Willie Taggart pulled his trick play out of the bag to give FSU some cushion in the fourth quarter. It looked to Taggart like it was executed to perfection. It looked that way to Florida State fans and just about everyone watching on TV, too. Even a Miami fan might admit that it was a legal play. It looked perfect to everyone but the officiating crew at Hard Rock stadium. Taggart was visibly upset at the call on the sideline, and he talked about the reasoning officials gave him.
“That he threw it in front of him and that he couldn’t throw the ball,” Taggart said. “I thought it was good.”
The Seminoles’ head coach was asked if it was a reviewalble play and if he requested they take a look at it.
“They can (review it),” Taggart said. “They said it was in front of him and it wasn’t close enough. They looked up there and told me they were looking at it and it’s not (close enough).”
It’s hard to blame officiating for a loss. It always comes off as sour grapes, and to Taggart’s credit he didn’t lay the blame there, no matter how good an argument it is. It was a hard call against the Seminoles, but Taggart said it was most disappointing that his team was unable to close the game out.
“It’s very disappointing,” Taggart said. “We lost a game against a rival that we really wanted it. Again, our guys are playing well, probably by far the best we’ve played all year. The second half we just didn’t finish. Those turnovers did us away.”
Part of FSU’s second half spiral was a lackluster passing game and turning the ball over. After a solid first half, the highly criticized offensive line began to slip up and pressure smothered QB Deondre Francois. Taggart said there wasn’t anything they were doing differently in the second half. There were some missed blocks and times when Francois needs to push up in the pocket.
“They didn’t do anything differently,” Taggart said. “They had some missed blocks a couple times. There was a couple times when I felt like Deondre could’ve stepped up in the pocket and not sit at the top of his drop. That hurts the tackle when he does that. He has to get better at pushing up in the pocket and taking off and run when he does that. Sitting back at the top of your drop and waiting for a guy to get open, where we’re at right now we can’t do that.”
Taggart continued, saying that Francois having better awareness and climbing the pocket is going to be vital to his progression moving forward.
“It’s not difficult when you keep getting hit in the same thing,” Taggart said. “He has to do it or he’s going to continue getting hit. He has to work at that daily. It’s some old habits he has to get out of. We have to do a great job this bye week and really get him to hitch up in the pocket when we have an opportunity to.”
A loss, especially a close one to a rival, is always hard on any team. Taggart didn’t shy away when talking about the state of the locker room after watching their lead evaporate.
“They’re hurt” Taggart said. “We came here to win and they’re hurt. We lost the game when we were up. They’re hurt. They’re crying and the seniors are upset they won’t have the chance again to play against Miami and the younger ones are upset they didn’t do it for them, and they should be.”
Despite the disappointment now, Taggart doesn’t believe the team will allow it to keep them down moving forward.
“I don’t think our team will get down,” Taggart said. “I think these guys are really close and they’ve bought in to what we’re doing. Again, they know we let one get away. We can’t turn the ball over, that killed us. If we don’t turn the ball over, I don’t think we’re talking about that. Our guys know we have to take care of the football. I told them, if we take care of the football, I don’t care who we’re playing, we have a good chance of winning.”
Going into the game, most didn’t think FSU had a shot. This game would have been huge for momentum moving forward, but it wasn’t necessary for bowl eligibility. If the Seminoles use the loss to light a fire there is still opportunity to maintain the bowl streak.