A week after Florida State was as effectively shut down on offense as possible, the Seminoles notched three big explosive plays en route to a 27-24 win over Syracuse.
James Blackman hit Noonie Murray for a 51-yard pass and Cam Akers busted off runs of 54 and 61 yards as FSU put up its second-highest point total of the season.
It was the first time since 1976, Bobby Bowden’s first season as head coach, that Florida State put up three plays of 50 yards or longer in a single game.
Our Bud Elliot went into a bit more detail on how the big plays helped in win on the latest episode of the Nolecast.
Akers eclipsed his previous single game-high of 121 yards, racking up 199 yards and two touchdowns. At one point the freshman was averaging 21 yards a carry, obviously due to the two explosive runs he registered early in the game.
His 199 yards was the second most by a freshman in school history, and the 14th most overall. After eight games, Akers has the third-highest rushing total by a freshman in school history, with his 695 yards trailing only Greg Allen’s 888 and Dalvin Cook’s 1008. ‘
James Blackman had a good day, but nothing particular to write home about. The true freshman went 12 of 19 for 136 yards and a touchdown, and avoided throwing an interception for the first time since FSU’s win over Wake Forest on Sep. 30.
He struggled a bit to get balls where they needed to be, throwing a few into the dirt as Syracuse’s rush bore down on him. He also missed a wide-open deep ball to Keith Gavin towards the end of the third that would’ve almost assuredly been a touchdown and that could’ve effectively put away the Orange for the rest of the game.
His throw to Murray, however, was perfectly placed, and showcased the big arm potential that Blackman possesses. Along with that, one of the more impressive plays that Blackman made on the day was a 28-yard completion to Ermon Lane in the middle of the fourth quarter.
It wasn’t a well-placed deep throw or difficult sideline pass, but in the face of pressure, Blackman tossed Lane an easily catchable ball that set up the wide receiver-turned-safety-turned-wide receiver perfectly up for a big gain. The play led to what would turn out to be a game-clinching Ricky Aguayo field goal.
“Blackman did a good job. Got to protect him a little better,” Jimbo Fisher said following the game. “Had some chances to make some plays. Misread some things. Had an opportunity to make a big touchdown throw. His toughness, competitiveness, ability to make the big throw on the first drive was impressive.”
“Cam ran the ball extremely well. Had a nice little screenplay on one. Finished runs, hit the home run. Did the home run the right way, not craziness, but with good, hard runs, then split it and ran. He had an outstanding day. Very proud of him.”
Amir Rasul again received four carries, equalling the total he got during the Boston College game. He only put up 11 yards on those runs, but Rasul showed off some speed and vision on a seven-yard carry in the second quarter.
Jimbo Fisher allowed his five-star freshman running back to shine on Saturday, and the result was FSU’s first 14-0 lead of the season. Moving forward, sticking to the run and putting Blackman in manageable situations should be the Seminoles’ go-to offensive formula, especially with Jacques Patrick set to potentially return as early as next week.