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April 14, 2018

Willie Taggart

Tallahassee, Florida

COACH WILLIE TAGGART: Opening statement? We're still undefeated.

Q. What was the victory lap at the end?
COACH WILLIE TAGGART: Just wanted to let them know I appreciate them coming out and showing up. That was a very impressive crowd for a spring game, a lot of energy in there and just kind of give us a little preview what it's going to be like that first ballgame. That was really impressive, come out there and see that. It said a lot.

Like I told our team in the locker room, our fans showed them how much they pressure us and how they are behind us to take care of our business this off-season and get better so we can go out and show them how much we appreciate them in the way that we play.

Q. What does it mean to you personally that you didn't ask them to come break a record or do anything like that? Just love to see you guys here and pack the place.
COACH WILLIE TAGGART: To me, that's Florida State. That's what we're all about. Our fans love this place. They are passionate about it and that's how it should be. There's high expectations right here for everyone, our fans, and us and they showed it. They did their part. They showed up. That was big time. That was impressive. I had to pull out my phone and take a picture of it myself. That's pretty cool.

Q. A lot of big plays and a lot of things you probably liked, but it's very easy in a spring game, there wasn't a single turnover from scrimmage by your quarterback. How tough is that to deal with in a spring game?
COACH WILLIE TAGGART: It was pretty tough. I'm sure if we'd have made a quarterback live or in some of those balls where we blew the whistle, fumble snaps and stuff, could have got the ball back then. The guys did a good job taking care of the ball, which is important.

We always talk about taking care of the ball. A little disappointed defensively we didn't get any take aways because that's something we stress throughout spring ball. I'm sure those guys are going to watch the film and be disappointed on both side of the ball that they didn't get a take away and that's things that we need. We need take aways. We didn't go a game without having a take away.

Q. How pleased were you with the way both offenses ran?
COACH WILLIE TAGGART: We can be a lot better. I didn't think we were as consistent as we'd like to be. I know with the gold team, there were too many mistakes, drive killers. They have a good drive and then have a bad snap that would put them back second and long or false start that put them back and those are things we can't have.

We've got to give ourselves a chance to run a play. You know, to get those penalties before the ball even snap. That's unacceptable. We can't be that way. We can't beat ourselves like that. There's a lot of things we've got to clean up but it's also good to see some guys make some plays out there. Especially when they making plays when it's not the first unit together. Got a mixture of guys in there playing together, and that's one thing I like about our spring game is, you have different guys out there playing and they have to learn to work together. You just never know when you get to the season, somebody goes down and somebody has to step in and play.

It was good to see those guys that didn't necessarily play with each other all spring and go out and execute plays, which tells me guys are getting better.

Q. Some guys that didn't play a lot last year, what does that say --
COACH WILLIE TAGGART: I think it says we have some kids that didn't play last year and they worked really hard this spring. Pretty good football players. I'm glad that they red-shirted, a lot of them, and it's only beginning for those guys and it shows that we have some talent at those position and guys that's going to help some guys that we didn't see last year play that's going to help us this year. I wouldn't necessarily say -- simplicity, but it's because we have got some good players.

Q. Did Derrick's brother coming back surprise you --
COACH WILLIE TAGGART: Yeah, I knew about it. It was special. I teared up myself. He had not seen his brother in two years and you can only imagine what he goes through, probably every day, praying for his brother and praying that he come back home safe.

Therefore, his brother, surprise him like that, I thought it was big time and we appreciate his brother and everything he do for us and our country. I know that just probably made Derrick's day knowing that his brother was here. He got a another chance to see his brother alive and well and hug him in front of all those people. That was big time.

Q. How long was this planned?
COACH WILLIE TAGGART: I think I probably knew for about two weeks now.

Q. Big secret?
COACH WILLIE TAGGART: Not that kind of secret. Knew that was going to turn out really well. I saw him -- actually I was told about two weeks ago and to be honest with you, I kind of forgot about it and then I saw his brother in our lobby and I thought, man, this is going to be pretty cool.

Q. Obviously you had lots of film. What were your impressions of the two quarterbacks?
COACH WILLIE TAGGART: They did some good things, bad things. It can be better. You know, I was really impressed with Bailey because Bailey has been hobbled by his foot. But for him to go out and execute and lead his team to victory says a lot about him and what he's all about.

Then James made some plays, too, but I think James needs some help. Can't have those dropped balls. That takes away. I didn't think necessarily got in rhythm. I didn't think James got a rhythm, probably could have done a better job of getting in some rhythm and help him out a little bit.

I will say Bailey had some good receivers on that side to help him, too, but he did a good job getting the ball to him. But for him to be hobbled and execute his offense the way he did was impressive.

Q. The receivers, Tamorrion Terry, he had one -- what are your thoughts --
COACH WILLIE TAGGART: He only had one?

Q. He only had one.
COACH WILLIE TAGGART: He tried to get me and say he had two. He tried -- oh, boy. We'll see it on film. I'm with you. He had one.

