Monday, August 6th, 2018 begins the first fall camp for Willie Taggart and the FSU Seminoles. You’re giddy because you know this is now the true official countdown to the college football season.
Players are wondering how practice will be, anticipating the intensity of the 24 scheduled periods, while running thinking of their responsibilities knowing that they have to accomplish more in the next 30 days than any FSU football program since Bobby Bowden was coaching.
This was the first full upheaval of a coaching staff since the 1970s. A lot of the new offensive and defensive systems were put in during the spring, but now is when it counts. Upon the conclusion of camp lies a formidable conference opponent.
Fans share the excitement with the players, coaches and staff. FSU fans are gearing themselves up with season kick off events. I recently participated in one with Josh Newberg from 247 Sports and another’s on the way with the Jax Seminole Club and Charlie Ward.
Here are six questions fans should have answered through fall camp leading up to the kick off on Labor Day at Doak.
Who will be QB1?
Who becomes the leader of the Gulf Coast Offense has split Nole Nation and has had everyone involved in Big 3 Twitter interested since Willie Taggart took over. It’s almost worse than a presidential election. You’ve got Team Blackman and Team Frenchie, with a growing contingent for dark horse candidate Bailey Hockman.
Taggart has been consistent that he can tailor the offense to any QB, but fans have their favorites with no clear wrong reasons. The competition will be fierce with all of them working on weaknesses, both physical and mental.
The main thing is, once the QB is chosen, fans being mature enough to trust the head chief’s choice.
Pace of play
Can you learn how to play up-tempo in this short of time? Taggart only had a few practices in the spring and you could see a clear distinction in the way players approached practice. It was fun, but very hard and fast.
The biggest hire he had this off-season was Coach O and a lot of the Noles ability to play fast falls on his strength and conditioning program.
The biggest areas where fans should be looking for changes is along the defensive and offensive lines. Can the big boys adapt to running more plays and stay healthy during the process?
Will the linebacker core take the next step?
FSU hasn’t had a name linebacker since Telvin Smith and even he wasn’t as big of a household name as some of the greats who have played the position. During the dynasty era, you saw the linebacker core stand out – and it wasn’t only for the iconic neck protectors with the spear that every starter wore during that time.
FSU has had some bangers in the middle.
Who will emerge this season is the question most fans should have. It’s arguably the weakest position in terms of production. Is Raymond Woodey as good a developer as a recruiter? We shall find out shortly.
Is this receiving corps explosive enough?
You’ve seen flashes on the field articles written about Tamorrion Terry, D.J. Matthews and Nyqwan Murray, but will they be able to pick up this offense in a short time and produce?
Murray is the leader in terms of production; can he take the next step? Can you count on a talented, yet unproven core that is necessary in running the spread offense?
We’ve seen them in practice, but what can they do on the field.
Will players like Keith Gavin and George Campbell finally take the step? Coach David Kelly is known for developing guys in running proper routes, will he have more success than Nole legend Lawrence Dawsey did? FSU has only had a few receivers drafted in recent years, can the cycle be broken this year?
Are there enough carries for the running backs to share?
Cam Akers is one of the best running backs in the nation. Coming off a freshman record-setting year, can he take the next step in this offense and how does that look?
The backfield is loaded with senior Jacques Patrick, the more physical runner, and Khalan Laborn, hungry and looking to provide a spark after having the better spring of them all.
Not to mention Amir Rasul amongst others.
It’s looking very similar to the running back corp of 2013 that had Freeman, Wilder and Williams, all of whom spent time in the NFL. Coach Donte’ Pimpleton definitely has more talent collectively than he had at Oregon to put on the field.
How will this team handle 3rd and 4th down?
Jimbo Fisher was very much a clock management type of coach. Many fans grew grumpy about how he handled 3rd and 4th-and-short. Taggart has said that FSU will go for it in many of these situations as opposed to punting the ball, something that makes him more like early Bowden with his gambles in key situations.
One of his favorite short-yardage plays, “34 Belly” or “Wham,” seems to be gone with the merging of the fullback into the tight end position, but what will fans see in terms of power football in these situations?
The only thing more frustrating than the offense’s handling of 3rd-and-short was the defense’s inability to get off the field on any type of 3rd down situation. Third and Kelly – 3rd and long – as fans called it, saw teams routinely converting down and distances they shouldn’t have. Will defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett play soft coverage or will he force QBs to have to get rid of the ball sooner than they are comfortable and trust in his athletes?
This requires a changing of mindset in the players that isn’t always just taken care of in the weight room or at practice. They’ve got to believe in the play calls and see the success on the field.
Taggart and company have left fans with much to be excited about during the off-season by handling business in the areas they can control. He’s proven to be an Ace recruiter taking, FSU from the 60th to 11th in the 2018 recruiting rankings. Currently, he has them in the top ten and rated second in the ACC. Many recruits in this upcoming class are sold on him, but many of the blue chip prospects who are left undecided are really waiting to see what the product looks like on the field.
If FSU comes out the gates hot, you will see people even more excited, and nervous, about what’s going on in Tally.
What’s the atmosphere going to be like in Tallahassee for all home games, in particular the first home game against Virginia Tech? There will be many tailgates and gatherings surrounding the first game. Peter Warrick will have his jersey retired and many Doak Boy legends will be in attendance.
Make sure to check out the Doak Boyz weekend that I’ve got lined up. The city will be rocking and ready to see the War Daddies and Bad Asses take the field.
Hope you’ve got your popcorn ready, the 2018 football season is upon us.
Article Originally Appeared on Gridiron Now: http://gridironnow.com/six-questions-for-the-seminoles-to-answer-as-practice-begins/