There were large portions of this week when we forgot the obvious: Florida State still has a game on Saturday.
The gut punch came early for players with the dismissal of coach Willie Taggart on Sunday. It’s far different from the Friday see-ya that Jimbo Fisher did almost two years ago. Players have had time to re-focus and practice for Boston College.
These Seminoles have been through so much. Veteran offensive players have had Fisher, Randy Sanders, Willie Taggart and Kendal Briles call plays. Any junior on the offensive line or at receiver has had three position coaches in three years. Add on that kind of stress to the normal challenges of being a student-athlete.
It’s with genuine curiosity that we wonder what version of the Seminoles will show up. Will they show heart and character? Will they play harder for interim head coach Odell Haggins? Will they fight Boston College for every yard on the ground? Will they do it for four quarters?
Will the Briles offense look different with Taggart gone? How much did Briles and Taggart clash over personnel decisions, substitutions and play-calling? Do we see Alex Hornibrook or James Blackman? And do we see considerably more of the wildcat with Cam Akers?
Does the defense keep the 3-4 looks, even with Marvin Wilson out? Or do the Seminoles show more 4-3? Who starts in place of Wilson? And how much of a role does Jim Leavitt have on the defense and what position does he coach?
That’s roughly 12 questions. For a game that involves a pair of teams that aren’t yet bowl-eligible, there are a good number of storylines for an early November conference matchup.
And we may think we know some of the answers. But back up, read them again and try. How many do you feel solid that you know the answers?
Here’s my attempt. We see Hornibrook, who seems to be favored by Briles. But we see a ton of Akers in the wildcat. And Khalan Laborn. Plus some new plays, things Briles hasn’t tried out yet. Why not? The Seminoles’ backs are against the wall.
FSU will show heart on defense but will be overmatched by BC’s ground game. The Eagles will rack up yards. What you hope for is a few stops on third down, especially early on drives. Don’t let BC coach Steve Addazio think he can go for it on fourth-and-1 on the FSU side of the field. Because you can’t give the Eagles four downs to get 10 yards.
Will FSU win? Predicting that has become almost impossible in 2019. If the Seminoles play like the personality of their head coach and fight like Haggins did as an All-American defensive tackle then they will have a fighting chance. If not, then no.
It’s perfectly understandable if you’ve lost any optimism with this year’s team. Saturdays have rarely been fun. But this one has some very intriguing storylines, certainly plenty that are worth watching with genuine curiosity.