TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State coach Willie Taggart met with the media Monday to further discuss last week’s loss to Clemson and look ahead to Saturday’s visit to North Carolina State. Here are highlights from that conversation.
Further clarification: After losing to Clemson, Taggart said in his press conference that he felt some players quit on their team. Taggart didn’t walk back those comments on Monday, but did elaborate on them.
“After the game, going home and watching the North Carolina State-Syracuse game, and then watching our film from Clemson, I felt there was a handful of players that didn’t play up to our standards and didn’t do the thing we expect out of them. …
“We addressed it internally, and we’re going to make sure that we continue to build a culture and a program the way we want to, the way I know how. And we’re going to make sure we have individuals in here that are going to live up to those standards, that are always going to be great teammates who are going to compete, and guys that are going to put FSU first.”
Taggart declined to name specific players who had fallen short of that standard, but reiterated that when the Seminoles faced adversity against the Tigers, they didn’t respond in appropriate fashion.
“Whenever you’re out on the football field, if you’re not competing, then you’re in the wrong spot,” he said. “We didn’t get that out of a handful of guys.”
Murray, White to miss first half at NC State: Taggart did, however, offer specific repercussions for two players ejected during the Clemson game.
Senior receiver Nyqwan Murray and redshirt freshman linebacker Zaquandre White each received unsportsmanlike conduct penalties after throwing punches at opposing players, and each will miss the first half against NC State as a result.
“The guys that threw punches, they won’t be playing in the first half of the next game,” Taggart said.
Murray leads the Seminoles in catches (40), receiving yards (536) and receiving touchdowns (3), while White has 12 tackles.
Only a handful: While the ‘Q’ word makes headlines, Taggart wants to be clear about one thing: The vast majority of Florida State’s players are doing things the right way and doing everything asked of them.
In fact, when asked to list some of the players setting a proper example, Taggart said, “There’s so many of them, it’s hard to name them all without forgetting somebody.”
“We had the majority of our guys doing the things we want to,” he continued. “It was only a handful of guys (that weren’t), and it only takes a handful (to) mess up the whole thing that’s going on. …Kind of like bad eggs, it’ll mess it up for everyone.”
Taggart, however, was asked specifically about defensive linemen Marvin Wilson and Brian Burns and, no surprise, they’re included in that majority.
Taggart called Burns “Mr. Consistent,” while referring to Wilson as “the definition of what we want a Florida State player to look like.”
Francois day-to-day: Quarterback Deondre Francois left Saturday’s game with an injury and, per Taggart, is day-to-day.
Taggart said Saturday that it appeared Francois hit his head on the ground, but has since offered no further updates on the nature of his injury.
“He’s beat up,” Taggart said. “He took some hits in that game and I’m sure, understandably, he’s beat up after a physical ballgame.”
Taggart didn’t seem too concerned about Francois’ availability Saturday, but did say that he’ll need to practice this week if he’s going to play against NC State.
If Francois can’t go, the Seminoles will likely turn to sophomore James Blackman, who started 12 games in relief of an injured Francois in 2017. Blackman this season has completed 4 of 5 passes for 89 yards and a touchdown.
“We’re going to assess that throughout the week and see where (Francois) is, but you’ve got to practice,” Taggart said. “You’ve got to get the majority of the reps to be able to go play like we need him to play.”
Beyond Francois, Taggart said that freshman defensive tackle Robert Cooper and sophomore tight end Nasier Upshur will both miss the NC State game with injuries, and that linebacker Dontavious Jackson, cornerback Levonta Taylor and safety Stanford Samuels III are all day-to-day.
Another quality QB on tap: If Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence is the best quarterback the Seminoles have faced his season, NC State’s Ryan Finley probably isn’t far behind.
Finley, a former transfer from Boise State, leads the ACC in passing yards (2,250), completions (177) and completion percentage (66.8), and his 149.8 passer rating is 14th nationally among players from Power 5 conferences.
The Wolfpack has done an exceptional job keeping Finley clean, too – they’ve surrendered only four sacks all season.
Taggart said that the Seminoles will need to pressure Finley and that, to do that, his defensive front will need to win some one-on-one matchups with NC State’s offensive linemen.
“We feel like we have a talented d-line that can win some of those battles, and we’re going to have to in order to get him,” Taggart said. “He’s a really good quarterback, and (they’ve) got really good schemes to get the ball out into his guys’ hands.”