“Pipe it up, Pipe it up, Pipe it up”
As I walk from my car to the Seminoles’ indoor practice facility, I hear the sounds of Migos blasting. It puts a little bop in my gait as I see the energy inside – and this was just during the stretching and warmup period of the team’s first spring football practice.
Everything was on the hop, quick-paced as they used to say when I was there.
To say there is a buzz in Tallahassee is cliched, but there’s really no other way to describe it… IT’S A BUZZ IN TALLAHASSEE!
Not that football hasn’t been exciting under Jimbo Fisher, it’s just different now. Willie Taggart personifies energy and electricity. That was my biggest takeaway when I watched the first practice of the Taggart Era from the sidelines.
My whole demeanor changed. I wanted to play. I wanted to practice.
“I mean, we talking about practice,” mane.
I hated practice when I wore the garnet and gold, but I wanted to be part of what I saw in front of me. So did the fans who lined up and watched that same practice at 9AM on a Wednesday.
Folks wanted to see what this coaching staff looked like and what these players responses to them would, in turn, look like. First impressions mean a lot. I walked away more impressed than I anticipated.
I felt like I knew the staff already. This time, however, I had the chance to see them operate. I got a chance to talk with them. They want that energy. They want family engagement. They want the traditions. They want the older players back. No BS.
I mean these guys are sharp.
Trae Hackett made sure me and the former guys who came to practice felt welcomed. I got to see Odell Haggins and gave him a big hug. Hell, my former teammate Travis Johnson got involved in coaching.
I was there to do one thing and I made it known: to watch.
There was a great deal to take in. My head was on a swivel as guys were flying around. I was able to see first-hand all the things that I’ve been writing about.
Here’s what most stood out to me:
- Tempo. Tempo. These guys are flying around. From period one to 26, these guys were practicing pace. That is one of the key components of Taggart’s Gulf Coast Offense; the ability to run a ton of plays.
- Big plays. There will be a lot of big plays made on both offense and defense in his era. You saw the offense make plays in the running game based on the offensive line splits. Wide receivers were able to create separation and make plays, but the corners definitely showed much more technique.
- Ain’t no bones about it. These guys were popping. In shorts. Seeing guys fly around hitting reminded me of something Coach Bowden used to say, “play with reckless abandoned and total disregard for personal safety!” I know in today’s climate that’s not the most political correct sentiment, but there’s only one way to play football: fast and physical. It wasn’t just hitting. Stanford Samuels III and Lavonta Taylor were jamming up WRs. Honey Fried Marv Wilson and Demarcus Christmas we’re going at offensive lineman in pass protection drills like it was a full pads workout. Usually day one is timid, but these guys weren’t having that
- Players were having fun. The DJ cranked it up during a break and instead of being bummed out with the motions of practice, the skill guys began dancing. Also, after big plays, you saw a lot of celebrating going on.
All in all, it’s just practice. But as far as first impressions go, I saw enough to make me want to travel back to campus and see more of it.
Article Originally Appeared on Gridiron Now: http://gridironnow.com/first-impressions-willie-taggarts-new-look-seminoles