Transcript: Florida State at the 2019 ACC Kickoff

florida stateFlorida State coach Willie Taggart and players Tamorrion Terry and Marvin Wilson talk with reporters at the 2019 ACC Kickoff.

THE MODERATOR: Our first school with us today is Florida State.

We offer up Tamorrion Terry, our wide receiver. Questions, please.

Q. What can you say about Willie Taggart as a leader, what he’s taught you, what he’s brought to the environment at Florida State?
TAMORRION TERRY: He’s a great coach. He always been like a dad to me. Ever since he came here, he believed in me. Ever since he came to Florida State, he just believed in me. He always told me to stay focused, work on your craft, whatever you have going on on and off the field. Just be yourself. That’s what I am right now.

Q. Very un-Florida State-like season last year – no bowl for the first time in almost 40 years, struggled on offense at times. A lot of players returned. What’s going to be different this year? What are the keys to having an improved season?
TAMORRION TERRY: I can say just going out there, working hard, bringing back the program how it’s supposed to be, bringing back Florida State how it’s supposed to be.

We know what Florida State takes and whatever it takes to play at this level of the game, just going out there and playing the game, playing it well, doing your job.

Q. You have a graduate transfer coming in at quarterback from Wisconsin. Tell me from workouts what you’ve seen from him, what you like about him.
TAMORRION TERRY: A great player. He love to work. He always stays in the film room. He always want to study every play. He always want to come over to the crib. We watch film.

He’s a great player to be around. He fit this team. We welcome him.

Q. It says you averaged a touchdown every four and a half catches. What is it about the rhythm of the offense that gives you the confidence to catch that touchdown pass?
TAMORRION TERRY: I just believe in myself. My team believe in me. My fans, all the fans, believe in me. I just want to keep that confidence going, just keep going by myself, just leading the team, helping the team out.

Q. Before spring practice, something you said was that you don’t care about stats, you care about winning. How do you take the next step this year and affect the outcome of the game?
TAMORRION TERRY: Just going out there, playing with my brothers, having fun. Really just having fun, just going out there and playing with my brothers, just keeping the fans going, keeping everybody up, keeping my teammates up, just having a good time.

It ain’t nothing like having a good time out here at Florida State, having the fans lead you on, doing the chop and all that. That’s a great experience for me.

Q. Could you discuss what you worked on personally in terms of the off-season to improve and get better.
TAMORRION TERRY: Coming off the ball more faster, my footwork, high-pointing the ball, just little things like that. I’m always in the stadium doing drill work, always in the weight room lifting weights. Just keeping my body right and just keeping everything together. Just going out there, trying to work, have this season much better.

Q. Obviously the offensive line was an area of concern last year. How are you feeling about that unit? What have you seen from them so far?
TAMORRION TERRY: I can say they put in so much work this off-season. They came a long way. All they needed was a leader as that group. They showing everybody what they can do, how they just carry their selves. They’ve been working hard, they stay on the field, they always out there working, they always doing drills, everybody grinding, everybody buying into what we have going on.

I just feel like this is going to be a great season for us.

THE MODERATOR: Tamorrion, thank you very much.

We have Marvin Wilson, defensive tackle. Questions, please.

Q. What can you say about the defensive line this season. Obviously Brian Burns, what he brought to the table, moving forward? What did you learn from him, what can you say about your leadership with this year’s defensive line?
MARVIN WILSON: The best thing Brian Burns ever taught me how to do was how to work. Brian was one of the hardest-working dudes last year, not just from camp but from workouts, from the spring last year, leading up to the season, to help him go first round last year. He was a great mentor.

Him and DeMarcus Christmas, those were like the leaders I leaned on last year. They taught me the way, considered one of the older guys now in the line. Right now I’m teaching all the young guys more. It’s more than going out and practicing and stuff like that. It’s going in film, doing that extra work when nobody else is looking, listening to coaches, going to see everybody, who can help you evolve your game. That’s the biggest thing I’ve been trying to do.

Coach Odell (Haggins) has been a great mentor for me as well, being a leader, teaching me, this is how you do things, this is how you get the young guys involved, this is how you talk to them, just me being a sponge right now.

Q. Describe your leadership style, if you are a junior, if you have all these reps in game day action, if you are learning from coaches, what is your leadership style?
MARVIN WILSON: My leadership style is more outspoken, I also listen to my teammates. I’m not one of those guys that it’s my way or the highway. I’d rather say what I have to say, then whatever my teammates have to say after that, I listen to them. At the end of the day we a team, we have to make everything work.

That’s the biggest thing about this, I’m not a selfish guy, self-centered, I’m more caring. I care about what my teammates think. We got to work together, so I got to be able to talk to them.

