You never get a second chance to make a first impression. What you can do is change folks’ perspectives by consistently doing what you promised.
FSU fans were promised points by Willie Taggart and Saturday’s opponent Samford has to be the unfortunate victim after Monday’s loss against Virginia Tech in which the offense only mustered three points. That was due to a lot of missed opportunities and turnovers, but as Taggart has said, nobody wants to hear excuses.
Samford is, or should be, considered a cupcake. I spoke about not doing a breakdown of them in my preseason prediction article, but after Monday night I learned a valuable lesson. Don’t take any opponent lightly. They are coming off a big victory in which they were considered the big dog. They won 66-9 over an opponent I’m not exactly sure of where the college is located.
Samford does have some pieces that FSU should be worried about. Quarterback Devlin Hodges is a redshirt senior who has put up numbers before when a team sleeps on him. Just ask Mississippi State in 2016 when he threw almost 70 passes for 468 yards against the Bulldogs.
Samford is not afraid to sling the ball around. Not much defense was played that game as it lost 56-41, but these guys have confidence.
In a college football world where FCS schools don’t know their place and love playing Cinderella, this could be an annoying test to a FSU team that needs to refocus after an emotional letdown five days prior to kick-off.
Fans want results and want to know what to expect. Well, expect to have things back to normal. I see this past Monday as a tough lesson, but one that will be forgotten as the coming weeks progress. Changes have been made and this is the perfect game to work out kinks.
Here is what I expect to see this Saturday.
The bright spot for FSU is the way the defense performed most of the game. You should see more dominance in this game than against Virginia Tech. FSU is clearly superior in talent and needs this game to clean up mistakes in real time against an opponent that is better than its scout squad.
The defense gave up some big plays and you would expect defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett to have those guys better. Something that fans should go into the game looking for is clear dominance along the defensive lines. This should give the linebackers an opportunity to gain more confidence as they are the unit that received most of the criticism this past week.
I don’t think that the play-calling was bad Monday, but the execution was lacking. FSU should see the offense it was looking for. Big plays should be there. Not much can be said about the defense of Samford, but I expect FSU to try jumping on them early and taking the will away.
This offense is predicated on finding the weakness of the defense and exploiting it quick. You could see flashes with Nyqwan Murray, Keith Gavin, Jaques Patrick, Cam Akers and Khalan Laborn making big plays. We also saw stalls.
This week in practice the mental mistakes should be cleared up as I believe accountability is what is being preached. If the offensive line can eliminate stupid penalties and key in on assignments, we should see more open running lanes and Deondre Francois should have more time to find open receivers.
This is really where FSU has got to become better. Blocking assignments on punts should be cleaned up and more important than that, they’ve got to stop letting guys run down the field unscathed on punt return. Doing so should set up for D.J. Matthews to do something in the return game. This is the area of the game where FSU really needs to get an identity.
Nothing can excite a crowd and turn the momentum of the game more than a properly executed special teams unit.
Fans and critics aren’t going to forget about the first impression Willie Taggart’s debut made. What can start helping change the narrative and moving opinion back into his favor is a weekend of pure dominance. Nobody expects FSU to lose this game or for it to be even close. What fans would like to see is what this team can look like when it’s clicking on all cylinders.
You’ve got to be able to impose your will on a lesser opponent.
This game can lay the foundation for progress and at this point that is all FSU fans can hope for. My expectation for FSU is to be so dominate that the next team can only use the game film for alignment and number recognition. That’s when you know you’ve got this thing going right.
Article Originally Appeared on Gridiron Now: http://gridironnow.com/after-mondays-nightmare-could-samford-give-seminoles-trouble