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irish insider

Taggart coy on quarterbacks before ND matchup

| Friday, November 9, 2018

Florida State is a program that has a long history of winning. It’s a program with a history with Notre Dame that goes back decades. But, this season, its record of greatness has been overshadowed by its issues.

Zachary Yim | The Observer

Irish defensive linemen prepare to defend the goal line during Notre Dame’s 31-21 win over Northwestern on Saturday at Ryan Field.

The Seminoles (4-5, 2-5 ACC) have struggled to collect wins this season, instead accumulating a wide variety of blowout losses, the opposite of Notre Dame’s (9-0) season. While they have shown flashes of progress over the course of the season, their losing record has been a source of raised eyebrows for many.

Seminoles head coach Willie Taggart handed play calling duties over to his offensive coordinator Walt Bell for Florida State’s most recent game against North Carolina State, and despite not getting the win, Taggart said Monday he thinks Bell will continue to be the signal caller going forward.

“I thought Walt did a good job of calling plays and I’m sure there’s some plays like every play caller that’s always some plays you would like to take back, but I thought he did well,” he said. “I know for myself, being able to see the game a little better and also interject and help out along the way I thought that helped us on the offensive side of the ball. So, I thought our first game from that standpoint, obviously, we didn’t get the win, but I thought him doing that was good and it allowed me to see and be a part of other things within our program.”

Currently, the most pressing question at hand for the Seminoles is which one of their two quarterbacks will be starting Saturday. After redshirt junior Deondre Francois got the start for the majority of the season, he was benched last week in favor of sophomore James Blackman, who passed for 421 yards. However, despite Blackman’s strong start against the Wolfpack, Taggart would not commit to naming a starter for the matchup against the Irish.

“We’ll see. We’ll see on Saturday. We’ll see on Saturday,” Taggart said. “We got to go through the week and see how Deondre is doing and see how these guys are practicing throughout the week and we’ll see on Saturday. We’ll make that decision later in the week.”

However, even though Taggart did not name him the starter for the coming week, he was pleased with his performance last weekend.

“I thought James did well. I told you all at the beginning of the week I had no doubt that James would do a good job when he went in there. Same thing with James, I’m sure there were some plays that he would love to take back,” he said. “He’s such a great competitor and I thought he did a good job of distributing the ball to a lot of different teammates and again he was I thought he did a good job and I thought some of the things we did in helping from a protection standpoint and keeping the back in helped tremendously for him to get those balls off at times.”

When discussing his squad’s preparation for the coming week, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly noted both Blackman and Francois can pass the ball well. But what he was most impressed by was the progress the Seminoles have made over the course of the season, considering where they started, when, he said, they “weren’t in games.”

“They weren’t in some games early on. They were literally not in games,” he said. “So that improvement has put them now in a position where if their talent, right and their ability to eliminate some mistakes and penalties, now they’re back into some football games.”

That improvement, he said, has stemmed most directly from the Seminoles’ offense, but he did note their defense struggled to hold the Wolfpack last week.

“I think offensively primarily, their structure. I thought they were really efficient,” Kelly said. “They threw for 421 yards last week against North Carolina State. They had a hard time slowing them down, North Carolina State. Didn’t get enough possessions. But very easily, if they can make a couple of plays defensively, that’s a different game.”

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About Elizabeth Greason

Elizabeth is a senior studying civil engineering from New York, NY (yes, the actual city). She is a proud resident assistant in McGlinn Hall and is a die-hard Mets and Giants fan. She is currently serving as assistant managing editor of The Observer and she also has an obsession with golf that is bordering on unhealthy.

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