The start of the Willie Taggart era in Tallahassee has been quite the shitshow. The Florida State Seminoles entered this season ranked 20th, yet three weeks into the season, they’re 1-2 and look like they’ll struggle to even make a bowl game. Jimbo Fisher’s final season with the Seminoles went poorly, and the start of Taggart’s era has shown there’s more keeping the program from serious ACC contention than the knee injury and coaching issues that held them back last year.
FSU’s main problem is that they can’t score. They dropped their first game of the season 24-3 at home to Virginia Tech, in a truly disastrous game where the Seminoles looked perplexed by Taggart’s scheme and utterly overmatched by a team the polls saw as roughly equal to the Seminoles before the season started. The Seminoles had exactly one big play in that game, an 85-yard run by Cam Akers that was promptly squandered on a rather avoidable fumble a few plays later.
FSU’s only win so far was against FCS school Samford in Week 2. The team needed a fourth-quarter comeback to seal the result at 36-26, even though the Bulldogs turned over the ball five times.
On Saturday, FSU traveled to Syracuse, where they were soundly annihilated, 30-7. If the first two games suggested that the worst was still ahead, this confirmed the hypothesis. It’s the first time FSU has lost to Syracuse since 1966, and the Seminoles failed to score until the last few minutes of the game, when they were already down 23-0. Deondre Francois was sacked four times and barely had any time to throw against a defense that wasn’t exactly a world-beating unit. The Orange lost their starting QB in the first half, and backup Tommy DeVito was still able to comfortably slice up the Seminole defense.
Perhaps the easiest diagnosis to make here is that FSU’s offensive line is horrendously ineffective. FSU’s line has been shaky for years, but the group has reached a new low this season. This is just gross:
Francois was rightly pissed.
FSU has consistently recruited at an elite level, though as Tom Fornelli pointed out, they have not brought in or retained a lot of offensive line talent in the past five years. However, they’ve also struggled because Taggart’s offensive philosophy of “lethal simplicity” has shown itself to be utterly ineffective thus far. For all of FSU’s talent at the skill positions, Taggart hasn’t yet found a way to use it.
The Seminoles will soon get into the meat of their schedule, which features a tough ACC stretch and a trip to Notre Dame. Taggart’s got a hell of a job ahead of him. At today’s press conference, he asked for patience, which is reasonable given how banged up FSU’s offensive line is. Taggart has turned around Western Kentucky and South Florida before, but unlike those directional schools, the expectations at Florida State are much higher.