In his third career start against Miami, James Blackman finally tossed his first interceptions.
The interceptions were fairly easy passes for the defense to pick off, the first being an under thrown ball to Tate and the second a forced throw into double coverage. To be fair, Jimbo Fisher clarified that Tate made an unusually poor route adjustment on the first, so we can classify it as a miscommunication.
But to his credit, Blackman was able to overcome the pair of turnovers to lead the Seminoles on crucial scoring drives in the second half. His touchdown passes to Ryan Izzo and Auden Tate put Florida State in a position to win the game.
After two weeks of absence, Izzo made a reemergence. He was targeted five times in this game, making four catches. His touchdown catch over the middle was a perfect pass from Blackman and a great route by the junior tight end.
Let’s take a look at Blackman’s passing chart and see what we can figure out.
Jimbo Fisher has been fairly insistent on using the screen game with Blackman and it was no different in this game. The freshman quarterback threw nine passes behind the line of scrimmage (including a tenth that was technically classified as a lateral) for a good amount of success.
Jacques Patrick was the primary target on these passes and the junior running back made three catches on them. He continues to be a great threat out of the backfield.
Speaking of Patrick, he was the only running back to receive targets in this game. It was somewhat surprising to see neither Cam Akers nor Amir Rasul get involved in the passing game.
After not targeting the middle of the field in his first few starts, Blackman was much more active in that area against Miami. The first interception he threw was over the middle on a miscommunication, but he rebounded to throw a strike to Izzo in the end zone.
Blackman hits Izzo over the middle for a touchdown. pic.twitter.com/lIRCkLNfe1— Dakota Moyer (@DakMoyer) October 9, 2017
Blackman seems to be spreading the ball around quite a bit as well. Izzo, Tate, Patrick, and Keith Gavin all received five targets, with Nyqwan Murray receiving four and two for George Campbell.
Granted, some of this is because Tate, by far and away the best receiver on the team, is limited with a shoulder injury. If healthy, he might be receiving a majority of the targets.
Unlike in previous games, Florida State didn’t utilize the left side of the field much. Only six passes were thrown in that direction, as compared to the 15 to the middle and right side combined. Blackman also continues to be near perfect from behind the line of scrimmage, his only two incompletions coming on a tipped pass and a dropped pass by Murray.
Blackman’s ability to read and utilize the middle of the field will continue to be a theme of FSU’s offense going forward. We know that he is comfortable throwing to the outside and defenses will attempt to shut down these areas. If the true freshman can work the middle of the field, especially when defenses bring safeties up in the box, it will make Florida State’s offense that more dangerous.
With a road test against Duke next week, it will be interesting to see how Blackman performs after tossing his first two interceptions. He has not thrown a lot of “interceptable” passes during his three starts, but perhaps he will be willing to take some shots down the field if Tate is healthy. Gavin’s status remains in doubt, so Blackman’s connection with Campbell will be tested in this matchup.