Terry, he's a really good player and he's one of the guy that caught my attention as soon as I got here and got a chance to watch Bowl practice. He's one of the first guys that I noticed. He's one of the first guy that I was able to remember his name because he was making plays every day out in practice.

It was good to go through spring and get to know him a little better and also see him and know how you going to be able to use him come the fall time. But I think he's going to be not a good football player but a big-time football player for us.

Q. We get a little glimpse of the different ways you can use D.J., the pass receiving, obviously jet sweeps maybe, but is D.J. going to be kind of a versatile player?
COACH WILLIE TAGGART: Yeah, he can do a lot for us. He's a ballplayer. We got to find ways to get the ball in his hand because he's special once he has it in his hand. We'll move him around and again try to exploit defenses as much as we can and get him in space. Kid is really good at spacing. He can stop on a dime. Like those kind of guys. He can stop on a dime and go zero to 60 real quick.

Q. Never seen this many guys back for spring. What does that mean to you personally?
COACH WILLIE TAGGART: It means the world because we -- that's something we wanted from day one. We talked about getting our former players back for spring ball and making it a weekend for them.

So often you have weekends or alumni weekends, usually in the fall, and I didn't want it to be in the fall. I wanted it to be all about them, you know, and give me an opportunity to get around them as well and share my vision with them.

But it's also great that they come around and our players get to see them, get to see the guys that helped build this program and come back and show their passion and pride for this university. Need some of our guys to continue that, what they started.

It's hard to sit around and just talk to our guys about it without them seeing and knowing some of those guys. So that was really good. It was just good to see them all. You're seeing guys from the 60. You're seeing guys from the 70s, the 80s, the 90s, the 2000s. You see them all. To me that's what it's all about.

This place is special. We have so much tradition and so much great players and this is a football team and a football program and we all want them back. We want them involved. Me personally, like I told them last night, again, it's over 300 guys there which was really impressive. Shouldn't matter who the football coach here; it's their football program. They play here and they have blood, sweat and tears here, and no matter what the coach, they should always support their team and take pride in their university.

Q. A guy like Khalan, what did he show you tonight?
COACH WILLIE TAGGART: It was funny because we talked as a staff and we all felt like he was going to have a big game tonight. Why? Kid is highly competitive and again, he's had a really good spring. But we really thought he was going to be the guy to come in this spring game and have a heck of a spring game, and he did.

So kudos to the coaches for talking to up. He's had a really good spring. He's a good football player, and I tell you what, I'm really proud of the kid because he's grown up big time and he's maturing, slowly but surely, and I think today is going to just add on to what he can do for us.

Q. Was there concern -- after the long run, a lot of production, was that just splitting --
COACH WILLIE TAGGART: I think a little splitting of the offense and play calling, you know, you throw the ball a lot and you can't run it. But again it was good to see some of those runs, some of those explosive runs. Probably would have called a lot more runs if I were those guys and consider the way the lines were, I would have called a lot more.

But I saw some good things. I saw some bad things. Again, that's part of it and we've got to make sure we make some corrections and get better.

Q. Do you get the sense from the players or people in the community that you've spoken with or players coming up to you saying that there's a different attitude around here now or they feel a little bit more excitement around here or that things are kind of different?
COACH WILLIE TAGGART: Yeah, they are different. They should be different. We're doing a little different but you can sense the energy around the whole community. Our players, I see that every single day. I don't have to pull any teeth to get those guys to come out and practice.

They are fired up in practice every day and that's half the battle when you can get guys come out there ready to compete. You don't have to scream and yell at them to get them going. That's pretty cool. But everywhere you walk around in Tallahassee, you see the excitement and hear it from the people when they talk about it and when you walk in that stadium and see the way it was, there's nothing but juice, energy, excitement, which says a lot. I think the whole Seminoles family is excited about what's going on and we've got to continue to build on that excitement.

Q. Did what happened today totally exceed your expectations? Did you have expectations?
COACH WILLIE TAGGART: I wouldn't say I necessarily had expectations of what I was going to see out there. I was very, very impressed. I was very impressed. But again, it goes back to what I always thought Florida State was and our fans are, and they are so passionate about our school and they showed that today. Man, that was big time. Driving into work this morning and just seeing people walking around campus, seeing tailgate, I'm like, it's pretty cool for a spring game, for them all to come and though their love, man. It's on us to make sure we do all our part to keep them happy, as well.

Q. Would you say it's ahead of schedule? How would you compare this install?
COACH WILLIE TAGGART: I would say it's right on schedule. We're not as good as we want to be and we're not as bad as we thought we'd be. It's kind of right on schedule. We've got a lot of work to do.

I think this off-season's going to say a lot about our football team and how much work they put in themselves because now is the time where we can't be around and our coaches are going to be out recruiting.

I think this is where the leadership really take place and more important, it's going to show me how serious our guys are about getting better and getting our football program back to where we know it should be, by the way the work they put this in the off-season when the coaches aren't around.

