Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

September 11, 2018 at 9:04 pm.

Seminoles turn focus to Syracuse after scare vs. FCS Samford

First-year Florida State head coach Willie Taggart stepped to the podium Monday afternoon — fresh off an ugly win against FCS program Samford, and one week removed from a blowout loss to Virginia Tech — and told it like it was:

This is not the start to the season he envisioned.

So what are the Seminoles going to do about it?

“Look at yourself in the mirror: Are you doing enough? You be honest about everything,” Taggart said. “You make (the team) understand the situation you’re in. Everybody’s not going to be happy when you just don’t play the way that everyone wants you to play and that’s part of it. That’s why this game is so great. You have so many critics and so many opinions.”

The critics were out with pens and keyboards blazing after Saturday’s 36-26 win against Samford — a victory that just as easily could’ve been a loss. The Seminoles (1-1) trailed from jump, giving up a touchdown on Samford’s opening offensive play and looking out of sorts, in all phases, for most of the game.

It wasn’t until Florida State tight end Tre’ McKitty’s go-ahead touchdown catch with just over four minutes left in the game and defensive back Levonta Taylor’s pick six less than two minutes later that the victory was secured.

Taggart said Florida State’s issues in the first two games have been part lack-of-discipline, part youth, and another part failing to execute.

And he knows that’s on him.

“No need to pout, put your head down or get upset. Just get back to work and make sure those things don’t happen,” said Taggart, whose Seminoles play their first road game of the year Saturday at Syracuse (2-0). “We’re looking forward to getting out and making some corrections and going out and seeing if we can play at our best, which is something we hadn’t done yet. And looking forward to going out and seeing if we can get that done this week.”

The Orange (2-0) will do their best to make sure Florida State doesn’t take that next step forward — and they certainly look prepared to stand in the Seminoles’ way. Syracuse has scored 55 and 62 points in their first two games, respectively, and have one of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s most explosive offensive players leading the way. Quarterback Eric Dungey ranks third in the FBS in total offensive yards per game (298.5) and he is ready to end the Orange’s five-game ACC losing streak in the conference opener for both teams.

If the Seminoles lose, and/or don’t show significant improvement from last week’s squeaker of a win against an opponent it as favored to beat by five touchdowns, then Taggart knows the plane ride back to Tallahassee will be a long one.

Through the first two weeks, Florida State’s fanbase has already made it clear on social media and message boards that the honeymoon, and all the feel-good offseason vibes for Taggart, is over.

Now is the time for the Seminoles to — to steal a phrase from Taggart — “do something.”

“Our guys gotta understand when we’re not playing up to our expectation then negative things will be said about us,” Taggart said. “But it’s on us to change that. And if we want that change, it’s not — we can’t ask anyone to say nice things to us all the time if we’re not doing our part. So we know it’s on us and it’s on us to go out and do it and that’s what we’ve got to do.”