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Willie Taggart addresses changing the culture, living up to the FSU standard, and holding players accountable for quitting in game against Clemson

“It only takes a handful that can mess up the whole thing that’s going on.”

NCAA Basketball: Loyola-Maryland at Florida State Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

During Monday’s weekly press conference, Willie Taggart spoke in length about how he will handle the actions of the few that further tainted Saturday's blowout loss to Clemson. While he didn’t get too specific about potential depth chart changes, he did mention that the two players who got ejected for punching are suspended for the first half of this weekend's contest.

Tomorrow, the media will be able to watch the first open portion of practice for the week. Hopefully, it will shed some light into what changes to expect this upcoming Saturday afternoon. The team heads to a hostile environment at NC State and kickoff is at 3:30 p.m.

The full video can be watched here or read the transcript below.

Here is the full transcript courtesy of ASAP Sports. Any inconsistencies or errors in the transcripts are via ASAP Sports. They have not been edited by Tomahawk Nation.

WILLIE TAGGART: Thanks for being here. Good afternoon. First, let me briefly address some of my thoughts after the game. First, we played an outstanding team in Clemson. Coach Swinney has been on a remarkable run with his football team, and what they’ve been able to accomplish, and a good football team that we lost all three phases of the game against, so I want to make sure we give credit where credit is due.

But like I said after the game, going home and watching the North Carolina State-Syracuse game and then watching our film from Clemson that night and watching it on Sunday, I felt there was a handful of players that didn’t play up to our standards and didn’t do the things that we expect out of them and what we want from them and how you play here at FSU.

We addressed it internally, and we’re going to make sure that we continue to build a culture and a program the way that we want to, the way that I know how, and we’re going to make sure we have individuals in here that are going to live up to those standards. That’s going to be great teammates who are going to compete and guys that are going to put FSU first. It’s going to always be that way, and we’re not going to make any excuses about it. That’s how it’s going to be, and that’s what we expect out of our guys every time they line up to play.

Like I said, we addressed those things and had a good practice yesterday, and we’re looking forward to playing North Carolina State.

Q. I know you said your players quit; in what areas did they exactly quit in?WILLIE TAGGART: Well, I just felt like we didn’t compete like we were competing at the beginning of the game, and when things didn’t go our way, we didn’t compete and finish plays and finish the game like we’re capable of. I think whenever you’re out there on the football field, if you’re not competing, then you’re in the wrong spot, and you shouldn’t be competing at a high level. That’s every individual. We didn’t get that out of a handful of guys.

Q. Coach, you mentioned that you dealt with it internally, but also along with players who quit and also players who got ejected for throwing punches, have you decided what the specific consequences would be?WILLIE TAGGART: Yeah, I have. Some of those things are done internally, and the guys that threw punches, they won’t be playing the first half of the next game.

Q. After looking at the film, was it what you thought it was when you watched it? More players, less players, about the same?WILLIE TAGGART: Well, as I say, it was just a handful of players. The majority of our players competed and played the way that we want them to. Again, we got beat by a better team, but we made mistakes that you can’t make against a team like Clemson. We made some of the same mistakes that we made early in the year, and that’s frustrating, but when you play against a team like Clemson and make those mistakes, they’re going to expose you.

And so we didn’t do that, but like I said, we had the majority of our guys doing the things we want to. It was a handful of guys, and it only takes a handful that can mess up the whole thing that’s going on. We’ve got to address those things and make sure those things don’t continue to happen with this football team, as part of the change of the culture.

Q. Do you meet with those kids that you think did quit individually?WILLIE TAGGART: Mm-hmm. I meet with them all, individually and as a team. Our entire football team needs to understand exactly what we mean about quitting, what we mean about competing and what the standard is here at Florida State when we go out there on the football field and play. It’s going to be that way, no ifs, and or buts about it, and we’re going to hold everyone accountable, players and coaches, to live up to that standard.

Q. I guess when a game like that happens, later in the game, is it more understandable? Are there different shades of understanding when it comes to the level the guys are competing? It’s 28-0 maybe something different than when it’s 48-0?WILLIE TAGGART: No, I don’t. Again, I think you’ve got to have a standard in how you want to play and how you want to be. It don’t matter what the situation is. One thing you do, you compete until the end of the game, and as we change our culture and how we want to be, we can’t be that way. It can’t be up and down. It can’t be you understand a certain situation. You’ve got to understand the standard, and if you understand the standard, you won’t put yourself in those situations so that we have to go through those things.

It shouldn’t have been that way. We did it to ourselves. We know what we did, and we’ve got to correct those things. But again, it goes back to having a standard and what we want to be and how we want to be, and making sure that everybody is living up to that standard.