Q. Last year you were pretty tough to run against. Not tough to throw against. What part does pressure play in improving your pass defense? What do you look for from Florida State defensively overall this year?
MARVIN WILSON: Florida State overall this year, in the pass, look for our DBs to get after it this year. A lot of people like to try our DBs, talking about they weren’t playing up to par last year. I think Stanford, Hamsah, a lot of guys that are returning, they took that very personal. They’ve been working their butts off this whole season. I couldn’t be more proud as a leader on this team that guys that I came in with, and some of the younger guys like Akeem Dent, a couple of other came in early, working their butts off to improve. This is really a DBU, and we are going to defend that this. Last year a lot of people tried us on that last year. That’s okay. I’ve been watching them work they butts off. I’ve been getting in the film room with Robert Cooper, Cory Durden, JaMarcus Chatman, some of the other guys on the defensive line. They like to give me a lot of the credit for being one of the leaders on the D-line, but we got a great D-line besides me. I got some great teammates that we’ve been getting in, working late nights indoor, trying to grind to get better. So all phases.

Then you have guys like Joshua Kaindoh, Janarius Robinson, D-Jack that plays that buck position and that are going to come out and show you really what they can do this year.

Q. Talk about what you personally tried to get better at during the off-season.
MARVIN WILSON: What I tried to get better on in the off-season was the little things. Overall aspect of my game, I did all the big check marks, checked off the size, everything. What I really trying to work on is my mental aspect of the game, learning how to read formations, learning how to look at what the back is, check out where the star receiver is, different things like that, how the alignment is going to slide to me. Breaking the game down from a big-time player’s perspective. So when I am out there on the field I can think and react a lot faster on the field than I used to.

Q. As the season went on last year, you came into your own. How tough was it to have that individual success but not have it result in team wins?
MARVIN WILSON: It wasn’t that tough at all. We have great teammates. My teammates, they never got jealous of me. If anything, they’re one of my biggest fans to this day. That’s what make us come in each and every day, work hard, grind together, so we could all have that success together this year.

THE MODERATOR: Marvin, thank you.

We’ll bring your head coach up, Willie Taggart. Questions, please.

Q. What can you say from your takeaways from last season with the team? I know taking this job was something very important to you, you were very excited about celebrating that moment. As you step into year two, what has gone from your head from year one?
WILLIE TAGGART: I think year two, myself, a lot more confident in our football team, our coaches, administration, everything. Year two, you know a lot more. You go through year one, this is learning, a learning experience throughout the whole thing. Now going into year two, you’re familiar with everything.

Our players are more comfortable with us, we’re more comfortable with our players. Things just seem to be much smoother. I think a lot of it is just everybody understanding what we’re trying to get out of it now, knowing we have to do the right things in order to correct what we did wrong.

Q. Your offense is called the Gulf Coast offense. When executed correctly, what is it designed to do? Secondly, what areas do you expect to see improvement in this year?
WILLIE TAGGART: Well, when executed correctly, it’s designed to score, score fast, create a lot of explosive plays. I think going into last year, it being the first year in a new offense for a lot of guys that didn’t come there to necessarily play spread offense, there’s a lot of learning lessons. There was a lot of learning lessons for a lot of people.

We had our mistakes. We made some big mistakes that you just can’t make. This off-season, I felt our coaches did a great job of teaching our players, making them understand what it takes to be successful on the offense.

I could tell you this: year two, guys are comfortable and understand exactly what we’re doing. I’m pretty sure you’re going to see a tremendous improvement in our offense in execution and the consistency when it comes to executing.

Q. You said everyone is kind of more comfortable in the system now. What are you looking for y’all’s identity to really be this season?
WILLIE TAGGART: I want us to be an aggressive football team offensively, defensively and special teams. See a football team that’s fast in every aspect and explosive on both sides of the ball. You do that by knowing what you’re doing and being comfortable with what you’re doing.

You do it by executing. I thought our players have done a great job this off-season of working amongst themselves to make sure they go out and execute at a high level.

Our identity is to be aggressive, to be explosive, and have fun and win.

Q. You have graduate transfer Alex Hornibrook coming in. Talk about how he factors in, fitting in a quarterback, a tough position, with just one year of eligibility.
WILLIE TAGGART: Well, Alex, I think one thing he brings to our football team is experience, not just experience playing football, but experience playing in big bowl games, too, games that he played in and won.

I mean, you can’t overlook that from an experience standpoint at that position. One thing I’ve been really impressed with Alex is he’s coming to our football program and it seems like he’s been there for years, just how he’s been relating to his teammates. It’s almost every day I see him with someone different, getting to know those guys.

Just to hear his teammates talk about him says a lot about the work he’s put in building those relationships, understanding that was something he needed to do coming here with one year left.

Been really impressed with the young man, how he’s working, and more importantly how he’s fit with his teammates.

