To new Florida State coach Willie Taggart, the struggles of the 2017 Seminoles weren’t because of injuries or a talent shortage, but rather a lack of perseverance. It was a pointed appraisal of the team, then under the leadership of former FSU coach Jimbo Fisher, now at Texas A&M.
“We were a very talented football team, one of the most talented football teams out there,” Taggart said at the ACC Kickoff. “Talent wasn’t an issue, but we weren’t a football team that handled adversity well.”
Florida State had its share of adversity, starting with the season-ending knee injury to quarterback Deondre Francois in the season-opening loss to Alabama and ending with the departure of Fisher after the Florida game. Taggart was hired in December from Oregon. The preseason No. 3 team in the country in 2017, FSU finished the season 7-6, needing a win over Louisiana-Monroe to earn bowl eligibility.
Taggart said upon his arrival, he didn’t sense teammates’ commitment to each other.
“Usually, when you don’t handle adversity well as a team, (it is because) you don’t care enough about each other,” he said. “I didn’t feel like our team cared enough about each other to overcome the adversity, to overcome those tough times.”
Taggart attributed that to team members not knowing each other well. He said he was surprised at how little some players who had been on the team for four years knew about teammates. As a result, he instituted methods for players to know each other better.
“You would be shocked if you heard some of the stories of what some of these kids have been through, and it amazes you for them to go through some of the things they’ve been through and still play at a high level and be here in college and accomplish some of the things they’re doing,” he said.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.