Florida State’s future head football coach was likely watching all or part of Saturday night’s game.
The long road ahead to fixing systemic problems is painfully obvious, regardless of who FSU administrators hire for the job.
FSU interim head coach Odell Haggins was happy with the fight of the players in the 40-17 loss at Florida. But the Seminoles’ play left plenty to be desired.
Penalties, a season-long problem, were more of an offensive issue and again either made drives impossible, aided Florida’s scoring attempts or negated a special teams fumble recovery.
The Seminoles hit the trifecta. But instead, they will pay for it when finals are over and bowl practices resume.
“We’re going to run for it,” Haggins said of punishment for individuals who committed mental-mistake penalties. “The gassers that I implemented. We’re going to run for it. Each penalty, we’re going to run for it. It goes back to creating great habits when things get tough. Either you’re going to move forward or you’re going to move back with the habits. We’re going to address that.”
That’s step 1 for FSU. Few do it worse than the Seminoles, who have been penalized for 881 yards – yes, nearly nine football fields – in 12 games. FSU is 126th among the 130 FBS teams in that area. And it hurts all three phases, from offense to defense to special teams.
On Saturday, FSU’s offense had a false start on its first drive. In the second quarter, there was even an illegal formation on a Seminoles punt.
“We just had too many penalties and didn’t get into the tempo we needed,” quarterback James Blackman said. “We didn’t come out and execute at a high level.”
Step 2 is keeping the quarterback upright. FSU has allowed 44 sacks, 125th among FBS teams. The Seminoles must continue to develop young prospects like Dontae Lucas and Darius Washington, building around them with some quick fixes (hello, transfer portal) as well as long-term development (recruiting).
Step 3 is two-fold: Pass defense. FSU is 120th in the FBS, allowing 283 passing yards per game. The Seminoles generated 29 sacks, which ranks 44th in the FBS, but they didn’t get a sack against Florida (that followed up one sack at BC and two sacks vs. Miami). The Seminoles must generate some kind of pass rush, be it from the edge, up the middle, linebackers or more exotic options like safety or corner pressure.
The weeks ahead
What’s ahead for FSU’s players? Studying and finals. A schedule for bowl practices likely won’t be set until the Seminoles know where they will be headed in the postseason.
What’s ahead for FSU’s coaches? Recruiting. The early signing period runs from Dec. 19-21.
It’s also possible that FSU will introduce a coach in the coming days. With the exception of Memphis’ Mike Norvell and FAU’s Lane Kiffin, all of the active coaching candidates who have been linked to FSU are not playing in conference title games. Memphis plays host to Cincinnati on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. (ABC) and FAU will host UAB on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.
Players and coaches are now waiting until the bowl selections are made on Sunday, Dec. 8. Not much has changed overall, but here is a rundown:
ESPN.com has FSU headed to the Birmingham Bowl to play Tulane on Jan. 2.
SportingNews.com has FSU playing Illinois in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 27.
The ACC will announce the league’s award winners during the Packer and Durham morning show Monday-Thursday on the ACC Network. The Jacobs Blocking Trophy, Tatum Award and Piccolo Award will be announced on Monday, followed by the All-ACC team on Tuesday. The ACC players of the year and rookies of the year will be named Wednesday and the ACC coach of the year on Thursday.
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