Monday Mailbag: Boise State, Harlon Barnett, FSU’s record

Well, what else can you say? Two days removed from one of the biggest collapses in Florida State football history, the belief in head coach Willie Taggart and his coaching staff is hurtling towards an all-time low. The Seminoles actually looked like they’d turned a corner for a half but it all came crashing and burning down in the final 30 minutes.

We’ve already seen a ton of criticism from fans and former ‘Noles across social media. That’s not looking like it’s going to change anytime soon unless FSU can get it back together and quickly. The ‘Noles will play UL-Monroe at home in week two before traveling to Virginia, a preseason dark horse to come out on top of the ACC Coastal division.

Let’s see what we have in the mailbag today as we get ready to move on to Louisiana-Monroe.

Why do we have 6-foot-5, 250-pound true defensive ends covering 20 yards downfield? – @austinstinson6

Man, I was wondering the same exact thing after Boise State isolated its tight ends against Joshua Kaindoh and Janarius Robinson in coverage. Both times, the two defensive ends were burned for a big gain by TE John Bates.

FSU’s defense is going to have to go back to the drawing board. If they can’t count on their EDGE defenders to stick with their man in limited coverage opportunities, the current version of this 3-4 might not even be viable.

Where does Harlon Barnett stand? He’s had plenty of chances. – @noleshighlights

Well, I know for sure he’s not in great standing with the fanbase after Saturday. The Seminoles allowed 621 total yards and didn’t have an answer for a Boise State offense led by a true freshman quarterback in his first collegiate game. Hank Bachmeier finished with over 400 passing yards, making FSU pay again and again for sloppy coverage down the field.

At times, the defense was the lone bright spot in 2018. However, It was the glaring weakness in the opening game of Taggart’s second season. If Barnett can’t get his defense on the same page soon, it may be time to part ways with the former Michigan State defensive coordinator. Either way, I’m sure it’ll be a tough decision for Taggart.

Will we bounce back from the loss to Boise State or will this season be like last year? – @jackson_shivers23

That’s what makes these times both exciting and unnerving. We don’t really know. Last season, Florida State wasn’t very mentally tough and you saw that throughout the season.

Unfortunately, that same mentality was on display in the second half. At the first sign of adversity, the Seminoles essentially crumbled whereas the Broncos did the complete opposite.

The next two games should go a long way into telling us what kind of team we’ll see this season. UL-Monroe pounded the ball for 315 yards on the ground in week one so this defense needs to be ready for another physical affair.

Do you think they’ll bounce back the next two games? Should more freshmen play? – @lil_lloyd386

I think Florida State certainly can bounce back. It’s going to come down to whether the coaching staffs message is actually being listened to by the players. After losing like they did Saturday, you have to wonder if everyone is going to stay focused and bought in.

If not, as you referenced in your question, there are plenty of hungry true freshmen that signed with Taggart with the goal to revitalize the program.

Should we still have hope for the season? – @datboidrew

Absolutely, the Seminoles have a much less rigorous schedule than in 2018 and the offense has already shown some signs of being lightyears ahead of where it was under Walt Bell’s control.

If the defense can find its rhythm after that Boise State game and be even average, I think this team still will get to a bowl game in 2019.

What could’ve possibly happened in the second half? Why do you think it happened? – @even.jonathan

I’m not sure if the team got complacent and thought the Broncos were just going to let themselves get run over or just went away from what was working. I do know that it was really staggering to witness a collapse of that magnitude.

To me, it seemed like the defense failed to make any adjustments while I thought the offense started taking a lot of deep shots without allowing James Blackman to get a rhythm. Again, this team needs to work on its consistency. They need to play like the team we saw in the first half.

What are the two biggest things to improve on coming off of the Boise State game? – @jamesrocco5

Everything on defense and identifying what changed in the second half for the offense.

Is Taggart against changing quarterbacks in a game? – @graytouchton

If you would’ve asked me this last season, I’d have given this question merit. But what did you think James Blackman did wrong to be pulled in the game? He finished 23/33 with over 300 passing yards, three touchdowns, and zero interceptions.

What do you think of the offensive line after Saturday’s game? – @sarah_shelton_24

Like the majority of the team, I thought most of their positives came during the first half. On most of his long passes, Blackman had a ton of time in the pocket to pump-fake and survey the field before delivering strikes.

The running game also had some breakthroughs after being on life support for much of 2018. Cam Akers finished with 15 carries for 116 yards and a touchdown. The 116 yards were more than any FSU running back recorded during any game last season.

Can the first half of the BSU game be the salvageable part of week one? – @even.jonathan

It’s got to be, there’s no other option if FSU is going to have a successful season. Watch the second half, figure out what went wrong, and burn the tape.

What do you think FSU’s record will be now? – @850_owen

Prior to the Boise State game, I had Florida State finishing 2019 at 8-4. For now, I’m going to stick with basically the same record and say 7-5. I think the ‘Noles have two almost guaranteed losses in Clemson and Florida and then two losses out of NC State, Miami, Syracuse, and Boston College.

Do you feel we can beat Virginia? – @rsheiman

Absolutely, the Cavaliers have one of their best football teams in years enter 2019 but I’m not as convinced on their offensive playmakers as most. It’s going to take a hell of an effort from Florida State’s defense to regroup before this game and get on the same page. If they can do that and limit UVA’s star quarterback Bryce Perkins’ legs by keeping him in the pocket and forcing him to beat the ‘Noles with his arm, it’ll give them a good shot.

Virginia has also developed a solid defense under head coach Bronco Mendenhall that held Pittsburgh to just 14 points and 78 yards on the ground on Saturday. It’s going to be imperative for Kendal Briles to get his unit to play a complete game.

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