Q. Coach, Deondre left the game with an injury. What’s his status for NC State?WILLIE TAGGART: Deondre, he’s beat up. He took some hits in that game, and I’m sure understandably he’s beat up after a physical ballgame. Again, he’s day-to-day.

Q. Something that you’ve mentioned that you couldn’t have was injuries on the offensive line, but even before that, did you anticipate the offense struggling like it is?WILLIE TAGGART: No, I didn’t. I actually thought we were going to roll. Coming in, I guess that’s the positive attitude I had and just the way our guys worked. Our guys worked at practice and they’re talented. I think the one thing I couldn’t judge or none of us could is exactly how we’re going to be in game action and how those things go, and you can’t reciprocate that in practice and get those things. The thing you can’t get is how your team is going to respond to adversity. You can’t get that until you actually go into the games with your guys, and we’re here, and you’re seeing it now, and now it’s just trying to get our guys over, dealing with things when it don’t go our way. A lot of our issues is more mental than it is physical, and that’s a huge part of the game of football and what you’re doing is mental. We’ve got to be mentally tough, and we’re not there yet. It’s just a matter of getting our team to get that way.

Q. Besides a couple guys you mentioned that will be sitting out that first half. Do you anticipate any changes in terms of starters, major contributors, going into this game, and if so, can you share some of that with us?WILLIE TAGGART: I prefer not to. Again, but I’m sure after evaluating the film, we’re going to, again, make sure we put the right guys on the field in the right position to help us win, and that’s going to play to the standard that we need them to play in. And guys that’s going to compete every single day in practice and being ready for the game, showing us that in practice. I don’t know if you answered your question, but I tried.

Q. With Notre Dame and Florida Gators still ahead in the schedule --WILLIE TAGGART: Nope, not going there. We’ve got North Carolina State.

Q. Do you guys still think you can secure a bowl game?WILLIE TAGGART: We’re (inaudible). We’ve got to take care --

Q. How does the team battle back from a loss like this going up against North Carolina State?WILLIE TAGGART: Well, we go practice our tails off and we remember (inaudible) Monday night and make sure we don’t do those things that put us in that position and knowing that there’s going fob a hungry football team after us, and we’re going to their place, a tough place to play, and we’ve got to make sure we practice the way we want to play on Saturday, execute that way and make sure we stick together and play on Saturday to make sure that, again, we don’t feel the way that (inaudible) it’s a big time game for us, important game for us, and we’ve got to focus on North Carolina State, a good football team.

Q. Not to belabor the point, but I guess that’s what I do, when you did film study, did you show certain plays that you thought kids weren’t trying to the rest of the team?WILLIE TAGGART: I think that’s always -- you’ve always got to do that, not just with the individuals. If you just do it with the individuals, somebody else might miss out on something that could have got corrected and they don’t do it, but showing the entire team -- I think whenever we have losses and things like that, we try to address it as a team and not just individuals. You meet with those individuals and tell them, again, your thoughts and how we’re going to respond to it, but more importantly, you’ve got to make sure you’re educating your entire football team on things that we want to do and things that we’re not going to accept.

Q. And can you sense in the room like maybe the players, the ones that were trying the whole game, getting upset? Is that what you’re looking for? Can you sense that?WILLIE TAGGART: I sense that on the film. We had guys that were upset and guys that wanted to do it right, and guys were saying the things that they needed to. You had guys encouraging other teammates. Again, you only need a few that can mess up everything else, and those things, it just can’t happen. In the game, you’ve got to play. There’s no way you can come back and beat anybody when you’re down and out or you’re arguing amongst each other. We’ve got to stay locked in and we’ve got to -- bottom line, we’ve got to deal with adversity a lot better. That’s something we’ve been struggling with for a while, and that’s an important part of what we’re doing, an important part of what we’ve got to correct around here.

Q. After the game did you see the locker room holding itself accountable, players holding each other accountable, maybe more so than you have in the past?WILLIE TAGGART: I did, and I saw it by guys I probably wanted it from earlier in the year, and you got it from some of those guys on Saturday night, and it needed to be said, and it needed to be said by some of the guys that said it, the things that they did. Now you just hope they continue to say it and guys react to it in a positive way like they needed to. You saw -- like I say, the majority of our guys gave us what we wanted, and I applaud those guys for stepping up and saying what they did. That ultimately is how it’s going to change, holding each other accountable and letting each other know when they’re not holding up to a standard.

Q. I presume that’s a change in culture in the locker room?WILLIE TAGGART: Absolutely. You’ve got to have it. Again, I wish it could happen just day one, but those things don’t happen overnight. Changing the culture don’t happen overnight. It’s a process. But as long as there’s progress within that, you’ll get to where we want to go. And part of it is in recruiting, too. All of that is part of changing the culture, and we’re not going to just get there today. That’s going to come with time.

