Jacksonville Sports Day

PREVIEW: Taggart Football Era Set to Begin at Florida State

TALLAHASSEE — For the first time since 2015 against Texas State, Florida State will open its season at home when Virginia Tech comes to Doak Campbell Stadium on Labor Day night. FSU is participating in a season-opening matchup of ranked teams for the third straight season and 10th time in program history. The Seminoles are 6-3 overall, including 1-0 at home, in the previous nine matchups.

Deondre Francois was announced as FSU’s starting QB by head coach Willie Taggart.

Francois has 14 starts and backup James Blackman has 12. Over the last two seasons, the duo has combined for 5,790 passing yards and 40 touchdowns on 427-of-730 passing. »  on Aug. 27, Francois was named the 2016 ACC Rookie of the Year and ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year after passing for 3,350 yards and 20 touchdowns. His passing yards in 2017 were the 5th-highest single-season total in program history.

Florida State returns one of the nation’s most dynamic rushing duos as sophomore Cam Akers and senior Jacques Patrick combined
for 1,772 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2017.

Akers broke Dalvin Cook’s Florida State freshman rushing record and posted the 9thhighest single-season rushing total in school history with 1,024 yards in 2017, eclipsing Cook’s 1,008 yards from 2014. Akers’ four 100-yard rushing games ranked 2nd all-time among FSU freshmen.

Patrick was the Seminoles’ leading rusher in three games in 2017. He scored six of his seven rushing touchdowns over the final five games of the season after missing two games due to injury.

After sending six defensive players to the NFL Combine, FSU will replace seven starters from the 2017 season but has productive defenders returning.

The Seminoles return 44.1 percent of their tackles from 2017, 45.7 percent of TFL, 50 percent of sacks, 66.7 percent of interceptions, 45.3 percent of pass breakups, 50 percent of quarterback hurries, 75 percent of forced fumbles and 50 percent of their fumble recoveries.

Redshirt senior center Alec Eberle, junior defensive end Brian Burns and junior kicker Ricky Aguayo were named the 2018 FSU team captains by team vote at the end of the fall training camp.

Taggart was named the 10th full-time head coach in Florida State history, and only the third different fulltime head coach since 1976, on Dec. 5, 2017, ushering in an era of Lethal Simplicity on offense and a defense made up of Bad Asses and War Daddies.

According to SportSource Analytics, Taggart has the 2nd-highest percentage of big-play runs among FBS head coaches since 2015. He has had 263 rushing plays, 14.67 percent of rushes called, gain at least 12 yards. He also ranks 5th with 8.5 percent of his plays earning at least 20 yards and 6th with 2.5 percent of his plays gaining at least 40 yards. Coach Taggart’s overall big play percentage of 16.08 ranks 7th.

Since the start of the 2015 season, Coach Taggart’s record is 25-12 (.676) and his offense is averaging 37.84 points per game, the 4th-highest scoring average among FBS head coaches in that time span.

OPENING NOTES: The Florida State football team made its 36th straight bowl appearance, the longest streak in college football history, and secured the program’s 41st consecutive winning season in 2017. Florida State enters 2018 with the 6th-longest active winning streak in the country after ending the 2017 season with wins in each of its final four games. FSU’s bowl streak dates back to the 1982 Gator Bowl. Nebraska had an NCAA-record 35-year bowl streak from 1969-2003. The next longest active bowl streak in the country is Virginia Tech’s 25 straight. The Seminoles’ current streak of 41 consecutive winning seasons is second in FBS history, trailing only a stretch of 42 straight winning seasons compiled by Notre Dame from 1889-1932. Despite an average age of only 46.2 years old when the 2018 season begins Sept. 3, Florida State’s 11 full-time coaches enter the 2018 season with 224 years of combined coaching experience and collectively have experience in every Power 5 conference.

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