Notre Dame Football Preview 2018: The Florida State Seminoles

When the Florida State Seminoles pop up on 2018 Notre Dame football schedule in November, an early verdict should be in on whether or not the Seminoles made the right call in hiring new head coach Willie Taggart. The move came in the wake of Jimbo Fisher’s move to Texas A&M, with former South Florida coach Taggart coming across the country after being in charge for just one year at Oregon.

[Related: Catch up on all of Note Dame’s 2018 opponents with our ongoing series on opponent profiles]

Florida State had an uncharacteristic down year, finishing at 7-6 on the year. When these two teams take the field, the Irish will be hoping for better luck after having dropped six of the eight meetings in their history. This year’s matchup marks the first time since 2003 that the Seminoles have come to South Bend.

Florida State Offense: Crossing Fingers

A question mark that likely won’t be settled until training camp is at quarterback. Coming back from a knee injury, Deondre Francis is hoping to get back to his 2016 form, when he was a mainstay at this position. The man that replaced him last year, James Blackman, isn’t quite as talented athletically and also needs to sharpen his touch.

One of the bright spots from last year’s struggles was the performance of then-freshman running back Cam Akers, who broke the 1,000-yard threshold with 1,024 yards. He’ll be working with senior Jacques Patrick, who’s been dependable over the course his career in Tallahassee. Each players found the end zone seven times in 2017.

At wide receiver, there’s not much experience among the options in this unit, with the key player being Nyqwan Murray, who hauled down 40 receptions and scored four touchdowns. Keith Gavin snagged 27 passes last year, but after that, there’s limited experience remaining.

That’s not the case when it comes to the offensive line, though one issue that needs to improve here is the lack of pass protection being offered. Over the past two years, Seminole quarterbacks have been sacked a total of 68 times, which is going to keep the team either struggling or being over-reliant on the running game.

Florida State Defense: Strong Up Front

The starters at end, Brian Burns and Joshua Kaindoh, are both standouts who know how to quickly get to the ball. Burns finished with 48 tackles, including 13.4 tackles-for-loss and 4.5 sacks, While Kaindoh made the most of his 17 tackles, trapping 6.5 runners behind line and finishing with four sacks. Inside, Demarcus Christmas is likely to be joined by Marvin Wilson, who’s yet to live up to his billing.

ACCDN's Top 5 Plays of the 2020 Notre Dame Football Regular Season

The linebacking corps will have a completely new look with all three starters gone. Two possibilities to replace those dpearted players are Dontavious Jackson, who’s been inconcsistent during his Seminole career and Emmett Rice, who’s battled injuries. A pair of interesting options are Leonard Warner, who looked good in limited time, and Amari Garner, a true freshman with the talent to immediately step into the starting lineup

As always, Florida State has talent in secondary, but must once again fill two holes. At one of the corner slots, Levonta Taylor is looking to build on his 18 tackles, two picks and three pass deflections.

Florida State Special Teams: A Wide Spectrum

Ricky Aguayo has been a consistent presence at kicker for the Seminoles and returns for his third season, with Logan Tyler also back for his third campaign. In contrast to Aguayo, Tyler’s punts have not always been delivered as hoped, which has caused some havoc on coverage for the special teams.

The Last Time Notre Dame Played Florida State

As part of the 2014 Notre Dame football schedule, the fifth-ranked Irish traveled to Tallahassee to face the second-ranked Seminoles and came within a questionable pass interference call of winning. Trailing 31-27 and at the Florida State two, Everett Golston connected with Corey Robinson for the apparent game-winner with 13 seconds left.

Unfortunately, that interference call negated the score and on fourth down, Golston threw an interception in the end zone. That wrecked a solid night for the signal caller, who threw for 313 yards and three touchdowns. On the ground, Tarean Folston ran for 120 yards for the Irish.


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  1. Duranko,
    Your post below about the much-maligned Bobby era reminded me of when FSU (never getting respect…like what Joe Paterno went through early at Penn State) started THREE games on the road, all against good teams. Fans chalked “the Noles are coming” on the sidewalks at ND during the summer session. I think we were the second team, (Noles beat the first team). Faust was our coach, and he ended up with four great career wins at ND…against Shembechler in the first night game, at Pittsburgh, when Pitt was ranked #1, against a Jim Kelly QB’d Miami team, and against a Doug Flutie QB’d BC team. He might have a win against Paterno too, but it was not a good PS team if he did. But Bobby got him in a close one with a draw play on third and long late in the game. I was praying that they NOT run a draw there with the LB’s totally bailing in those situations! But Mary must have been busy with Baby Jesus, because Bobby’s draw picked up the first down easily. Too bad, because that team had actually played pretty well until that. That effectively ended that game.

    BGC ’77 ’82

  2. Willie Taggart is a rising coaching star, but there is another factor that is very imporant, and very menacing to both Notre Dame, OUR beloved and perpetual Fighting Irish, and to other ACC schools.

