1 — One year later, FSU really is about to get fast and furious
OK, go ahead and roll your eyes if you must. I know you heard this 12 months ago when Willie Taggart was hired as head coach, then again when Walt Bell was named offensive coordinator, and numerous times during spring booster tour stops and other interviews with the media.
But the Florida State football team really is going to play up-tempo and wide-open on offense next season.
Those words might ring hollow after what we witnessed this past season. The Seminoles not only struggled to score points and move the ball, but they also were painfully ineffective at running the fast-paced attack for which Taggart was supposed to be known.
That will change in 2019 … for a number of reasons.
For starters, I think there will be a real commitment to it. When things got off to a rocky start this past season, Taggart and Bell slowed things down because they were seeing too many assignment and alignment issues.
Offensive linemen kept getting confused. Wide receivers weren’t lining up correctly before the snap. And quarterback Deondre Francois didn’t seem to be comfortable as the traffic cop, getting everyone moving in the right directions. There also were turnover problems.
But after slowing things down for a few weeks, Taggart admitted midway through the season that he felt like that change of course was a mistake. He said he was determined to start pushing the tempo again.
At times, it worked. At times, it didn’t.
Well, there will be no waffling going forward. By bringing in Kendal Briles as offensive coordinator, Taggart has absolutely doubled-down on going with a hurry-up, no-huddle offense in the future. It’s what Briles did under his father, Art, at Baylor, it’s what he did at Florida Atlantic and Houston over the past two seasons, and it will be his mission here at Florida State.
When Taggart was at USF a few years ago and first started studying other programs to gain a better understanding of spread offensive systems, Baylor was the first school he visited. It’s no surprise that he went directly to the source and hired the younger Briles after the Seminoles’ dismal showing in 2018.
So, why didn’t it work this past season? I think you can point to two primary factors — the offensive line being a wreck due to injuries and Francois not being a great fit for the system. There were some other contributing factors as well, but those were the two biggies.
While we can’t know for sure that those two issues are going to be resolved in 2019, I have absolutely no doubt that there will be a 100 percent commitment to going fast and furious all season. There will be no back-and-forth.
Whether it was during his time at Baylor, FAU or Houston, Briles’ offenses have consistently ranked among the national leaders in plays per game.
FSU averaged just over 70 plays per game this past season, which was about a 10 percent increase in tempo from Jimbo Fisher’s final campaign. I’ll be stunned if there’s not a more dramatic increase in 2019.