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Florida State Seminoles

What does FSU have to lose by trying QB James Blackman?

Florida Football Insiders

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Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

It was a humiliating Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium and a reminder of just how far Willie Taggart and his Seminoles have to go to get back to respectability. But when all was said and done and Clemson’s 59 – 10 destruction of the FSU ended, an important question remains: should Florida State contemplate playing James Blackman some more down the stretch of this season?

Blackman came in for “mop up” duty in the final quarter and did hit Keyshawn Helton with a 73 yard score in the final five minutes. You shouldn’t read much into that alone, but we’re about to layout much more compelling reasoning:

The current starting quarterback, red shirt Junior Deondre Francois, had a largely poor performance throughout the game Saturday. When he wasn’t mishandling snaps, he was fumbling exchanges with running backs. When he wasn’t overthrowing open receivers repeatedly, he was leading Florida State to a record tying 12 punts in one game as they fell behind 52 – 3 in the third quarter.

Francois did leave the game in the fourth quarter with an injury that coach Willie Taggart revealed was a possible concussion. That calls into to question another topic of why Francois was still in the game that late that lopsided, but it’s for another day.

Francois had a good, if not at times great, 2016 as Florida State won the Orange Bowl and he was the MVP. But then, after being injured for the season in the opening game last year with Alabama, he’s not been anywhere close to that kind of player in 2018.

Yes, he put up some decent stats against Wake Forest in the 38 – 10 win last week, but Francois had a couple of killer interceptions in the second half of the Miami meltdown three weeks ago, too.

While Francois threw the game-winning touchdown pass in the final minute against Louisville, he was bad in the losses to Syracuse in September and in the opener to Virginia Tech, also.

Bottom line, you can make the argument for trying something/someone else.

Two more things are apparent. One, Florida State is going nowhere this season and will be fortunate to make a bowl game with their remaining schedule.

And two, Blackman playing as a true freshman right away, showed potential in 2017, as the year went on leading the team and putting points on the board.

Further, after a day like Saturday where the Noles suffered their worst ever margin of defeat at Doak Campbell stadium in school history, you can’t do any worse.

Blackman, a sophomore out of Belle Glade, got 12 games worth of experience and in his last four games threw 10 touchdowns to just three interceptions and all four were victories. This included his Independence Bowl four scores in the win against Southern Miss.

Yes, the schedule is daunting for FSU, starting with the game at NC State next week and games with Notre Dame, Boston College and the Rival Gators to follow.

However it might do some good for Francois to go to the bench and watch. And, Blackman may be able to spark Florida State, where Francois clearly has not been able to in several losses this season.

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Florida State Seminoles

FSU visited by Dungy and Brooks in Bradenton

Abbey Radeka

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

FSU has spent the week practicing at IMG in Bradenton. On Wednesday, head coach Willie Taggart invited former NFL head coach Tony Dungy and Seminole legend Derrick Brooks spend some time with the team and offer a few words of wisdom after practice.

Taggart wanted the guys to give his payers some insight on what it takes to be a part of a turn around team.

The former Super Bowl winning head coach told the team team that, if they want to see success on the field, they’re going to have to come together to do it.

He ended with what it really means to be a champion, and having that championship mentality goes far beyond what you can do for your school on the field.

“Being a champion isn’t just being the best you can be on the field. Thats part of it. But it’s being the best teammate you can be, its being the best student you can be, person you can be and impact everyone. We didn’t bring you to Florida State just to win a national champion ship…Be the best person you can be for this university, for your family for your teammates, and you’ll leave a legacy here at Florida State.

You guys wanted to come to Florida State because of what these guys did. There are kids now who are going to want to come to Florida State because of what guys do. And that’s the power, that’s the fun, that’s what you’re going to really remember.”

Brooks then joined him for an extended Q&A session and told the group of guys, including his son, sophomore DeCalon Brooks, about what goes into a championship culture.

“It doesn’t take talent to have a championship culture, right? It takes effort. It takes awesome. No excuses, no explanations.” And mirroring the sentiment of Dungy he added, “that championship culture has to extend itself off the field…and we have the ingredients to be a championship-culture program.”

You can watch the full conversation here.

Coach Dungy has had a relationship with the Seminoles for a while, as Bobby Bowden was one of his role models when he began his career in coaching. And, in his time in Tampa with the Bucs, he coached two FSU greats in Brooks and Warrick Dunn.

Dungy and Brooks were foundational pieces of turning the Buccaneer program around and instilling a championship culture in Tampa Bay.

There’s no doubt that Tallahassee is ready for the return of a championship culture.

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Florida State Seminoles

FSU Starting QB plot thickens

Abbey Radeka

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Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Many FSU fans are heading into the football season cautiously optimistic that this year, at the very least, will be an improvement from the last. Others are still questioning if Willie Taggart’s second year will look any different from the first, and that’s largely due to the fact that the Noles are just under three weeks away from kickoff with no certain QB1.

With former FSU starter Deodre Francois long gone, the battle is mainly between former backup QB James Blackman and former Wisconsin QB Alex Hornibrook. From what we can tell so far, it seems as if FSU’s offensive staff has spent much of the offseason preparing Blackman for the job, but for the most part, it still seems up in the air.

On Monday, Taggart was asked by the media if there would any benefit to deciding who is going to be the starting quarterback sooner rather than later.

His answer was vauge, but encouraging.

“It all depends on the circumstances. I think you always like to have a guy that’s your guy but we’re going to keep it competitive. Both guys are doing a great job and it’s been fun to watch. They both go in and execute the offense and I’ve been impressed because not only do they execute the offense with the ones but they get in with the twos and do that same thing. That’s impressive to me. They both are having a really good camp and we’ll keep it going.”

“We’ll keep it going” is not exactly what Florida State fans want to hear as they eagerly await for an offensive leader they can begin rallying behind.

For now, all we have to go on is what’s been happening in practice.

Brendan Sonnone of Noles247 reported on the state of the competition from practice on Monday. Here’s what he had to say about each of the guys vying for the job.

Sonnone started with Blackman, saying that he’s continuing to stand out.

“Spent 10-15 minutes watching the quarterbacks throw on Sunday and James Blackman remained the most consistent of the bunch in that viewing time. Blackman, who appears to be having fun but also quickly getting in and out of reps, was on target on every throw he made on the day. He regularly put it across the facemasks of his receiver or on their hands. Easily catchable balls.”

As for Hornibrook, Sonnone said:

“He also knows where he is going with the ball and when to get rid of it. His main issue is that he sometimes leaves them a bit high.”

But, now officially in the mix is Louisville transfer, Jordan Travis. On Monday morning, it was announced that he has been officially been granted eligibility for the 2019 season.

According to Noles247, “He had one of the nicer balls of the viewing session when he connected on a vertical route with wide receiver Adarius Dent. Travis has looked to be moving around with a bit of a limp in recent days.”

The addition of Travis into the competition is likely going to make it harder for Taggart and OC Kendal Briles to select their starting guy, but on the positive side, it’s better to have too many options than not enough.

We just hope that the right decision can be made before the season kicks off, rather than during.

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