Q. With Francois being day-to-day, at what point during the week if he couldn’t go in practice would you make the decision to go to James? Would he have to practice at a certain point to make that decision, or how does that work?WILLIE TAGGART: Well, playing quarterback, you’ve got to practice. We’re going to assess that throughout the week and see where he is, but you’ve got to get practice -- you’ve got to get the majority of the reps to be able to go play like we need for him to play. He’s going to have to practice in order to play.

Q. I know there was a handful of guys that were banged up, Dontavious, Lavonta, Stanford, Robert Cooper I think were the four I could remember. Any update on their statuses?WILLIE TAGGART: Yeah, I know Cooper and Upshur, they’ll be out this week, and then the other guys are day-to-day.

Q. Obviously it wasn’t an overall great performance, but was there anything positive you can take away from it?WILLIE TAGGART: No. That was embarrassing. You don’t take positive from embarrassment. We’ve got to learn. We’ve got to teach as coaches and make sure we have our players (inaudible), and like I say, everybody has got to step up and give FSU everything we have. FSU has been good to all of us, and we all owe it to our school, our fan base and all to be at our best every time we step out on the football field, and it’s disappointing we were that way on Saturday, and we’ve all got to see to it it’s never that way again.

Q. I had a couple special teams questions. On the roughing the kicker, was that a kick block called or was Asante just trying to do too much?WILLIE TAGGART: It was him doing a little too much, you know, and again, that’s -- we’ve got to make sure we correct and make sure our guys understand, again, when to make a play and when not to make a play and just playing smart football, and in that case it wasn’t smart at all.

Q. Also, you guys have had the issue for a lot of the season, guys trying to run back kicks that maybe are ill-advised. What’s the rule or where -- I know Amir wasn’t there so that probably didn’t help, but kind of the decision making when to take kicks out or not?WILLIE TAGGART: Well, yeah, you had the off returner who usually runs and stands in front of the returner and tells him to hold and stay in there so he can’t run out so he doesn’t make those decisions, and on a particular play you’re probably talking about when grant ran out. Tre’Shaun didn’t necessarily get over in front of him. He was kind of on the side of him, telling me you’ve got two freshmen there that just made a mistake, making sure they come out, and a freshman want to make a play and go out and run and made a bad decision there. Again, it’s unfortunate that we’re making those mistakes right now, and again, in a game like that. But those things we’ve got to correct. We’ve got to continue to teach and try to get our guys to do. That’s the first time we ran that. That’s something new. But again, it’s another issue that we’ve got to correct. You hate it and I hate it especially when it’s young guys, but they’ve got to get it right, too.

Q. One on Marvin: Late in the game he’s still tackling guys behind the line, looks like he’s playing really hard. Is that a guy moving forward that you can lean on and this program can lean on a little bit?WILLIE TAGGART: Oh, absolutely. Marvin is everything that we look for. Marvin is -- when we say what we want FSU player to be like, he is -- that’s a spitting image. He’s the definition of what we want a Florida State player to look like. I knew that from day one, that it was important to him, when he decided to come here, he let the whole entire team know that he’s one of the guys to step up and say something when it’s not right, and he’s passionate about being one of the best that play here. You see it in his effort. For a guy like that and to play as many plays as he does, he’ll give you 110 percent every time. That’s what you’re looking for, and those are competitors. Those are the guys we want to continue to bring in here.

Q. (Inaudible) for a lot of yards and he doesn’t get hit much. I know he gets rid of the ball quick and he’s got a good offensive line. How do you get him off his spot and make it tough for them?WILLIE TAGGART: Well, I think when they have protection that can help protect him in some ways, sometimes it just comes down to one-on-one. Sometimes guys got to win one-on-one battles, too. You can scheme and try to do some things, but a lot of times it comes down to winning some one-on-one battles. You need that in ballgames, and you need that when you have a guy that probably hasn’t been sacked as much. Maybe some guys haven’t been winning those (inaudible), and we feel like we have a talented D-line that can win some of those battles, and we’re going to have to in order to get to him. He’s a really good quarterback, and got a really good scheme to get the ball out into his guys’ hands. We’ve got to do that, and then we’ve got to be better on the back end.

Q. (Inaudible) 41 and 51 in back-to-back weeks. What have you seen from that defense? What are they doing well and not doing well?WILLIE TAGGART: Well, they’re good at stopping the run. I think they’ve given up a lot of explosive plays in the passing game that probably hurt them a lot. I know in the Syracuse game you saw they had a lot of explosive plays in the passing game and that, and again, in the Clemson game, that’s a really good football team that they went against. And same thing in that game. But they’re a good football team, and they’re only giving up 25 points a game and about 100 yards rushing a game. We’ve got to come play our “A” game. Once again, another week.

