Florida State

Context key when using Willie Taggart’s past performance to judge future success

Florida State spring game

Folks talk about Willie Taggart’s won-loss record completely out of context. The one blemish on Willie Taggart’s record is that he is he is a below .500 winning percentage coach now coaching at one of the most desirable spots in the nation.

He comes to FSU with hype surrounding his offensive scheme, but what does that actually look like? How has Taggart’s Gulf Coast Offense done when facing Power 5 defenses?

The best snapshot of what he’s been able to do is looking at his past three seasons.

Over that time span you see Taggart having USF running with his personnel while at Oregon you see what happens when he is able to take on a prominent Power 5 program. Also keep in mind how the programs he’s coached at were taken over and left.

Going back to Western Kentucky and USF, the Hilltoppers were 0-12 and the Bulls were 3-9 the season before he took over. The season after he left USF was a strong one for the Bulls under Charlie Strong, better than what he had at Texas. Oregon, months after Taggart’s departure, currently has one of the top QB prospects in the nation running a variation of his offense still, but was a four-win team when he took it over.

This is just more context.

Taggart’s Gulf Coast Offense against Power 5 schools in the past three seasons has been impressive.
2015 is the year that South Florida started its turnaround going 8-5. He had three games outside of conference against FSU, Maryland and Syracuse.

The offense didn’t perform spectacular against FSU and MD putting up 14 and 17 respectively. The game was tied against FSU going into halftime and the Bulls put up 275 yards of offense. They had chances, but missed, and FSU’s better athletes prevailed. The Maryland game featured similar circumstances. USF put up 300 yards of offense, primarily on the ground with 240 yards rushing.

This shows one of the aspects of the Taggart offense, the ability to run the ball and where you start to see the beauty of lethal simplicity. Against Syracuse, the Bulls recorded 540 yards of offense with a dominate running game behind Marlon Mack’s 20 carries for 184 yards and Quinton Flowers throwing for 259 yds and rushing for 55 more with three total touchdowns. The offense put up 45 points in a win.

In 2016, USF played three Power 5 schools, going 2-1 against them and 11-2 overall. The Bulls whipped Syracuse again to the tune of 45 points, 28 coming in the second quarter, with 400-plus yards of offense.
The FSU game was much more competitive even in a loss, with USF scoring 35 points against one of the better teams in the nation. The offense put up 450 yards, most of which came from the quarterback Flowers who didn’t get much done with his arm, but had 159 yards on the ground – part of 290 rushing yards as a team. Luckily for FSU, it had a young man Dalvin Cook.

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