When Florida State (5-7) lost this season, too often the Seminoles lost big.
FSU’s 41-14 loss to No. 11 Florida (9-3) was the Gators’ largest margin of victory in the series since Nov. 28, 2009. The Seminoles’ 28-27 loss to Miami was the closest setback of the season, but the next closest was a 47-28 loss to NC State.
Six of FSU’s seven losses were by a margin of at least 19 points.
FSU coach Willie Taggart said he blames neither the talent nor physicality of his team. Taggart points, instead, to the emotional trials of rebuilding a program.
“A lot of it is mental,” Taggart said. “That’s part of changing the culture and getting to that point. I said it at the beginning of the year that the thing I was concerned about with our football team is how we deal with adversity. I’ve seen that from afar that we didn’t handle that well. That’s a big part of our problem is when things don’t go our way, then we didn’t respond the right way.”
FSU’s offensive production was the glaring issue. With 12 minutes remaining before halftime against UF, the Seminoles had mustered only five passing yards.
Seminoles quarterback Deondre Francois finished 14-of-29 passing for 154 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions on Saturday. Turnovers and penalties, one of which nullified a 70-yard touchdown pass to Cam Akers, crushed FSU.
“The first interception: That’s where the game turned,” Francois said while fighting back tears. “We were going in to score, going into our red zone and then I threw a pick because we’re not detailed enough. We’re not on the same page, which we should be at this point in the season. It’s just sad that it had to end this way.”
For the FSU senior class, the loss to Florida will sting for a while.
Seniors Nyqwan Murray, Jacques Patrick and Alec Eberle were a part of what remained from Florida State’s elite teams during former coach Jimbo Fisher’s tenure. They are left to hope the team they leave behind will rally next season.
“I told them I love them; I appreciate them,” Taggart said of the seniors. “They didn’t ask for this change but they bought into what we asked them to do and those guys, they fought all year to try to help us get the program back right. I appreciate every single one of them for that because I wasn’t the coach that brought them here, but they loved this place and they bought into it.
“I’m disappointed we didn’t finish it the way we wanted to for those guys.”