TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State head coach Willie Taggart met with the media Monday to further discuss last week’s game at No. 25 Virginia and preview the Seminoles’ upcoming home game against Louisville.
Here are highlights from that conversation.
Kaindoh out for year, other player updates: The Seminoles hoped for the best when defensive end Joshua Kaindoh was carted off during Saturday’s game at Virginia, but Taggart confirmed Monday that Kaindoh’s injury is significant. He’ll miss the remainder of the season with what Taggart called a “lower body, ankle injury.”
The news will be difficult to swallow, both for Kaindoh and for Florida State’s defense.
The junior Baltimore native has dealt with injuries for much of his career, but was off to a healthy and encouraging start in 2019.
And although Taggart believes that the Seminoles will be able to absorb Kaindoh’s absence, there’s no doubt they’ll miss him. The 6-7, 261-pounder is tied for the team lead with 2.5 tackles for loss, and he was expected to be one of FSU’s most reliable pass-rushers throughout the year.
Taggart said that Kaindoh remained in good spirits despite the news.
“He has faith in knowing things are going to get better,” Taggart said.
Beyond Kaindoh, Taggart said that left tackle Jauan Williams is “week-by-week” as he recovers from an ankle injury suffered against ULM, and that cornerback Stanford Samuels III “should be fine” after picking up some bumps and bruises at UVA.
And D.J. Matthews, who missed last week’s game after failing to meet team expectations, practiced on Sunday.
Taggart still happy with endgame play-calling: Given another 24 hours to reflect, Taggart is still happy with FSU’s last play call at Virginia.
Like then, he still just wishes it had worked.
“We called a play, there was four seconds left,” Taggart said. “We didn’t execute, lost the ball game.
“I thought it was a good play call.”
Taggart later implied that the particular play might have had some other elements to it, and that the Seminoles could maybe use it again in the future.
“It’s not what you all think it was, I’ll put it that way,” he said. “We just didn’t execute it. It was a good play call.”
Leavitt to be move involved: Senior defensive analyst Jim Leavitt joined the FSU staff on Wednesday, attended his first practice on Thursday and flew with the team to Charlottesville, Va., on Friday. That’s a whirlwind of a schedule for even the most seasoned of coaches and, as a result, Taggart said that Leavitt’s reach during Saturday’s game didn’t extend very far.
“Not much he could do other than watch what was going on,” Taggart said.
That, however, could change this week as Leavitt gets more acclimated with his surroundings and has more time to assist the Seminoles’ defensive staff with its preparation.
“I think Jim will be a little more involved this week now that he’s here and has a little better understanding of what’s going on and what we’re doing and how we’re doing things,” Taggart said.
“I’m sure he can put some input in, from his experience and what he sees on film.”
Time for time of possession: It’s likely no coincidence that Virginia scored 21 points in the fourth quarter of a game in which its offense held the ball for nearly 40 minutes.
That the Cavaliers dominated time of possession was no surprise – they’re among the nation’s leaders in it, while FSU’s hurry-up offense isn’t designed to keep the ball for very long.
But Taggart also felt that it played a role in the defense’s struggles over the last 15 minutes of the game.
“I thought in this game, the fourth quarter, they were tired,” he said.
Through three games, FSU ranks last in the country in total time of possession. Taggart doesn’t believe that’s been a major issue throughout the season, or that it will continue to be a problem over the next nine games. But it factored into the equation in Charlottesville.
“I think each one of those ball games, in the fourth quarter, they have been different situations,” he said. “So I can’t sit here and say our guys have been tired in the fourth quarter for the first three ballgames and that’s why we’re playing the way we are.”
That said, Taggart would like to see the offense make some improvements in that area moving forward.
“I do think we need more than 20 minutes of time of possession as an offense,” he said. “Whether we’re scoring a lot (or not), we still need more than 20 minutes time of possession. So we can be better from that standpoint.”
Run-heavy Louisville approaches: Coming of a 2-10 season that led to a coaching change, expectations for the 2019 Louisville Cardinals weren’t very high.
But coach Scott Satterfield has made college football pundits rethink those questions. The Cardinals are 2-1 after lopsided wins over Eastern Kentucky and Western Kentucky, and UL held its own for much of a first-week loss to Notre Dame.
The Cardinals rank 17th nationally in rushing yards per game (260.3), with freshman Javian Hawkins second only to FSU’s Cam Akers in ACC rushing.
“Obviously they’re doing a good job of running the football,” Taggart said. “I think whenever you can run the football, it always gives you a chance to win ball games. They’re doing a good job with it and know who they are and what they want to be, and that’s what they’re doing.”