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Willie Taggart skeptical of Virginia Tech’s ‘injuries’

OCTAVIO JONES | Times FSU Seminoles head coach Willie Taggart coaches his team in the first quarter against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Florida on Monday, September 3, 2018.
Wednesday 5 September 2018 12.32

While the Willie Taggart honeymoon may be over — or at least winding down — in Tallahassee, FSU's new coach still has fans rallying around him in one regard.

Many undoubtedly share his skepticism over Virginia Tech's plethora of "injuries" in the Hokies' 24-3 romp Monday night.

Five times in the first half, all with FSU on offense, play was stopped for an injured Hokies player. It happened twice in a four-play span late in the second quarter, after the 'Noles had moved inside the Hokies 40.

On at least one of the occasions, when a Hokies defensive tackle knocked helmets with a safety, the stoppage appeared legitimate. Others not so much, according to Taggart and 'Nole fans, who ultimately began booing when play was halted.

Did Taggart think the "injury timeouts" were being taken intentionally by Virginia Tech in an effort to slow down his team? "It was hard not to (think that)," Taggart said Wednesday on the ACC coaches teleconference. "It happened too often."

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Adding to the controversy was the fact Hokies coach Justin Fuente didn't flatly deny his team was faking injuries when asked about it later on the same teleconference.

"I know this, going into the game we were severely concerned about our ability to handle the humidity and the weather, just coming from our climate down there," Fuente said. "We certainly had some issues with it throughout the game. At halftime, (there were) numerous guys in there getting IVs and getting treatment so they could finish out the game."

So does that answer mean Fuente's players were not faking anything?

"My answer is that we had numerous issues with cramping and guys battling through bumps and bruises and nicks and things that they were fighting through," he added.

As it stands, injured players must leave the field for at least one play. With high-tempo offense becoming conventional in college football, Taggart said he could see rules instituted for teams that feign injuries.

"It's kind of like everything else, it comes when it starts happening." he said. "They'll come up with something. Until they do, I don't see why anybody wouldn't do it."

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