Monday Mailbag: FSU’s collapse, the ‘illegal’ forward pass, and bye week

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Florida State got off to the kind of start no one expected in a rivalry game against Miami. The Seminoles led 20-7 after the first half and tacked on another seven points early in the third quarter after a punt return. Unfortunately, FSU’s offense found no success in the final 30 minutes and finished with less than 50 total yards after the break. The struggles on offense ultimately caused the `Noles to fall 28-27 to the Hurricanes.

The second half was a disaster, there’s no doubt about that. However, I think you have to give credit to this team with how they came out and battled. Miami simply found ways to frustrate Florida State’s offensive line as the game went on and it led to mistakes on offense. Regardless of how the game ended, I believe there’s cause for some optimism.

The Seminoles defense was up for the challenge against Miami despite dealing with poor field position. I thought the special teams, namely punt return, had its best game of the season. The blocking was a lot better and it allowed DJ Matthews to make plays. On offense, FSU was able to find success for a half against one of the best defenses on its schedule and I also believe the whole game changes if the illegal forward pass is called correctly.

Why do we suck? – @Benmorgan34

You call it sucking, I call it incremental improvement. Do you remember when Florida State got blasted by Virginia Tech, barely scraped by against Stanford, and then got blasted again by Syracuse? I have a question for you, what’d you expect on Saturday? The Seminoles entered the game as almost two-touchdown underdogs against a Miami team that had won four straight games.

A lot of people were even expecting the Hurricanes to blow FSU out of the water. Instead, this team played its best game of the season. They fought their asses off for that win and it should make you proud to be a fan. Yeah, they came up short against a better team. Yeah, the offense collapsed in the second half. But no one expected them to be at that point anyway.

If anything, this should excite you for the final half of the season. This team is getting better at Willie Taggart’s system every game and I’m interested to see what they look like in game 12 and maybe even game 13.

Why didn’t we ask for an official review of the call of an illegal forward pass? – Elprofe Trol

It’s not within the rules to challenge a penalty in college football. Taggart was talking to the ref on Florida State’s sideline for a review but for some reason, the officiating crew didn’t want to do it. Now, I do believe the Seminoles should’ve called a timeout which would’ve given Taggart a chance to chat with the whole crew to try and spark a review, but the refs have to initiate it.

The game changes if they do their job, unfortunately, they didn’t and it likely cost FSU the game.

What has been the general attitude of the team now that two days have gone by since the loss? Are they still fighting and playing for each other? – Chase Dickson

Unlike last season when there was some division in the locker room, Taggart and his staff have brought this team closer together than they ever have been before. No one has given up, no one is blaming anyone. It’s all about working together and continuing to try to right the ship.

A lot of players have already posted on social media about the game and how it’s motivated them for the bye week. We won’t truly know how much its affected them until Florida State takes the field against Wake Forest.

With UF, Miami, and UCF all ranked right now, do you believe FSU will continue to be “fourth best” in the state for years to come – @ErikR122

No. Florida State is closer than a lot of people believe, as I mentioned above, I’m interested to see how this team continues to grow through the rest of the season. It’s vital for Taggart and his staff to land some offensive linemen and linebackers that can have an impact early, but for the most part, a lot of the key players on FSU will be back next season.

The offense would look a lot better if the offensive line was even average. It’s not, which is making most of this look worse than it really is. Give it time. I know it’s hard to be patient with the legacy this program has, but it’s simply what you have to do right now.

Will Willie evaluate the QB position during the bye week and look into giving Blackman a shot? – @TWILL_23

It’s a possibility, but I don’t see a change happening at quarterback unless Deondre Francois’ knee injury is more serious than originally expected. What changes with Blackman at quarterback? Either way, the offensive line is going to get whoever’s back there beat up.

Francois has played well this season. He’s missed some reads, Blackman would miss some as well. We always think the grass is greener on the other side. If that was truly the case, don’t you think the coaching staff would make the switch? Why wouldn’t they play the best players they believe give FSU a better chance to win games?

What are the three biggest things that you think the team can improve during the bye week? – Chase Dickson

Six games in, you are what you are at this point. There’s not a whole lot that can change. That said, there are definitely areas that Florida State can work on this week to better during the second half of the season.

I think this offensive coaching staff can definitely do better with the running back rotation. Jacques Patrick was the hot hand on Saturday but FSU went away from him in favor of Cam Akers as the game went on. On a couple of third and shorts, Akers got stuffed. In the first half, Patrick got those tough carries and battled for first downs. If a player is hot, keep him involved and keep feeding him. The `Noles have to do a better job of keeping its running backs in a rhythm and that starts with knowing when to rotate them.

On defense, it’s gotta be working with the defensive backs, and even linebackers, on getting their heads back around on passes. Florida State’s DBs gave up multiple penalties, big plays, and touchdowns on plays where they simply didn’t turn around and fight for the ball in the air. I think the unit could’ve forced some turnovers, or at least more incompletions, with a little more awareness once the quarterback releases a pass.

As for number three, I’m going to go with the defense again. Florida State held an elite Miami rushing attack in check, allowing just 102 yards on 46 carries (2.2 YPC). However, I do believe there’s room for improvement with tackling. The Hurricanes few runs that found success was mainly due to the `Noles missing multiple tackles. Just like a week ago when Harlon Barnett worked with his unit on recovering fumbles, they should be working hard during the bye week and prior to Wake Forest on getting better at wrapping up and stopping ball carriers.

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