Q. In which ways has recruiting improved since you’ve been on campus?
WILLIE TAGGART: Which ways has it improved? When you say “improved” from what?

Q. From aspects of you being a new coach at Florida State, now you’re two years in, you kind of have your feet down, start recruiting like you want to.
WILLIE TAGGART: I think it’s just recruiting the kind of individuals you want in your program. We’ve had two recruiting classes where we’ve been able to get some guys in. Having the whole year here, you really understand your team, the guys you have, the guys that you need to go and get in order to build a program the way you want to.

I think our coaches are doing a good job (interruption in transmission), getting him to understand what we’re doing in a simple way, getting them to execute at a high level, at a tempo that we want to run.

I thought it’s been great since he’s been here. He’s done a great job of bringing our offensive staff together and being on the same page, getting our players to understand what we’re trying to do. It’s been great this off-season watching him work with our offense and getting those guys on the same page.

Q. Offensive coordinator and quarterback’s coach, Kendal Briles, what you got from him in the spring, heading into the fall, his leadership, maybe his message and why he was the right fit for you?
WILLIE TAGGART: Well, again, when making that change and bringing someone in here, our players, it was new from the beginning, them going from a pro style to a spread offense. We didn’t want a dramatic change. I thought our guys had learned some things throughout the season, only going to get better at things.

To bring someone in here that understood what we’re trying to do, bring our football program, someone who has done it at a high level, it just made so much sense. This is a guy that went out and learned some ball when changing our offense at South Florida, and had an opportunity to hire him. I knew that a lot of things that I wanted with our program and how we teach our guys, he had a lot of it in himself.

It’s paid off so far. Looking forward to training camp, seeing the work that our kids have put in this off-season to see how much we’ve gained from the spring.

Q. Jordan Travis, the status of his eligibility waiver, what you thought of the process that went into that?
WILLIE TAGGART: I think the grad transfer, the waiver, whatever it is… First of all, Jordan, the process is still going. Again, you don’t know how it’s going to work out. It’s one of those deals, I mean, you see it around the country now, some get waivers, some don’t.

Going in, we’re going to go in the way we are. Jordan is part of our football team, a heck of a football player. It will be great to have him. If we don’t get him, it’s going to be great to have him continue to develop and be ready to go next year, and for us to continue to get ready for this season.

Q. How do you deal with last year’s record? Do you see it as motivation or totally put it behind you?
WILLIE TAGGART: We put that behind us a long time ago. Only time we talk about it is when we are asked about it. We put it behind us. It’s 2019. I don’t think it’s fair to our 2019 team to continue to talk about ’18’s team.

We put that behind us. We learned from our mistakes, the things that cost us to be the way that we were. We’ve been working on it diligently since then to make sure we correct those things and don’t do the same things that we’ve done before.

Again, ’18 is behind us. That’s part of our history. We’re going to keep it there, continue to focus on ’19.

Q. The change to a 3-4, what are you hoping that’s going to correct that didn’t work out for you last season? How did that implementation go?
WILLIE TAGGART: The change with who?

Q. To the 3-4 defense you’re seeming to implement. What are you hoping that’s going to correct?
WILLIE TAGGART: I don’t think we’re changing a lot from what we did last year. We worked on some things in the spring, seeing what was good for our team, how we can continue to get better, how we can continue to put our players in the best position to make plays.

I think going through the ACC this year, understanding our conference better, we’re just finding ways to put our players in the best position to be successful on the defensive side of the ball.

I think you’re still going to see our guys playing an even front, though. I think you’ll see Coach Barnett continue to find different ways to put pressure on the quarterback.

Q. There was an eye-popping 18 punts returned for touchdowns last year. Florida State had one. Seminoles have so much history in the punt-return game. Can you get more of your punt-return touchdowns this year, use special teams to help energize this coming season?
WILLIE TAGGART: We have to. We have to be much better. Overall as a team, but special teams in particular we should be better. We have the talent. We got to be to the point where our special teams gives us a touchdown advantage on our opponents. There’s no reason for us not to be that way.

We got to coach better, we got to play better and execute better while we’re out there. The answer to your question, of course, we should be.

Q. Could you just talk about what makes Tamorrion and Marvin such special and unique players.
WILLIE TAGGART: Well, both of them are great young men. They love the game of football. Whenever you put a football out there, blow a whistle, those guys are ready to compete and ready to dominate the person in front of them. I think that’s what sets them apart from everyone else, it’s that way every time they line up to play the game.

They both are very unselfish individuals. That plays a huge factor in their success, huge factor in their teammates playing the way they do for those guys. They’re tremendous athletes. They’re tremendous individuals. They love to play the game of football. When you have those things in order, it’s hard not to be successful.

Q. We celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing this Saturday. Do you have any interest going to space or the moon?
WILLIE TAGGART: No, I’m good in Tallahassee (laughter).


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