The talk leading up to this game was whether or not sophomore quarterback James Blackman would get the start in place of the injured Deondre Francois.
As expected, Blackman got the start for Florida State, but ultimately couldn’t lead the ’Noles to victory in a hard-fought 47-28 loss to NC State in Raleigh.
Florida State’s defense, which gave up 59 points to Clemson last week, got off to another slow start when the Wolfpack jumped out to a 17-0 lead early in the game. NC State benefited from great field position in the first quarter thanks to a Jacques Patrick fumble and poor FSU special teams (per usual).
It was at this time when sophomore receiver Tamorrion Terry began to emerge.
Blackman connected with Terry on a 35-yard touchdown pass to cut into NC State’s lead, but ultimately couldn’t keep up with Ryan Finley and a Wolfpack offense that would increase the lead to 27-7.
With FSU’s run game struggling, Blackman put the team on his back on Florida State’s last drive of the half, culminating with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Cam Akers.
Despite coming out of halftime with the ball, FSU once again failed to capitalize, and a pair of three-and-outs allowed NC State to further increase the lead to 37-14. NC State scored on nine of its first 10 possessions, something FSU could never keep up with.
From there, the Wolfpack capitalized on a pair of defensive pass interference calls against Florida State, and Finley threw a pair of short touchdown passes that ultimately put the game out of reach.
But while Blackman and the FSU offense could not keep up with NC State in the game, the sophomore quarterback looked impressive in his first real action of the 2018 season. He finished 29-46 for 421 yards and 4 touchdowns, with a lone interception coming early in the game. With Francois sitting due to injury, Blackman looked more than capable of leading Florida State for the remainder of the season.
With senior receiver Nyqwan Murray sitting the first half after punching a Clemson player last week, Terry was Blackman’s favorite target down the field. The sophomore finished with 5 catches, 142 yards and 2 touchdowns. Sophomore slot WR DJ Matthews also had his best offensive game in Garnet and Gold with 10 receptions for 142 yards and a score.
Florida State’s defense once again struggled, in part thanks to some bad field position given to them by the Seminoles’ offense. NC State racked up 422 yards at 5.55 yards per play in the game, but it was all too easy for Finley to drive the Wolfpack down the field with ease.
Part of the problem was that Florida State was on the victim of 15 penalties in the game, totaling 116 yards given up. Defensive pass interference seemed to come up more often than not, with Asante Samuel Jr. and Stanford Samuels both flagged on key plays in the game that gave NC State easy scoring opportunities.
The field position battle also determined a large portion of this game (once again). FSU’s average starting field position was its own 23-yard line, while NC State started at its 42-yard line.
This loss drops Florida State to 4-5 on the season with games against Notre Dame, Boston College, and Florida remaining on the schedule. The likelihood of making a bowl game decreases with this loss, especially when this was seen as a winnable game. If the ’Noles truly want to extend their bowl streak and not go with a youth movement to prepare for the future, they need to find some answers and fast.