Intro to the #TaggartEra: 2018 FSU Spring Game Recap

Man, I tell ya, it feels good to be a ‘Nole these days.

Willie’s got every Seminole there ever was pumped up about the #TaggartEra. Hell, even if you’re not a ‘Nole, Coach T’s probably got you itchin’ to #DoSomething.

And if you’re associated with a football team that resides in that stank-ass swamp in Gainesville or that pays rent on their stadium from the Miami Dolphins even though you’re a private institution and charge $65k a year for in-state tuition, you’d better get to doin’ somethin’ with a quickness.

The game was a damn good time. Here’s a handful of tidbits that were exceptionally enjoyable as a die-hard ‘Nole.

-60,934 people attended the game. I’m not sure if that number includes the droves of former Seminole legends and players (Deion Sanders, Bobby Bowden, Dalvin Cook, Jalen Ramsey, Telvin Smith, Peter. Freaking. Warrick.), but even if it did, thats a pretty damn good showing by the Seminole faithful, especially considering the record attendance for a game at Doak was 84,409 back in 2013 (a damn fine year, might I add).

And also for reference (and for shit-talking, even if it is just about spring game attendance numbers, whatever man I take any and all victories), UF’s attendance was right around 53,000 people. Winner winner chicken dinner.

I’m not even going to tell you what Miami’s spring game attendance was, but I will tell you the guys over at TomahawkNation noticed that their average home game attendance last year (you remember, when they went 10-3 and sort of made an appearance in the ACC championship game) was only 57,775 sugarcane fans. Our spring game had more fans than Miami averaged per home game last year. That’s just…I don’t even know what that is.

My Goodness.

-Bobby Bowden and his lovely wife, Julia Ann, were welcomed with a friendly and fiery Tomahawk Chop on the 50-yard line before the game started, and you’d better believe Bobby is still the man.

-Halftime proved to be exceptionally entertaining. A flag football game with teams comprised of Seminole Legends and FSU Football Hall-of-Fame inductees was held, and let me tell ya, Peter Warrick’s still got it. Dude’s a ridiculous athlete.

After the game, the infamous “Seminole Rap” was blasted on the jumbo screen (if you haven’t seen it, here ya go. Proceed with caution, it was filmed in 1988.)

Former FSU D-lineman and current DL coach Odell Haggins (who, in case you haven’t noticed, is the absolute epitome of what it means to be Nole-Blooded) had a solo verse in the song (I use the terms “verse” and “song” loosely), and it was absolutely hilarious. 

Coach Taggart was laughin’ his ass off and pointing at Odell, everybody was crackin’ up. It was a great way to poke a little fun while still paying homage to the legends and traditions of Florida State Football.

-A random, way outta left field appearance was made by none other than former Auburn University Heisman winner and current Carolina Panther QB Cam Newton. My girlfriend actually ran into him in the corridor on the way to her seat, and soon after we spotted him a section over from us with his crew up in the stands. 

He and his friends started a pretty solid wave that made it all the way around the stadium a few times, and then for some reason they were trying to stop the wave. It was jolly good fun. There were no dabs, unfortunately. You gotta pay extra for that kinda action.

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Here’s a pic I managed to take of Cam as he was heading out of the stands. I know I know, my true calling is that of the Paparazzi. Maybe in another life.

Turns out Mr. Newton brought his 7v7 team to FSU for some inspiration from Willie and Co. over the weekend. I’m tellin’ ya, everybody wants in on the action.

-At the beginning of the 4th quarter the stadium played “Baby Got Back” and everybody lost their damn minds. The crowd was goin’ crazy, the players on the field were dancing, Willie was gettin’ down, it was great. A bit corny, sure, but why the hell not, ya know? 

It felt like the main point of the Spring Game was to unite every ‘Nole together, and I’d say mission accomplished. There was nothin’ but love and good vibes permeating the stadium.

Like I said, it was a damn good time. Tallahassee had a legit gameday vibe. There was cornhole and beer pong a-plenty.

As for the actual game, it was equally entertaining. Them boys were flyin’ around, makin’ plays, and deliverin’ hits. Here’s my shortlist of players that had exceptional performances and who fans will be screaming their heads off for this upcoming season:

Khalan “Lambo” Laborn. We’re starting to call him “Lambo” because he committed to FSU like a badass. If you haven’t seen it, you’re welcome. Anyway, he had 140 rushing yards on 13 carries, including a 91-yard blastoff for a TD. Heres my Snapchat video of the play from the stands. More on this stud later.

Tamorrion Terry. He’s a big target with a good bit of speed and looks to have a nasty side, which is a beautiful thing for a receiver to have. There was a drive where he really turned it on, I think Hockman hit him on 4 plays in a row, and they were all manly catches.

Dude reminds me of a skinnier Kelvin Benjamin. Nuff said.

Tre’ McKitty. FSU fans are gonna love this guy. We haven’t had a household name TE since famous golfer Jack Nicklaus’ grandson. If I have to tell you his actual name, then you didn’t watch a single televised FSU game from 2011-2014 (It’s Nick O’Leary, I’m ashamed of you).

