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Willie Taggart blames FSU offensive line after embarrassing loss at Syracuse

FSU’s struggles on offense start up front.

NCAA Football: Florida State at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Florida State’s injury-riddled offensive line was man-handled in a 30-7 blowout loss on the road at Syracuse. Sure, FSU’s anemic offense was the result of a number of factors, but there is no tip-toeing around it, the offensive line was embarrassing.

The struggles of the offensive line were the main topic of conversation in head coach Willie Taggart’s post-game press conference. When asked about the root cause of poor play from the unit, Taggart said it was a combination of different factors.

“I think it’s a little bit of everything,” Taggart said. “Fundamentals, want to—our guys have to want to block and get after people. Sometimes it’s talent, but I think our guys are good enough. I know they’re good enough. Our guys blocked our defense. I know they can do it. I think right now it’s just mental. We have what we have and we have to do a good job as coaches on coaching them up and getting them better than where they are at. Right now we’re not. We have to look at everything possible to find a way to be functional up front.”

Aside from the center position, the offensive line has seen a number of different players fill holes due to injury or poor play. The lack of consistent starters has certainly been detrimental to the offense as a whole. There is no cohesion and at times players look utterly lost. Taggart is still searching for the answer to the puzzle.

“We’re just trying to find guys to get in there and block someone for us,” Taggart said. “We only have so many and we’re working with the ones we have and we’re trying to get something done. We have to find the right five guys to help us be more efficient on the offensive side of the ball. Right now we don’t have that yet, and we have to find it.”

Quarterback Deondre Francois had struggles of his own on the day, but when asked if he thought about making a change to sophomore James Blackman, he said it was never a question.

“No, because Deondre wasn’t the problem,” Taggart said. “If I thought Deondre was the problem, I would’ve made a change. Deondre is not the problem right now. So, no, I didn’t think about changing. I want us to protect a lot better. If we protect a lot better I think we’ll see him do the things he is capable of doing. He can’t do it when he is on his back because he has pressure like he had all day.”

Francois was visibly frustrated in the second half when poor play from Abdul Bello and Derrick Kelly II saw the quarterback pummeled on back to back plays. Francois refused help up from Kelly on the second play, which resulted in a painful sack.

“I’m not worried about frustrated. He should be frustrated,” Taggart said. “We’re not playing like we should be. They all should be frustrated, and not at someone else, but be frustrated at themselves, each and every last one of them. We all need to look within ourselves and ask ourselves what we’re doing. Are we doing what we’re supposed to? Are we doing enough to help this football team? Everybody, coaches and players.”