Willie Taggart walked up to the podium with a smile on his face, in his first press conference since National Signing Day, and proclaimed “It’s like Christmas Eve… spring ball.”
Spring practice will officially begin tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. and is open to both fans and the media. Today, Taggart addressed the media and fielded questions about spring practice prior to the team’s Pro Day.
He started out by commending the men’s and women’s basketball team for their respective runs in the NCAA Tournament – the men in the Sweet 16 on Thursday night against Gonzaga and the women who lost in the Round of 32 yesterday – gave a shout out to the West Side ’Noles, as the men’s game will be in California, and added “it’s good to be around winners.”
Right off the bat he emphasized the competition that he foresees around this team, saying that in spring ball he wants to see his guys compete and see “who wants the job and who’s okay with someone else taking their job.” He also mentioned that the team has gotten bigger and stronger since December, likely a result of ‘the chase’ workouts.
Then the questions began.
On installing the offensive and defensive schemes in such a short period of time, Taggart said “You can install it all, I don’t think you get out of there necessarily knowing what you’re good at. For us, we want to each our guys our schemes, why we do things what’s the foundation to it.”
“When spring ball is over, whether it’s offense, defense or special teams, we want to be able to say we’re good at something, and then we can build off of that.”
Taggart seems to have already won over the fans as well as current and former players, but he may have won over future recruits’ parents when asked about his relationship to the players.
“I want to be like father and son. We go in and recruit these guys and take them away from their parents, families, we say we’re going to take care of them and that’s what we want to be able to do.”
“I want to help those guys reach their dreams, goals and aspirations. You do that by holding them accountable and making sure they do the things that they want to do when they decided to come here – I know every last one of them wants to become a Florida State graduate and win a championship.”
Taggart was asked about offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Walt Bell and how he got to know him. He praised Bell but also made it clear that he would be calling the plays, not Bell.
An obvious topic of conversation was the quarterback situation with Deondre Francois, James Blackman and Bailey Hockman.
On Francois he said, “he’ll be able to encourage his teammates and be a great leader. I don’t see him doing a lot this spring.”
”He’s got a lot of work to do even though he’s not out there on the football field.”
Hockman will likely push Blackman for the starting job in spring practice while Francois focuses on rehab. Taggart again mentioned Blackman’s success in putting on weight during the offseason.
Something many fans noticed on the spring football roster was the lack of single digit jersey numbers – Taggart was asked about this and made it clear that these numbers are earned, not given.
“They gotta do something, when I was growing up, you had to be a dude to get a single digit number.”
Speaking of doing something, the practice facility underwent a makeover in the offseason as the three fences surrounding the fields display Taggart’s mantras: do something, make no excuses, and blame no one.
“Make no excuses”— Kyle Wood (@Kkylewood) March 20, 2018
“Blame no one”
Willie Taggart’s mantras on full display at the FSU practice facility pic.twitter.com/tswLzQGaaq
He emphasized the importance of team and competition throughout the presser, and is clearly excited to be at the helm of this team.
“Our guys are buying into everything that we’re asking them do to. They’re having fun, we’re seeing them around the office a lot more, just to talk, not football.”
“The buy in is there, now is that next process of taking it all to the football field.”
In a few short weeks, fans will get to see the results of spring practice on April 14 at the Garnet and Gold spring game.