    Taggart grew up as a Florida State fan, his kin rooted for the “noles. He was born in ’76 and was a teenager when the ‘Noles were rising under the oft-and-unfairly maligned Bobby Bowden. That rise began in ’85. Taggart was well schooled in that incredible Noles-Canes rivalry. That brings an extra level of passion.

    Further, Saban identified Taggart as a future coaching star;

    And then, if you want an empirical biopsy, just look at the arc of his coaching tenure at USF, when he cleaned up the mess of Skippy Holtz.

    These things take time, but Florida State should, in a couple of years, challenge the hegemony of Clemson.

    ciptfHat d stateavertn

  3. Brad Sullivan , nice info on FSU. Let’s hope Irish are undefeated or a one loss team by the time Seminoles visit South Bend. This game could loom large –if Irish are in mix come November for shot at play offs.

  4. That FSU game in ’14 was one of the most heartbreaking losses I’ve experienced, especially considering how huge of a game that was back when FSU was playing for the title. That 4th and long completion that Golson somehow found Robinson on was Golson’s best play as an ND QB. Then to get screwed by the refs like that was total garbage. It’s not PI if the DB is bumping you on the line as you’re trying to run a route. And Fuller was already in his route as well. The FSU players knew they screwed up by not switching and were mad at each other. They didn’t even think about yelling at the ref for the PI but got bailed out by one anyway.

  5. “A question mark that likely won’t be settled until training camp is at quarterback. Coming back from a knee injury, Deondre Francis is hoping to get back to his 2016 form,?

    IMO The Crimson Tide did this to him deliverately.

  6. Greg,

    I read that Jimbo was such an arrogant prick, that everyone at FSU wanted him out…even many of the players did not like him. No doubt he is a proven winner, but I am glad he is gone. LOL. No doubt he will do well at Texas A&M. I wish Kevin Sumline would have done a tad bit better. I used to hang out with him every now and then when he and I were at Purdue together. Go Irish!

    1. Positive Pete, I’d be more than happy if Brandon simply puts up 300 yards passing on them with a 60% completion rate. That, combined with our running back’s power game and Brandon’s natural ability to hit a homerun with his legs from anywhere on the field, would be more than enough to notch a win against just about any team. Coach Kelly teams have been very tough at home during his entire career at ND (with the exception of one injury stricken year when we had no depth and 2016, of course). I see us winning everything at home in 2018…starting with Michigan and finishing with FSU. It would be interesting if Michigan finishes 12-1, wins the Big Ten, and we finish 11-1 with a head to head win over the wolverines…wouldn’t that be “fun” for the Committee? No matter which of us they screw, it would certainly be the beginning of the end for this absurd 4 game playoff format (which necessarily screws AT LEAST one Power Five champ EVERY YEAR!) Then we can move to an eight team playoff with the five POWER FIVE championship games automatic play-in berths and three AT LARGE spots. (Well, I can dream, can’t I?).

      Think about this: If ND ever goes unbeaten during the regular season again (as in 2012) the Committee will have a real Hobson’s Choice…either screw an undefeated Notre Dame team, which is practically unthinkable, or screw TWO Power Five Champs, which would piss off almost as many fans as screwing ND would! Either way, it will be the end of the Committee and the stupid 4 team format. It can’t come soon enough for me.

      BGC ’77 ’82

      1. BGC, going to elite eight would possibly eliminate a bonafide competitor from being left out. Will make things more exciting to see a MAC, Big Sky, Mountain West Champion( undefeated) get a chance for the big time. Only obstacle is getting Bowl franchise locations to get with the program.

      2. Greg,
        The money would solve that problem. And an eight team playoff should be the end of it…it’s one thing to talk about it being unfair if you are left out at number five or six, like TCU several years ago, and the “other” national champion from Florida last year…it’s quite another thing to whine about being left out when you are ranked ninth or tenth. Nobody would have much sympathy for that, beyond the coach’s wife or mother.

        BGC ’77 ’82

    2. Well, Sumlin now has a coaching job,at Houston. He may find a nice home there, as Christ Petersen did at Boise.

      Saban kills coaches. Really. he just kills them. He has wiped out Les Miles and now Sumlin. Gus Malzahn is hanging on.
      But Sumlin, your pal, may be a better coach than is currently believed by the folks at Sing Sing on the Brazos. ,

      1. Les Miles was a great coach, but he tolerated a pedestrian offense for too long for the fanbase. That’s how it looked to me from up here in Indiana anyway. He would be a one termer at Notre Dame with that offense. And I know he could have changed some…but it seems like he never did.

        BGC ’77 ’82

    1. Well Greg, if Jimbo is really as great of a coach as the talking heads on the sports channels and the spendthrifts at A&M seem to think, we might face him, in the playoffs (if we make it). Jimbo will simply beat LSU, Alabama, Mississippi State, Mississippi and Auburn, and then beat Georgia in the Conference Championship, right? NOT!!! Texas A&M loses 3 or 4 games (and about 15 million dollars) this year.

      BGC ’77 ’82

  7. Semin NOOOS I say!!!!! Wimbush will put up 300 Hondo on them in the passing game!!!!!!!! Go Irish!!!!!!

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