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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