1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 ,7, 8, 9 – it’s the 10 spring commandments.
Well, it’s more like rules or things to look for during FSU spring football practice, which begins March 21. I was inspired to write this as I was listening to Christopher Wallace, aka Notorious B.I.G., as Friday marked the 21st anniversary of his death. One of my favorite songs is “Ten Crack Commandments,” which was on his “Life After Death” CD in 1997. I know not everyone who reads my articles listens to rap, but I figure a little context would help. (I could write 100 things about spring practice, but I didn’t want to write something that long.)
1. Forget the guy that left to coach at another school. I get it. Trust me, I really do. I don’t like anybody taking shots at my school, but let’s forget Jimbo Fisher and roll with Willie Taggart. It’s old news. No need to read or write any more articles or waste energy.
2. It takes time. Remember that Taggart is inheriting a talented roster but one that kind of lost faith – at a minimum, it lost focus – in the process. Teams only get so many live practices, so it will take time for cohesion to take place, especially on offense. There are numerous young and capable playmakers, but they have yet to do it in games.
3. Who emerges as leaders? Who takes over the locker room? Taggart has said in interviews that he sees Marvin Wilson and James Blackman being more vocal. That’s necessary. You have to have the alphas. Derwin James was one, but FSU needs more guys like DeMarcus Walker. A lot of freshmen had fire last season; could it be one of them? I’m anxious to see who is willing to take the reins.
4. Which recruits show up for the spring game? This will be a big test of the Taggart effect. FSU’s spring game is April 14, and numerous teams in the ACC and SEC have spring games that day (among them, Clemson, Florida, Louisville, Miami, Virginia Tech … and Texas A&M). So who will be in Tallahassee? These are unofficial visits, so the cost is incurred by the recruit. It can be difficult to spend the money necessary to travel to two or three spring games. Can that magic stay in effect?
5. Position battles. Is it Francois’ or Blackman’s team? Or are we overlooking the lefty? Who’s the guy at wide receiver? Patrick or Akers – who will be the feature back? I won’t dive into this too much now, but be on the lookout for jobs that could be won. A quote that Taggart used at Oregon – and one he used at his introductory news conference; he does this a lot, as rival fans like to point out – was, “Your job is to keep your position. It’s my job to find recruits who want to take your position.” That’s really the only way to win consistently at a big program.
6. Show up to the spring game or some practices. There will be open practices and scrimmages. Go watch for yourself. And if you’ve never gotten to see the facilities, then go look for yourself. Don’t just rely on what you read. I’m not suggesting you go against my mantra of “Click the link, then share,” but I am encouraging fans to take it all in. If nothing else, go to the spring game and see what is in store. Hey, for $10, you get to see FSU, Salt-N-Pepa and Vanilla Ice. OK, that’s cool for the 30+ crowd, but for the younger folks, there’s a concert Friday with Lil’ Something and Young What’s His Name.
7. Check out the new-look offensive line. My sources say that line coach Greg Frey stays on the grind. He’s in the football offices early and leaves late. He is committed to making sure the offensive line no longer is the weak link. It’ll will take a lot of work to move from a zone scheme to a “Big on Big” or gap scheme.
8. Check out “The House” defense. What you should want to see is how they will respond to the familiar-yet-more advanced version of what they are used to on defense. I expect the defense to be better than the offense by the end of spring because of this. From what I understand, the only assistant who spends more time at the facilities than Frey is defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett.
9. How will the former players respond? When I was a Seminole, we used to envy Miami and how many of the UM legends returned to campus to hang out with current players. Well, the response of former ’Noles to Taggart has been huge. I’ve never heard this many say they want to attend a spring game. The hiring of Charlie Ward as an “ambassador” definitely doesn’t hurt. Former players need to return. Even if it’s guys that the current players and recruits never really heard of, it’s important for that legacy to be introduced.
10. See if Taggart’s legit. We all knew Bobby Bowden and what he stood for. What about Taggart? Now, with social media and the 24-hour news cycle, one cannot help but judge and look at every aspect of this journey. It has been highly covered thus far, but now there’s an opportunity to actually see who Willie Taggart is. Is he a vocal coach? Is he hands-on? Who does he compare to?
It’s all still new, and Taggart and FSU still are in the honeymoon stage. But from a brand standpoint, it’s important for everyone to rally around and support the program.
Article Originally Appeared on Gridiron Now: http://gridironnow.com/fsu-spring-football-commandments