“In the big picture, it’s culture.”
Starting the 2019 football season with two rough games in a row, is there any hope for the Florida State football team as the season continues? It appears each week, the team starts extremely strong, gaining significant leads yet still manages to be fighting for a win by the end of the fourth quarter. But, in the words of Trevor Matich, ESPN College Football Analyst, “This isn’t a problem with being over-matched in a game – it is a problem with the culture of discipline, focus, effort, and competitiveness in everything related to preparation. Those Seminoles were world-beaters when things were going their way and wilted under adversity.”
According to ESPN, FSU is set to have a strong season. 2019 should, statistically speaking, be a “come back” year according to its Football Power Index formula, a measure of the team strength meant to be the best predictor of a team’s performance. Before the first game against Boise State, the Seminoles were projected to have a 10-2 season, predicted to beat almost every team until Clemson. Not the case, projected wins have now been adjusted to 6.1-5.9.
Courtesy: Chop Chat
Luckily, the team’s offense has improved greatly since last year. ESPN calculated the offensive efficiency as 51.4 out of 100. This is based on the point of contribution on a per-play basis and is weighted for [the] strength of schedule and down-weighted for “garbage time.” “It is on the right track. The Seminole offensive line has been a liability for several years now and will take time to solidify.” In other words, it’s looking better! There’s still a long way to go, but there is potential. According to Matich, this is mainly because the team is trying to come back from bad leadership in the past. “To put it kindly, the locker room Willie Taggart inherited didn’t have the kind of leadership a healthy program needed.”
Courtesy: Tallahassee Democrat
Coming in at a 42.6 defensive efficiency, although not the lowest, this is Florida State’s Achilles heel. Changing up defensive plays takes time to solidify. “The style of play is different and takes getting used to. Missed assignments have been a problem in the second half.” Starting the season against Boise State, an underrated powerhouse with a stud quarterback, and ULM these weaknesses were revealed. “Positive plays were there to be made in the second half of those games, but too often weren’t. There were unnecessary negative plays in those second halves, but they were often made in the spirit of trying to go the extra mile.”
So, ultimately what should fans expect out of this season? “Fans should always expect wins. But realistically, when wins are hard to come by, fans should also note trajectory. Are there fewer mistakes?” This season will focus more on how much the team will improve as opposed to how many wins and losses. “The team has established a baseline that shows great promise, together with frustrating mistakes.” If fans see a decline in these mistakes, the season should be considered victorious. It means that something right is happening at Florida State. They won the last game! Ok, maybe by a single point, but Matich thinks hope is not all lost. “Once the culture of discipline and focus in preparation is firmly established, and once the front-runner mentality is fully purged, you will see a rise in this program. That takes time. I believe Willie Taggart and his staff are doing the right things to turn it around.”
And in the meantime, at least it’s better than being a Dolphins Fan.