The Daily Nole

Column: Blackman Isn’t Ready, But Don’t Blame Him athletics

Football is a team sport. By no means does 100 percent of blame for a loss fall on one player or even a couple of players. So when this sentence is uttered, know that it’s not meant to pin multiple problems on one player:

Freshman quarterback James Blackman was responsible for Florida State’s loss to Clemson.

The Seminoles’ defense played one of their best games of 2017. A late garbage time touchdown makes it look worse than it truly was, but for most of the game, Florida State prevented Clemson from doing anything meaningful on offense.

No Clemson running back got more than 100 yards, no receiver got more than 35. Quarterback Kelly Bryant was shut down the entire game. FSU recovered two fumbles at crucial moments and gave the offense more than enough chances to win the game.

But at the end of the day, Blackman missed wide open receivers and stunted drives in the worst way. It culminated in a late fourth quarter interception that came right after a crucial recovery inside Clemson territory with FSU trailing by just three.

Almost every other unit on the team played well enough to beat Clemson. Blackman was the exception in the 31-14 defeat.

That being said, he should have never been put in the position that he was.

When your team is 3-5, and you’re on the road against a top 5 squad with a fantastic defense, and you have a chance late in the game to take the lead/tie it, why are you trusting a true freshman quarterback to make the play?

Blackman was not meant to see the field for two years. He was expected to redshirt his first year and be a probable backup during his freshman season of 2018. 2019 was supposed to be the earliest time to unveil Blackman, if at all. Everyone knows what happened to that plan.

Throughout the whole season, he has shown time and time again that he’s simply not ready to lead the offense. He has had awful turnovers or near turnovers in almost every high-pressure situation and seemingly refuses to throw it to the safe option. Why is the first play call off a momentum-shifting turnover centering on him making the correct read?

Head coach Jimbo Fisher is struggling to adjust to this new challenge. Not many coaches would be able to, of course. Yet for Fisher, who has been hailed as an offensive guru and quarterback savant, the 2017 season seems to have thrown him for a loop.

At some point, the blame stops being on Blackman for making freshman mistakes. It’s on Fisher for constantly putting him in those situations. If he’s not careful, Blackman might never recover from the disaster that was his first year as a starter.

Delaware State, Florida, and Louisiana-Monroe are all that remain on the schedule. Two of those are home games, with the one away trip being to Gainesville for a face-off against the rival Gators. The non-Power 5 contests should not even be close. If the Seminoles are struggling to put away either the Hornets or the Warhawks, it speaks to just how deep the entitlement has been ingrained in the team.

The game against the Gators will be the last chance for Seminoles fans to have some modicum of pride. Neither team is anywhere near good at this point, but Florida State has a resounding talent advantage and a stable head coach. Florida would like nothing more than to ruin Florida State’s chances at a bowl game and make the Louisiana-Monroe rescheduling a moot point. More likely than not, Florida will come out with a fire in that game (assuming that it gets past UAB on Saturday, which is not a given).

That means that even more pressure is going to be on Blackman to perform well, especially if Florida plays like it has the past three years. Every Florida State quarterback since 2014 (Jameis Winston, Sean Maguire, Deondre Francois) has turned the ball over at least once against the Gators. Chances are Blackman will be on that list as well.

The bowl streak is in jeopardy and it’s going to take a 3-game win streak to save it. Will James Blackman be able to rally for the final three contests and finish out the season strong? At this point, there’s really no other option.

One Comment

  1. finance85

    November 15, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    Jimbo’s scheme is to blame. By scheme, I don’t mean the I or shotgun, I mean mixing too many formations, blocking assignments, and reads into a single game plan.

    Blackman plays best when the ball comes out of his hand early. That happens on set routes. The receivers don’t have to make a read (other than hot route), and Blackman doesn’t have to make a read.

    Jimbo also doesn’t use play action much after the initial series. Play action does lots of things. It get the QB in a rhythm with his feet, it forces the LB’s and DB’s to look into the backfield, it allows the backs to occupy a LB or two, it slows the rush, and so on.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply