawson. It also was the most points yielded by Wake Forest since losing 68-24 to Stanford in 2010.

    The last victory for Wake Forest in the series came in 2011, and the last in Tallahassee was a 12-3 victory in 2008. The Demon Deacons haven’t scored a touchdown at Doak Campbell Stadium since 2006, when they shut out the Seminoles, 30-0. FSU’s Willie Taggart will be looking for his first ACC home victory as head coach of the Seminoles.

    Three Things to Watch

    1. FSU rushing offense vs. Wake rush defense

    If ever there was a week for Florida State to get its running game going, it may be Saturday against Wake Forest. The contest will feature the ACC’s worst rushing offense against the conference’s worst rushing defense. There is no shortage of talent in the FSU backfield with Cam Akers and Jacques Patrick, but with a porous offensive line, the Seminoles are averaging less than 93 yards per game on the ground. FSU ranks 126th nationally in rushing and 128th in yards per carry at 2.7. FSU hasn’t rushed for more than 134 yards in any contest and not more than 121 against FBS competition.

    The Demon Deacons are yielding nearly 237 yards per game on the ground and nearly 346 against ACC competition. Wake Forest lost a number of prominent defensive players from last season, such as Duke Ejiofor, Grant Dawson and Jessie Bates. Essang Bassey, a junior cornerback, leads the team in tackles. Last season, Wake Forest held FSU to 140 yards rushing on 3.5 yards per carry and recorded 17 tackles for a loss. It is worth noting that Patrick rushed for 120 yards for the Seminoles.

    2. Greg Dortch

    While Florida State has been stout against the run this season, it has been susceptible to big plays through the air. The player most likely to challenge FSU in this regard on Saturday will be sophomore wide receiver Greg Dortch. Dortch has traditionally been more of possession receiver, but he does a number of things well for the Demon Deacons. For the year, he has 48 catches for 592 yards and five touchdowns.

    With the exception of Alex Bachman’s three touchdowns, Dortch has more than double the next closest Wake receiver in each of the aforementioned categories. In addition to his work as a receiver, Dortch has a nation-leading two punt returns for touchdowns. Dortch finished with 11 catches for 110 yards for the Demon Deacons in last season’s 26-19 loss.

    3. Quarterback play

    Saturday’s contest will feature a pair of quarterbacks who have shined this season but have also struggled as competition has picked up. Wake Forest’s Sam Hartman was one of just a handful of true freshmen throughout the country to get the starting nod at quarterback this season. Hartman was outstanding against the likes of Tulane, Towson and Rice, but against Boston College, Notre Dame and Clemson, he totaled fewer than 400 yards passing, completed fewer than 44 percent of his passes and threw three interceptions to just two touchdowns. FSU isn’t great statistically against the pass but is talented in the secondary and has six interceptions this season.

    For FSU redshirt junior Deondre Francois, the story has been similar. Francois was outstanding in wins over Northern Illinois and Louisville but made costly turnovers in losses to Virginia Tech and most recently, Miami. Francois led game-winning drives in wins over Samford and Louisville and ranks second in the ACC in passing yards and touchdowns. On the other hand, he has struggled with his reads — both in the passing and running game — and his awareness in the pocket.
    Last edited by Ratpenat; 19-10-2018 at 14:38.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ratpenat View Post
    coming soon.......

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    Fsu vs. Wake forest: Recap

    FSU Football: Noles roll Wake Forest for fourth win in 2018

    FSU football needed to beat Wake Forest to keep its bowl hopes alive and they did just that.

    1st Half

    FSU football won the toss and elected to defer to the second half. Wake Forest marched down the field aided by a three third down conversions but had to settle for a 32 yard FG to go up 3-0 with 11:54 left in the first quarter.

    FSU promptly went three and out on their first possession and didn’t look like they practiced during the bye week. Wake Forest took over and moved the ball to mid-field before being forced to punt, pinning FSU on its own 17 yard line.

    The Noles promptly go three and out and punt it away with Wake Forest getting the ball on their own 49. Wake Forest goes 51 yards on nine plays for a touchdown to make it 10-0 with 6:00 to go in the first quarter.

    FSU returns to kickoff to the 16 yard line to begin with poor field position as usual. They finally managed to get a first down before being forced to punt once again. Wake Forest started their drive on their own 26 yard line and promptly marched down the field and went for it on fourth and 8 when clearly in FG territory.

