Odell Haggins has been around the Florida State-Florida rivalry for more than 30 years.
Through the wins, losses and even a memorable tie 25 years ago, Haggins has seen a little of everything as an All-American football player, assistant coach and now the interim head coach.
“It’s a very intense football game,” Haggins said. “You better be ready to play because both sides are going to be ready. That’s how it is when Florida State and Florida play. Throughout the nation, there are going to be a lot of people watching this game. But the intensity level, that’s what I remember.”
FSU (6-5) has won seven of the last nine games in the series with Florida going into Saturday’s game at 7:30 p.m. at the Swamp.
Haggins was asked about the first game he played in Gainesville, a 28-14 victory in 1987. FSU held Florida to 207 offensive yards – including 93 yards on the ground.
“They jumped up 14-3 and we had to come back to win that football game,” Haggins said. “That was an intense hard-hitting game. That was a battle. I will never forget that. It was a battle.”
Haggins said that running back Cam Akers (hand) and offensive lineman Andrew Boselli (ankle) will be good to play against Florida.
Haggins said he discusses personnel decisions with offensive coordinator Kendal Briles frequently. As far as who will start for the Seminoles – James Blackman, Alex Hornibrook or Jordan Travis – Haggins said that will be decided later in the week.
“Every day we practice, we compete,” Haggins said. “We’re going to find out who’s playing the best in practice – that’s who is going to play.”
FSU will practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Assistant coaches will host players in their position groups for a Thanksgiving meal.
“Florida State is built on family,” Haggins said. “That’s what I want our kids to do. Go out and have fun with their coaches and the wives and the kids. We’re just going to have a good time.”