Q. In addition you mentioned Marvin as being someone who was giving consistent effort throughout the game. Who were other guys who were, I guess, building blocks, showing that even in a lot like the other day?WILLIE TAGGART: I don’t want to really get the names -- there’s so many of them, it’s hard to just name them all without forgetting somebody. There’s enough guys. We had a majority of our guys doing it the right way how we wanted to. Once again, it was a handful of guys that were kind of like bad eggs, and it’ll mess it up for everyone.

But we’ve got to make sure that those things don’t happen anymore and our football team understands that that’s not acceptable and will not happen again if they want to be on this football team.

Q. You’ve discussed a lot of these problems stem from culture issues here, but with the chase and spring practices, preseason camp, the trip down to IMG, nine weeks of football season now, what parts of your culture do you think have taken hold of this program and are positive?WILLIE TAGGART: Well, I think our guys are trying to give us what we want for the most part. Our guys are so much better in the classroom, what they’re doing. Our guys have been pretty good in the community and doing the things they need to do from that standpoint. And from a football standpoint, both sides of the ball are learning something new from the standpoint that the part that we’re missing, if you asked me, if anything, is just how we deal when things get tough with us, and that’s one of the biggest challenges taking over a program and trying to change things is change ways and change people and things go wrong, sometimes human nature you just give up rather than fighting through it. That’s adversity. Our guys learning to deal with it, and part of it is some guys are stuck that way, some get better with it, and a big part of it is you’ve got to recruit those guys and you’ve got to do a good job of recruiting and digging in deep and finding out what kind of players you’re getting, who’s going to fight when it’s tough, who relishes those opportunities when it gets tough, to go out and to make something happen.

That’s work, and we’ve got to work to continue to do that and get there, and we will. Again, I wish I could have got it all accomplished in the spring, you know, but again, like I say, with that adversity, we didn’t -- we weren’t going to know that until the season, and we know it now, we see it, and we’ve got to continue to work to try to make those things right.

I think with us and our football team, it’s more mental than it is physical for our guys, and that’s a big part of the game, and that’s part of teaching and that’s part of us, again, changing our culture, and it’ll get there. It’s just not going to get there overnight.

Q. (Inaudible) regular season games left and the new redshirt rule, do you look forward to playing some of these freshmen, and are some of these capable and ready at this point of playing in these football games?WILLIE TAGGART: Well, I think we’re going to play the guys that we feel like are ready to play in the game. We’ve been doing that throughout the season now. But we’re not going to play them just to play guys. They’ve got to be ready. We’re trying to win ballgames, so we’re going to -- we’ve got four games left, and that can make a huge difference in our season. We’re going to make sure we’re playing the right guys that’s going to execute at a high level, that’s going to compete at a high level and give us all something to be proud of.

Q. I know you mentioned the defensive line. Can you quickly just talk about Burns and what type of game you expect for him to have this week?WILLIE TAGGART: Well, Brian has been Mr. Consistent for us throughout the season. You know, he’s been playing well and doing some good things for us, and you can see now teams are trying to -- they’re game planning around him, and I expect for Brian Burns to continue what he’s been doing for us. He’s been a great leader for us. He’s been a great player for us, and we need him to (inaudible) those ends on the other side, hopefully they start making the plays they can make now because teams are trying to use extra guys to protect Burns, to block Burns.

Those things open up other opportunities for other guys, and we need those guys to take advantage of it.

Q. (Inaudible) mentally tough, so how difficult is it for you now after this adversity of the Clemson game, is this one of those times when you have to put your arm around these guys, or do you have to be more a little more stern than you would like to be at this point in the season?WILLIE TAGGART: I think you’ve always going to be stern in everything you and demanding in everything you do. There’s a time when guys need an arm around them and loving up, and there’s another time when you need to lay the law down on them, you know. But I think for our standard and every single day holding our guys accountable to that standard, that’s the only way we’re going to get to where we want to go, and that’s got to be an everyday thing, not a sometime thing. That’s an everyday thing, and it’s an everyday thing in everything we do, whether it’s on the football field, in the classroom or socially. It’s accountability and it’s a standard that we’ve got to live to and he be coaches hold them to that, sports staff, academics and everyone, hold those guys to a standard, and that’s the only way we’re going to get to where we want to go. Again, it’s not going to happen overnight, but it’s going to happen within time. A lot of those things changed for us, but I think that one last thing we need to change is just dealing with it when it gets tough.

Adversity introduces a man to himself, and our guys got to understand that. It is what it is. But we’ve got to attack it. Don’t run from it.