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Kelly: Seminoles haunted by past, must play for future

Published: Sep. 28, 2020 at 9:34 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Has Saturday’s game been hard to process for you? Because it sure has for me. But, thinking about it after the fact, the picture seems as though it’s becoming clear.

During Saturday’s game, I asked for your gif reactions on Twitter of how you felt about the game, and one, in particular, stood out.

It’s Bill Murray smashing his alarm clock in Groundhog Day after waking up once again to “I Got You Babe,” and realizing he’s stuck to live the same day.

But, beyond the typical complaints of how a certain position group looked or how the Seminoles handled a tough situation, there was another typical refrain all over social media: The blame game.

It’s become fairly typical around the Noles to point a finger in the past, but Saturday’s display was particularly big. So much so, in fact, that the names of former head coaches Jimbo Fisher and Willie Taggart actually trended statewide on Twitter.

But, the backward-looking attitude seems to be beyond just the fanbase, and that is where the real problem begins: The mental lapses, the continual visits from the ghosts of games past, they all suggest a mentality that’s tied to past failures and problems.

It’s a mentality that Head Coach Mike Norvell knows he has to change.

“You’re not going to beat any team when we don’t consistently put that into action and the things I was disappointed in, as anything else, was just some of the emotional responses that are not up to the standard of what it takes playing winning football and that’s something that we will get corrected and we’re going to continue to emphasize,” Norvell said.

“Composure is always key, so you always have to stay composed no matter what’s going on, no matter the situation," added linebacker Amari Gainer. "I like to stay even keel and motivate my teammates and you can’t be frustrated you have to go out there and think about making a play.”

But, how do you go about changing a mindset that now seems to have permeated a program once defined by never being too small for the moment? Logic would dictate a youth movement might be in order, with younger players unshackled by the past leading the charge for the future.

It’s a thought Norvell seems open to.

“The reality is, we haven’t won a lot of football games around here as of late and this is something that we need to do," he said. "We need to continue to have that competition, we’ve got to continue to help guys through the process whether they’re a freshman or a fifth-year senior of playing to the level we’re capable of.”

In the second half of Saturday’s game, we saw glimpses of what fresh blood can bring, particularly on offense, as Valdosta’s Tate Rodmaker and tailback Lawrance Toafili moved the ball. And, with an FCS opponent in Jacksonville State on the horizon, this could be the perfect opportunity to let the young, hungry players of Florida State point the program towards the future before the Groundhog Day of the present conforms them to the past.

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