1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Florida State Seminoles

Willie Taggart on the state of FSU football: ‘It’s going well. We’re undefeated’

The Seminoles head coach was in Tampa on Sunday to talk with reporters and fans about the 2019 Seminoles.
Florida State football coach Willie Taggart addresses reporters Sunday during a stop on the Seminole Boosters' speaking tour in Tampa. (MATT BAKER | TIMES)
Published May 19
Updated May 20

TAMPA — The difference between Willie Taggart’s first offseason as Florida State’s coach and his second was obvious Sunday during his local stop on the Seminole Boosters’ spring tour.

A year ago, he spoke at a packed crowd that welcomed him to Armature Works with the war chant. On Sunday, he addressed a group of less than 100 at Topgolf.

That’s what a 5-7 inaugural season will do for the public perception surrounding a program. The end of FSU’s NCAA-record bowl streak also leads to questions like this one from a fan in the front row:

What happened last year?

RELATED: Where is FSU football after Willie Taggart’s second spring?

“We didn’t deal with adversity well,” said Taggart, who also mentioned a young roster and a lack of trust in the locker room. “That’s a big part of being a winner. You’ve got to deal with tough times. They’re going to happen. We had a lot of that last year.”

But Taggart is optimistic FSU will handle the adversity (and everything else) better, starting with the Seminoles’ Aug. 31 opener against Boise State in Jacksonville.

Some excerpts from Taggart’s question-and-answer sessions with reporters and fans:

On the state of FSU: “It’s going well. We’re undefeated. I think we’ve got the offseason ahead of us. Our players have been working really hard. Our team’s been coming together the way we want it to. Really excited about this summer.”

On what gives him confidence his team will improve from 5-7: “We don’t talk about last year. I just don’t think it’s fair to gauge this team on last year’s team. It’s a totally different team. These guys have been working. They understand and are really helping build a culture that has won here. Going to Year 2, we always talk about you’re getting better, or you’re getting worse. You don’t stay the same. I think we’re getting better in every aspect.”

On Wisconsin grad transfer quarterback Alex Hornibrook: “A guy that’s won at the highest level. Really good to have Alex here competing. We’re excited to have him.”

On whether he’s concerned that the NCAA hasn’t yet granted Louisville transfer quarterback Jordan Travis immediate eligibility: “I’m focused on the things we can control. We’ve been doing that from the time we got here. We’ll get the answer. We’ll continue to move forward.”

On what he still carries with him from his time at Manatee High: “I think that’s when I first learned how to win. Won at Manatee High, playing under Joe Kinnan, really understanding what winning that consistently and playing at a high level and competing at a high level, there at Manatee High School…When we were there, you had to compete with the best if you want to play.”

FROM LAST YEAR’S BOOSTER TOUR: FSU football coach Willie Taggart gets local hero’s welcome

On recruiting coordinator David Kelly, who no longer has an on-field position group to coach but still counts as one of FSU’s 10 assistants: “It’s a role that he’s been in for a while. It’s just now he doesn’t have the football part of it to where he can really dive into the recruiting and help our football team out. He’s done a great job in organizing and putting a plan together for our coaches to go out and execute. (He’s) building a relationship with the kids that we need to, doing a great job of making sure we’re getting the kind of guy that we want at Florida State and holding guys accountable to doing that.”

Contact Matt Baker at Follow @MBakerTBTimes.


  1. Clemson's Isaiah Simmons tackles Florida State quarterback Alex Hornibrook, causing a fumble during the first half of Saturday's game in Clemson, S.C. RICHARD SHIRO  |  AP
    The Tigers beat the Seminoles for the fifth straight year, this time in a 45-14 romp.
  2. Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher walks the sideline against Arkansas on Sept. 28 in Arlington, Texas. Texas A&M won 31-27. RON JENKINS  |  AP
    Plus more national nuggets, including a bright spot for Lovie Smith’s Illini.
  3. Florida Gators defensive back CJ Henderson (1) wags his finger after breaking up a pass intended for Miami Hurricanes wide receiver Jeff Thomas during the season opener. MONICA HERNDON  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Matt Baker: A running back duel at Clemson and why Jordan Cronkrite could be in for another big day for USF. Plus, Tampa Bay Times staff picks for week 7.
  4. There's nothing quite like playing at LSU's Tiger Stadium at night. JONATHAN BACHMAN  |  AP
    How does Clemson’s Death Valley compare to the one at LSU?
  5. Virginia running back Deshawn McClease (33) scores the winning touchdown during the second half against Miami on Saturday in Miami Gardens. LYNNE SLADKY  |  AP
    The Hurricanes, who trailed by 28 at one point, score three touchdowns in less then four minutes to tie.
  6. Florida State Seminoles coach Willie Taggart hugs wide receiver Keyshawn Helton as they celebrate after a beating N.C. State on Saturday. MARK WALLHEISER  |  AP
    “If they can profit from their likeness, I think that’s fair," FSU football coach Willie Taggart said last week.
  7. Florida State head coach Willie Taggart and his players celebrate their 31-13 defeat of North Carolina State in an NCAA college football game in Tallahassee, Fla., Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser) MARK WALLHEISER  |  AP
    “We made another step in the right direction,” Willie Taggart said. There’s a long way to go still, but they’re getting somewhere.
  8. N.C. State quarterback Bailey Hockman (16) throws against Florida State in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Tallahassee. MARK WALLHEISER  |  AP
    The Seminoles’ offensive line recorded another new low Saturday.
  9. Florida State quarterback Alex Hornibrook (12) throws in the first half of an NCAA college football game against North Carolina State in Tallahassee, Fla., Saturday, Sept. 28. MARK WALLHEISER  |  AP
    The Wisconsin grad transfer threw for a career-high 312 yards in FSU’s 31-13 win over North Carolina State.
  10. Florida State running back Cam Akers (3) heads toward the goal line in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Louisville on Sept. 21, 2019. MARK WALLHEISER  |  AP
    Also to watch during this weekend’s state college football matchups: a key player if USF hopes to slow down SMU’s offense. Plus: Tampa Bay Times week 5 picks.