    Brian Burns came up with a huge sack on the play and FSU took over on its own 40 yard line and 60 yards on six plays for a Cam Akers TD run to make it 10-7 with :24 left in the first quarter.

    The ‘Noles defense forced a punt and FSU moved the ball well. Deondre Francois hit Keith Gavin for a huge play and Gavin fumbled the ball into the end zone for a touchback. However, the FSU defense was able to deflect a WF pass and get a Stanford Samuel’s interception deep in Wake Forest territory.

    FSU takes the short field and feeds Jacques Patrick three plays for 14 yards to make it 14-10 with 9:50 left in the second quarter.

    Wake begins their drive on their own 25 and promptly goes three and out with FSU football taking over on their own 27 yard line and of course to three and out as well with a manageable third and six. Logan Tyler with a huge 52 yard punt that puts Wake Forest on their own 24 yard line.

    The Noles forced a punt near midfield on a fourth and one play where I was surprised they didn’t’ go for it. Deondre Francois hit Tamorrion Terry on a huge TD play but it was called back for holding.

    However, the Noles rebounded nicely and moved into the edge of field goal range. However, instead of settling for a long field goal Willie Taggart went for it on fourth and three. Francois hit Nyqwan Murray for a 33 yard touchdown to make it 21-10 with 2:01 left in the second quarter.

    Wake Forest moved the ball to midfield but was forced to punt with :38 second remaining. FSU received the ball with less than :30 seconds remaining but played it fairly conservative before allowing time to run out of the half.

    2nd Half

    FSU football received the ball to start the second half and got a glimpse of something we thought we’d be seeing more of. Cam Akers scored on a huge run on the second play of the second half to make it 28-10 with 14:30 remaining. The FSU defense got a stop on downs on Wake Forest’s first possession of the second half and took over on their 46 yard line. The Noles moved the ball into field goal range and Ricky Aguayo connected on a 49 yard field goal to make it 31-10 with 11:19 remaining.

    Wake Forest couldn’t get much going on their possession as FSU’s defense started pinning their ears back. FSU received the punt and started on their own 18 yard line. The FSU offensive line gave Francois lots of time and he hit Nyqwan Murray for a couple of big gains. D.J. Matthews also got in the mix before the Noles had to settle for a 38 yard Aguayo field goal that he missed wide right.

    Wake Forest had nothing doing on their possession and was forced to punt with FSU’s drive starting on their own 39 yard line. The Noles had nothing doing on their possession with Logan Tyler launching a 43 yard punt that pinned Wake Forest on their own 15 yard line. The FSU defense shut them down again with Wake Forest playing their backup quarterback.

    The Noles began their drive on their own 23 yard line with Francois hitting Cam Akers for a nice 16 yard gain to end the third quarter. However, the Noles had to punt shortly thereafter but it was good to see a couple of reserve players like Pops Upshur and Keyshawn Helton with receptions.

    FSU’s defense forced Wake Forest to punt and the Noles saw Deondre Francois connect with true freshman Tre’Shaun Harrison for a 21 yard TD to make it 38-10. The game was basically over at this point with 9:43 remaining in the game. FSU football went on to win 38-17.


    It was a rough start but it was great to see the Noles bounce back after getting punched in the mouth. The FSU defense absolutely shut down Wake Forest’s offense after giving up the first 10 points of the game.

    The FSU offense did was it was supposed to do against one of the worst defenses in the country. FSU football needs two more wins in the next five games to become bowl eligible.

    They’ll welcome Clemson to Tallahassee next Saturday with a noon kickoff.


    The best moment of the game was when LB Janarius Robinson corralled Wake Forest's Jamie Newman for a 6-yard loss, then took a knee after the play. It was his first big play since Hurricane Matthew destroyed his family's Panama City home.

    QB Deondre Francois delivered another solid effort (29-of-40 passing, 353 yards and two touchdowns). Imagine how he'd do if he didn't have opposing linemen in his face on almost every snap.

    Murray continues strong senior season. While a number of FSU wideouts have had breakout seasons, Nyqwan Murray has been FSU's most consistent wide receiver. That continued Saturday as he finished with 131 yards on eight catches against the Demon Deacons.

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