October 21, 2019 - by
Five Takeaways From Willie Taggart’s Syracuse Press Conference

WATCH: Willie Taggart press conference, Oct. 21

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State coach Willie Taggart met with the media Monday to recap last week’s loss at Wake Forest and preview Saturday’s homecoming game against Syracuse (3:30 p.m., ESPN2). Here are highlights from that conversation.

Taggart has influence on play-calling, but no major changes to approach: With rumors flying around that Taggart might have had a bigger hand in play-calling duties than usual last week, Monday’s first question asked if anything had changed regarding FSU’s play-calling responsibilities.

Taggart, however, said that wasn’t the case, and added that he thought offensive coordinator Kendal Briles called “a good game.”

“It hasn’t been different than any other thing I’ve done all year long,” he said. “I’m always involved on both side of the ball.”

The Seminoles out-gained Wake Forest, 449-424, and average more than 400 yards of offense per game.

No news on starting QB, but Taggart pleased with Blackman: After reviewing the game film, Taggart felt that, although not perfect, quarterback James Blackman played well enough for the Seminoles to win.

Blackman threw for 280 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, although Taggart said that the interception was due to a missed block that allowed Blackman to be hit as he threw.

“I thought he was doing a good job for us,” Taggart said, “He moved us down the field, and we didn’t get in the end zone. It’s not rocket science or anything. He didn’t do anything to kill us. … I thought he did a good job running the offense.”

Still, Taggart declined to confirm whether Blackman will start against Syracuse. Reserve Alex Hornibrook had appeared in three consecutive games, but did not play against Wake.

“We’ll see Saturday,” Taggart said.

Receivers have to step up with Wilson out: Taggart confirmed what he thought on Saturday, which is that receiver Ontaria Wilson will be out for an extended period of time due to an injury suffered at Wake Forest.

The timing is unfortunate, as the Seminoles lost fellow receiver Keyshawn Helton to a season-ending knee injury last week at Clemson.

The two make up 23.6 percent of FSU’s receiving production. In their absence, the Seminoles will likely have to turn to some younger receivers to fill out their rotation. That group could include Tre’Shaun Harrison, who has gotten an increased workload in recent weeks, as well as Warren Thompson.

“It’s a long season,” Taggart said, “and sure enough, unfortunately, we’ve had some injuries that are going to cause a lot of guys to play more. And they’ve got to be ready for it.

“But they’re very talented. They’re going to have a great week of practice and preparation, and then we as coaches got to believe in them and put them out there and let them go do what they came here to do.”

Banged-up linemen expected to be OK: Despite all those injuries, Florida State seems to have avoided major problems up front, as both center Baveon Johnson and left guard Brady Scott are OK after leaving last week’s game with unspecified ailments.

Taggart said Monday that both linemen are day-to-day.

He also felt that reserves Andrew Boselli and Cole Minshew did a nice job in their absences.

“I liked what I saw,” Taggart said. “(Minshew) has played in a lot of ballgames, and to have him in there along with his spread and size and experience is always helpful.”

Focus only on Syracuse – not big picture: With the Seminoles 3-4 and the calendar inching toward November, it’s easy to look at the schedule ahead and ponder FSU’s path to a bowl bid.

And how the Seminoles manage their next four games before their Nov. 23 open date – Syracuse, Miami, at Boston College, Alabama State – will likely determine that path.

Taggart, though, insisted that neither he nor his team is thinking about anything other than what’s directly ahead: a home game against a 3-4 Syracuse team that has yet to beat a Power 5 opponent this season.

Despite their tribulations, the Orange played close games against NC State and Pittsburgh, having lost each by one possession.

“We’re not even thinking about the next stretch,” Taggart said. “We’re thinking about Syracuse. We can’t think about all those things. We’ve got to win a ballgame, and Syracuse is right in front of us, and it would be disrespectful to look ahead of those guys.

“And we’ve got to find a way to win now, or those things that we’re talking about won’t happen. We’ve got to stay in right now and find a way to be 1-0 after this (game). And then we’ll move on from there.”

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