By itself, the Florida State spring game doesn’t particularly matter.
The score is irrelevant and the statistics compiled within the game don’t tell us nearly as much about the caliber of team or caliber of players we’re watching as we’d like to think.
Instead, they’re largely empty and devoid of meaning.
However, in instances such as Saturday in Tallahassee, distance can provide some perspective. The larger picture does indicate a few things about the beginning of the Willie Taggart era at Florida State.
For starters, a record crowd of more than 60,000 fans poured through the doors of Doak Campbell Stadium. It was more than expected, and stadium employees had trouble getting people into the building as a line wrapped the stadium well past the start of the game.
In general, that doesn’t mean much of anything. However, for a fan base that largely was disillusioned as the program struggled with Jimbo Fisher’s decision to leave for Texas A&M, it does show a level of excitement around Taggart.
The new coach has promised to deliver a fast, exciting product and we also got a glimpse of that on Saturday. The Seminoles still are a long way from where they hope to be in terms of execution when they play on Labor Day against Virginia Tech, but the framework is in place.
As Taggart adds more of his own players from his first batch of recruits later this summer, the offense should continue to be built more comfortably in his image. Within a couple years, you’ll probably look back on the tape from this spring as an absolute mess by comparison.
Yet, as a starting point, it’s something Florida State fans should be happy about.
But the single most important element to what went down on Saturday was how Taggart and his coaching staff were able to capitalize on the energy. The big crowd and the I Love The 90s Tour concert after the game created an atmosphere that was infectious and manifested results on the recruiting trail.
Florida State added three 4-star commitments in the Class of 2019, lifting them to No. 2 in the 247Sports composite ranks. The Seminoles scored commitments from linebacker Jaleel McRae and guard Dontae Lucas from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., an integral recruiting pipeline if you’re going to have any success in Florida.
They also received a verbal from Maurice Goolsby, a 6-foot-5 wide receiver from Dunnellon, Fla., who looks physically as if he already belongs on the field. For good measure, they got a head start on the Class of 2020 with a commitment from Keyshawn Greene, a linebacker at Wakulla (Fla.) High School.
With more than 50 top prospects in the stands and Florida State legends such as Bobby Bowden, Deion Sanders, Dalvin Cook and Derrick Brooks — among others — on the sideline, Taggart did what he’s always done best. He bridged the gap between old and new, earning his living in the sweet spot.
So while the spring game itself might be meaningless, Taggart’s ability to use it as a platform for something more is not.