Florida State coach Willie Taggart is turning to a familiar face to help his team’s defense, which has been a sticking point in FSU’s 1-1 start to the 2019 season. After giving up a combined 80 points through two games, Taggart is turning to his former defensive coordinator at Oregon, Jim Leavitt, who will reportedly join the team as a defensive analyst, according to Bruce Feldman of The Athletic.
Taggart tabbed Leavitt as his defensive coordinator only a week after he was named the Oregon coach in 2016. Leavitt coached the Ducks defense in 2017 to top-50 marks in yards allowed per game, passing yards allowed per game and takeaways per game. When Taggart left Oregon for FSU in 2018, Leavitt remained on staff with Oregon hiring Mario Cristobal. In February, he reached a financial settlement with Oregon that freed him from his contract.
Leavitt’s hiring gives FSU a new, veteran voice in the defensive room, and it comes at a time when Taggart appears ready to try something new. The Seminoles surrendered 44 points in a one-point overtime win vs. Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday; it was the second time in as many games this season that Florida State blew a double-digit lead. After the game, Taggart expressed his displeasure with the way the defense performed.
“I wasn’t happy with the way our defense played,” Taggart said. “I don’t think anyone was happy. I don’t think our defense was happy or anyone associated with Florida State football was happy with the way our defense played. We have to play better. We have to make sure we find ways to make sure we fix the problems and make sure we put our guys in the best position to make plays.”
Leavitt coached just one season under Taggart at Oregon before Taggart left in 2018 to succeed Jimbo Fisher, who left Florida State to coach Texas A&M.