It's going to be big. They understand the plays we're doing and how we practice. It's going to be big for them to take that through the off-season and do it amongst each other.

Q. Was it the hard stuff you installed in these 15 practice and you expect to get more out of the summer workouts?
COACH WILLIE TAGGART: What I expect for this off-season is for our guys to go and start back over from day one spring ball. Again, go over that stuff even more. I think it's important that, again, our guys understand the foundation of what we're going to do.

So come training camp, we can put in a lot more and a lot sooner. But we put the foundation of the offense and defense, which allow our guys to go out and practice and work on their craft daily and understand it. You know, so that's going to be big. But our guys got to do it. You know, if they are not out there working and doing those things, then it doesn't matter, at all.

But we're going to see who is going to barbeque and who is going to mildew.

Q. With Francois and Vincent, what's the status with the team and what are some things you're hoping to see from him moving forward after Thursday?
COACH WILLIE TAGGART: He's still with our football team. Deondre and I, we talked and like I told you guys, we're going to handle it internally, but he talked. He understand his responsibility as a student athlete here. He understand my expectation of what I'm looking for, especially when it comes to our quarterback. He's got to be smart about who he's around and what he's around, and make good decisions.

I advise him to just make sure he's around his teammates all the time.

Q. Is he still on track rehab-wise?

Q. So what is the timetable?
COACH WILLIE TAGGART: Again, he'll be out with the team during this off-season and working and come training camp, he should be full go till we get out there and compete and be ready to roll.

Q. Before the spring you said something along the lines of you wanted to see what the team is good at to build on -- 15 practices, have you seen an identity, and same for defense?
COACH WILLIE TAGGART: What are we good at -- we're good at playing football. Again, I think we can run the football. We can throw the football.

I think the big thing for us now is being consistent and the only way to be consistent is knowing exactly how and why we're doing the things, you know, and being able to do it over and over again. Same thing defensively. Those guys are doing some really good things. Coach Barnett doing some really good things on that side of the ball, some things that gave us some problems throughout the spring, as well. But we just got to continue to get better at them.

You know, I thought our guys, especially defensively, did a great job of getting to the ball, run-stopping. The D-Line I think is going to be the strength of our defense and what they can do. There's a lot of things we didn't do tonight that you guys will see in the fall. We kind of kept it vanilla tonight, which is pretty good. It's good to see we were able to be productive by being simple.

Q. Jaiden -- an indication of what kind of player he is?
COACH WILLIE TAGGART: Yeah, Jaiden is a dude. He's a dude, man. That kid, he's come here and he's done everything he told me he was going to do. He said, "Coach, I'm not coming way over here from the West Coast to stand over beside you."

He said, "Hey, I'm coming here to play, Coach." He's impressed all of us, not just coaches but his teammates and all. I'm more fired up about that more than anything. Just how his entire teammates embrace him and welcome him in here, and I think it's because of who he is and what he stand for. You know, on and off the field, he's going to be out there competing with the best. He's not backing down to anyone. He's one of those guys you've got to tell him to slow down and stop. And then he's going to go to class. He's going to try to be the best student he can be in the classroom and he's going to do the right things away from here and I'm not just saying just with his teammates. I see him with other athletes on campus and just how they have embraced them, too, which I think is pretty cool because he hasn't been here that long. But it says a lot about who he is and what he stand for, and he's going to make our football team a lot better.

Q. What did you Coach Odell?
COACH WILLIE TAGGART: I just want to make sure everybody was looking and paying attention to it because I know some of our players probably hasn't seen it before. I saw it once. I thought it was pretty cool. I was actually waiting, you know, I saw everybody else, I was like, they got to get Odell's part, they got to do it, and sure enough it came up. He's a little slimmer back then, a little quicker. (Laughter).

But that was pretty cool. You just don't see that in Odell, not the young Odell, I guess. When we young, we do some crazy things, but that was pretty cool.

Q. Single digit --
COACH WILLIE TAGGART: Not until the fall. They still got to do some things. Like I say, you've got to be a dude, be a good football player but you've got to do well in the classroom and you've got to do well in our community and do well away from football. All those three things, there's three things I evaluate our guys on and that's them being the best football player they can be, the best student they can be and have the best character they can have.

You know, if our guys got those three things in order, they can get their job, their numbers back. But if they don't, they will play with the numbers they had today.

Q. Anything else come as a surprise to you tonight that you can work on offensively or defensively?
COACH WILLIE TAGGART: I wouldn't say come as a surprise, but I do know that there's a lot of work to be done. We're nowhere near where we want to be. That's the beauty is we have some -- we have a lot of time to continue to work before we have to be where we need to be because we have one heck of an opponent that first game. We've got to make sure we working on that daily.

And I will say this, last but not least: I enjoyed working with some of you guys this spring, enjoyed coming out every morning. Appreciate you and look forward to it. Matt, thanks for coming up here. Appreciate you. You're part of the fan base, come way up here to watch it, I love it.

Thank you all very much and you all have a great rest of the night, if you want to.

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