Dev­as­tated Semi­noles pledge to fix prob­lems af­ter de­feat

Orlando Sentinel (Sunday) - - SPORTS SUNDAY - By Chaunte’l Pow­ell Or­lando Sen­tinel By Kather­ine Wright Or­lando Sen­tinel Cor­re­spon­dent

TAL­LA­HAS­SEE — Florida State se­nior tail­back Jac­ques Patrick was vis­i­bly dis­traught, cry­ing while be­ing helped off the field fol­low­ing Satur­day’s loss to ri­val Florida.

This came mo­ments af­ter a brief skir­mish at mid­field when Florida State play­ers took ex­cep­tion to the Ga­tors’ flag be­ing planted in the mid­dle of Doak Camp­bell Sta­dium.

The game stirred a lot of emo­tions, most of them neg­a­tive for the Semi­noles.

FSU’s 41-14 loss to No. 11 UF not only snapped a fiveg­ame win streak against the Ga­tors and a 36-year bowl streak but also fea­tured fa­mil­iar mis­takes at a time when the Semi­noles sim­ply could not af­ford to make them.

“Dis­ap­point­ing game. Dis­ap­point­ing sea­son. I think ev­ery­body in that locker room is hurt­ing,” FSU coach Wil­lie Tag­gart said af­ter the loss. “And again, it’s un­ac­cept­able here at Florida State. I said it be­fore, we got a pro­gram that prides it­self on win­ning and we didn’t get it done.”

Quar­ter­back Deon­dre Fran­cois choked back tears as well as he spoke af­ter go­ing 14-of-29 pass­ing for 154 yards with one touch­down and two in­ter­cep­tions.

“Right now, it hurts. It cuts deep right now,” he said. “I went to a bowl game ev­ery year that I’ve been here. It hurts not to go to a bowl game. I don’t think I’ve ever not seen Florida State in a bowl game since I’ve been alive. To end the bowl streak and me be the start­ing quar­ter­back, it just hurts. It’s not a good feel­ing for me, my fam­ily, my team­mates, the fans. It’s just not a good feel­ing right now.”

En­ter­ing the game, FSU knew what was at stake.

The Semi­noles knew about the legacy of teams be­fore them. They knew they wanted to avoid be­ing the only FSU team in the modern era to miss a bowl game.

Ac­cord­ing to Tag­gart, that made the loss to UF that much harder to swal­low. “It was re­ally tough and a lot of tears and guys were hurt­ing,” he said. “We wanted to get it done and we didn’t. So it’s frus­trat­ing, dis­ap­point­ing, and again guys are hurt­ing.”

While their pride is hurt, Tag­gart said the team must lick its wounds and move on. He added the Semi­noles need fans to stick by them now more than ever.

“Tell them to have faith,” Tag­gart said when asked what he would tell FSU fans. “Again, that’s why I was brought here — to build this pro­gram back to where it be­longs, and I un­der­stand their dis­ap­point­ment.

“And I tell all our fans they should be dis­ap­pointed. This is Florida State Univer­sity, and I tell them all don’t ever lose our and what want.

“… So I apol­o­gize for the sea­son be­ing the way it is, but we’re go­ing to get there. And it’s not a panic sit­u­a­tion, it’s a work sit­u­a­tion. We’re go­ing to work to get there and we’re not go­ing to make any ex­cuses about it and we’re go­ing to go get it done.”

Fran­cois echoed these sen­ti­ments and said it has to be the last time the Semi­noles suf­fer a los­ing sea­son.

“[We have to] re­group. Take a look in the mir­ror, re­group, and just do what we have to do to not feel this way again,” he said.

For Tag­gart, it will be his first full off­sea­son as head coach, mean­ing he’ will be able to go out and re­cruit. He said the eval­u­a­tion process starts Satur­day night as he looks to make nec­es­sary cor­rec­tions and ad­just­ments.

“We’ve got to go to work,” he said. “There’s noth­ing we can do about any­thing that hap­pened now other than work and see to it that we don’t feel that way again. And we do that by chang­ing some things up. We can’t keep do­ing the same thing and think we’re go­ing to get dif­fer­ent results be­hind it. But again it goes back to me eval­u­at­ing our en­tire foot­ball team, our en­tire pro­gram and putting the right peo­ple in place to get it done.” ex­pec­ta­tion we

TAL­LA­HAS­SEE — When Florida State (5-7) lost this sea­son, too of­ten the Semi­noles lost big.

FSU’s 41-14 loss to No. 11 Florida (9-3) was the Ga­tors’ largest mar­gin of vic­tory in the se­ries since Nov. 28, 2009. The Semi­noles’ 28-27 loss to Mi­ami was the clos­est set­back of the sea­son, but the next clos­est was a 47-28 loss to NC State.

Six of FSU’s seven losses were by a mar­gin of at least 19 points.

FSU coach Wil­lie Tag­gart said he blames nei­ther the tal­ent nor phys­i­cal­ity of his team. Tag­gart points, in­stead, to the emo­tional tri­als of re­build­ing a pro­gram.

“A lot of it is men­tal,” Tag­gart said. “That’s part of chang­ing the cul­ture and get­ting to that point. I said it at the be­gin­ning of the year that the thing I was con­cerned about with our foot­ball team is how we deal with ad­ver­sity. I’ve seen that from afar that we didn’t han­dle that well. That’s a big part of our prob­lem is when things don’t go our way, then we didn’t re­spond the right way.”

FSU’s of­fen­sive pro­duc­tion was the glar­ing is­sue. With 12 min­utes re­main­ing be­fore half­time against UF, the Semi­noles had mus­tered only five pass­ing yards.

Semi­noles quar­ter­back Deon­dre Fran­cois fin­ished 14-of-29 pass­ing for 154 yards with one touch­down and two in­ter­cep­tions on Satur­day. Turnovers and penal­ties, one of which nul­li­fied a 70-yard touch­down pass to Cam Ak­ers, crushed FSU.

“The first in­ter­cep­tion: That’s where the game turned,” Fran­cois said while fight­ing back tears. “We were go­ing in to score, go­ing into our red zone and then I threw a pick be­cause we’re not de­tailed enough. We’re not on the same page, which we should be at this point in the sea­son. It’s just sad that it had to end this way.”

Se­nior Day: For the FSU se­nior class, the loss to Florida will sting for a while.

Se­niors Nyqwan Mur­ray, Jac­ques Patrick and Alec Eberle were a part of what re­mained from Florida State’s elite teams dur­ing for­mer coach Jimbo Fisher’s ten­ure. They are left to hope the team they leave be­hind will rally next sea­son.

“I told them I love them; I ap­pre­ci­ate them,” Tag­gart said of the se­niors. “They didn’t ask for this change but they bought into what we asked them to do and those guys, they fought all year to try to help us get the pro­gram back right. I ap­pre­ci­ate ev­ery sin­gle one of them for that be­cause I wasn’t the coach that brought them here, but they loved this place and they bought into it.

“I’m dis­ap­pointed we didn’t fin­ish it the way we wanted to for those guys.”

MARK WALL­HEISER/AP

Florida State coach Wil­lie Tag­gart talks with de­fen­sive backs Stan­ford Sa­muels III (8) and Asante Sa­muel Jr. (26) dur­ing the Semi­noles’ loss to the Ga­tors Satur­day.

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