Tre’ is basically a Wide Receiver in a Tight End’s body. He’s big, super fast, freakishly athletic, and makes OBJ-style one-handed catches like it ain’t no thang. He’s incredibly hard to tackle as well, it would take 3 or 4 ‘Nole defenders to bring him down. Some plays I couldn’t tell if it was him or Jacques Patrick, which is scary to even think about.

Its gonna be Big Play Tre’ all season long, baby.

Dontavious Jackson. I watched this animal of a 5-star LB commit to FSU on TV 2 years ago, and then I watched the previous coaching staff relentlessly undervalue him and almost toss him aside as an afterthought, which makes absolutely no sense to anybody. Lambo Laborn had a post-game quote that certainly caught my attention, to say the least:

“I’m just glad we have a new coaching staff in to show what all of us can do instead of just certain people.”

That statement was of course directed primarily at his own situation, but it sure looks like that statement is holding true for Dontavious as well. He’s getting a true shot, and up to this point he’s taken full advantage. He was making plays all over the field, husslin’ his ass off, and celebratin’ big time with his teammates. I’m ridiculously excited to watch him decapitate mofos this season.

Willie Taggart. He might not be a student-athlete, but trust me, dude’s a player. After the game he did a full lap around the entire stadium and high-fived all the fans in the front row. I was about 2 feet away from him, got a funny Snapchat video of the top of his head (forgot to save the story, I’m quite frustrated with myself. Coulda’ been worth millions one day!).

He just seems like such a cool freakin’ dude, every ‘Nole is extremely proud to call him our coach.

I’m going to go ahead and keep these guys on a superstar watchlist. I’ll be keeping tabs on these guys as the offseason progresses and of course during the season, and I’ll be adding/subtracting players as necessary. Oughtta be interesting to see how Willie and the entire staff develop these incredible athletes into great players and outstanding gentlemen.

The fans got a great show and everybody was having an awesome time throughout the game. And of course, everybody was tuned in to the QB showdown. I’m not reading too much into it yet, because as far as I’m concerned the QB battle won’t begin until Dirtie 12 (Deondre Francois) is back and ready to roll. 

Now, he was just caught with a few g’s of pot by the TPD at his apartment in Tallahassee, along with some other paraphernalia. The case has been closed and he was charged with a misdemeanor and has entered into a diversion program (yeah idk), but I’d think it’s safe to say that the full extent of punishment hasn’t been determined yet.

Taggart has only said simply that the matter will be handled “internally.” I’m of course hoping Francois can turn this into a positive learning experience and have a chance to redeem himself and have a stellar career, but we’ll be playing it by ear for now.  

Anyway, heres a quick recap of the QB battle between James Blackman and Bailey Hockman:

I personally was interested in the opening drive for each QB. I wanted to see if there were any gameday jitters even though they were playing a glorified scrimmage in front of only home fans, which would certainly be a distressing signal.

James Blackman (Gold team) had the ball first, they ran it twice and he missed high on a pass for a 3-and-out. Hard to tell if he had jitters, but the high pass didn’t help his cause.

On the next drive he led a methodical TD drive, chunking down the field to pound it in from a few yards out. It was a solid drive, absolutely, but nothing happened that was really of note.

Meanwhile, Bailey Hockman and the Garnet team came out after the initial 3-and-out by the Gold team. They ran it twice, then Bailey threw a beauty of a pass in-between the zone defense of the CB and the safety to Tamorrion Terry, who then ran it down to the 2-yard line. They scored on the next play. Very solid opening drive from the Hock.

However, he certainly missed his fair share of plays as the game wore on as well. One play in particular, a receiver was running a fly down the left sideline and had a step or two on his defender. Bailey’s throw was on the inside, closer to the hash-marks, which allowed the defender to close in and make a play on the ball. Had it been on his outside shoulder, touchdown.

But, as mentioned, its the spring game. Mistakes are kind of supposed to happen so that the coaches can get a jump on what needs to be corrected first and foremost heading into the fall. If I have to give one QB the edge based entirely on the spring game alone, slight win for Hockman. However, like I said before, this QB battle doesn’t start until Frenchie’s back, and then its “may the best man win.”

And to be honest, I wouldn’t be too surprised if coach T concocts some crazy formations that use multiple QBs. Don’t put it past him. No clue how effective this type of formation would be, but that’s why I’m not wearin’ the visor.

Overall, the Spring Game was a monumental success as the first public showing of the new-look ‘Noles. Its safe to say that just about every Seminole alive has bought into Taggart’s philosophy, and we cannot freakin’ WAIT until football season. My personal favorite quote (tweet) so far from coach T: “Have a great day if you want to.” To me that coincides with the fact that you can always control your attitude and your effort, so if you want to make it happen, make it happen.

Or, in the words of former Seminole Heisman winner Jameis Winston, “If we gon’ do it then, we do it big then.”

If you want it, #DoSomething.

 

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