How Much of a Sure Thing Is Willie Taggart's Success at Florida State? – Sports Illustrated
We’re trying something different this week. Actually, it’s something familiar. Something tried and true. For this week—and hopefully for every #DearAndy column from this point forward—we’re ditching the video answers in favor of an all-print edition. If you like or dislike it, hit me up on Twitter and let me know.
On to your questions…
From Tom: Wasn’t Willie Taggart about to get fired halfway through the 2015 season? Are we sure he’s that great?
He absolutely was about to get fired halfway through the 2015 season. But where you see that as a red flag, I see his solution to that issue as the reason he has a chance to succeed long-term at Florida State. Let’s travel back two years to a time when Justin Bieber wanted clarification regarding what precisely we meant…
After taking over a moribund USF program and going 2–10 his first season and 4–8 in his second, Taggart realized he didn’t have the kind of linemen (big and athletic; basically, NFL prospects) he needed to run the West Coast offense that longtime mentor Jim Harbaugh runs. The system had worked at Western Kentucky, but the run-game-in-a-phone-booth-to-set-up-the-play-action-pass model doesn’t work when you get whipped up front. So before the 2015 season, Taggart tweaked the offense. He put his quarterback in the shotgun and moved his receivers out wider. Not wide like Ohio State—which is kind of wide—but nuclear wide, like Baylor at the time. This forced defenses to declare whether they were going to bring their safeties up in run support or leave them deep to deal with downfield shots.
The scheme had a great name (the Gulf Coast Offense), but for the first few games that year, it did not work very well. This wasn’t because it was a bad offense but because the Bulls hadn’t