Thursday provides the stage for ACC Atlantic coaches and their player representatives to address the assembled media in Charlotte, North Carolina, and with it, one of Willie Taggart’s largest platforms to date.
ACC Kickoff events actually commenced on Wednesday with coaches and players from the Coastal division, and on Thursday those from the Atlantic will assume the spotlight. While the schedule for this event always seems to be more a suggestion than a rule, the stated itinerary stipulates that events will run from 9:15 am through 4 pm, with Taggart, Cam Akers, and Brian Burns to address the collective media from 10-10:30 am, after which the trio will breakout to chat with various outlets.
ACC Commissioner John Swofford set the tone by addressing the media and fielding questions:
Be sure to check back here throughout the day, as we’ll provide updates on anything of note to come from or about the Seminoles.
Coach Taggart one-upped the footwear of Dan Mullen
The players are also looking sharp.
Cam Akers and Brian Burns
Akers and Burns spoke for about 15 minutes.
- Akers said that there is more space, opportunity for big place, and more seams to break plays in the new offense.
- Akers said that he wants to get his 5.3 YPC up. “I did a lot of research on other backs, I have a lot more to do.”
- Akers said that his biggest improvement will come as a leader. Taggart wants him to be more vocal as a leader.
- Akers said that one thing he had to learn was that he can’t break a big play on every run. He said he learned this when Derwin James hit him in last year’s spring game.
- Burns spoke about the accountability Taggart has brought: “No excuses.”
- It’s a defense that allows you to play, and not have to think. Fast, physical, aggressive— Burns on the new defense.
- Burns said that the strength and conditioning program has been “amazing.”
- Burns: “We do lack experience, but I am confident that others will step up. I am excited to see what they will do.”
- More Burns, when asked why his sack total dropped off from 2016 to 2017: “My sophomore year, I was still going off athleticism, and it didn’t work. But during my sophomore season, I learned and matured. Watching film, taking care of my body, and that is why I flashed at the end of the season.” This was his reaction when he was asked if opposing OLs were starting to figure him out. He also had a good laugh at the idea that he’d been solved.
- Burns said that coach Taggart emphasizes legacy and tradition and buy-in every day.
- Burns also commented on Akers: “He’s a monster.”
- Taggart is focused on not confusing his players, especially in Year 1. He wants his talented athletes to be able to focus on making plays and not overcomplicating the game they’ve placed since they were young.
- Taggart had great praise for how Clemson runs its program. He had met with Tigers’ OC Jeff Scott the year before he made a trip to meet Dabo Swinney in 2017, when Taggart was still the head coach of Oregon.
- “Yeah, everything about last year shocked me,” Taggart said of 2017 FSU.
- When asked of his vision for FSU, Taggart said he wants to win multiple championships in a first-class manner.
- “It’ll be faster than what we’ve been before, but we’re not trying to get 100 plays. We’re trying to create explosive plays. We’ll be faster when we want to. We won’t huddle, we will create explosive plays,” Taggart said about tempo. The emphasis is on using tempo to create explosive plays, not to get to a certain number of plays.
- After last year, Taggart “thought I’d get here and we’d have a bunch of turds. But we don’t.” Said there’s a bunch of great guys on the roster. Taggart spoke highly of the team’s behavior and class attendance.
- “This is the first time as a coach we have three guys who can play at the QB position,” Taggart said. He declined to say anything specific about any of the QBs.
As first reported by The Nolecast in June, Deondre Francois has moved back into the player dorms. This was the preference of the coaching staff, per a source. Taggart also said Francois is at 100% health for camp.
Willie Taggart says QB Deondre Francois has moved back on campus. Added Francois has done everything right this offseason— Kevin Keane (@KeaneTheDream) July 19, 2018
Cam Akers on Deondre Francois: “He’s around for everything. He’s shown us he really loves this team.”— A special place in Hale (@DavidHaleESPN) July 19, 2018
No one at FSU is going out of their way to trash the culture Jimbo had allowed to fester there, but man, it’s the subtext of so much of what’s being said.— A special place in Hale (@DavidHaleESPN) July 19, 2018
FSU went through summer workouts with new strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde at the helm, and he’s completely changed the way FSU goes about its workouts.
It’s a fast workout with no downtime for the players to sit down or take a break. They’re constantly working or moving to the next area for the next workout until it’s over.
Attendance for the workouts is mandatory, and this year, there’s actually a consequence for missing one.
”Everybody showed up,” FSU defensive end Brian Burns said.
”You can’t make any excuses. You either get there or you get there. You’ve only got one choice. If you don’t, this is not an option, but if you don’t, you’ve got a punishment and it’s nothing you want to be a part of, let me tell you that.”
Arriving late for a 6 a.m. practice is also unacceptable, and the punishment for that is stiff.
Players get put on “dawn patrol” where they’re required to push a 45-pound plate 20 yards across the field 20 times in a certain time limit.
Akers actually laughed when asked if there were any punishments under the previous coaching staff.
”I love it,” Burns said
Taggart on Francois
“He’s put forth this effort to change the narrative and change the perception of who he is,” Taggart said.
”Because he’s not that person. But perception is reality and he has to change that. He understands that. All of these incidents that happened are teaching moments and learning moments. And that’s the big thing for Deondre is that he learns from these mistakes and moves forward. If you don’t, then we’re wasting everybody’s time.”