It’s not a stretch to say that James Blackman continues to get better with each passing week.
The true freshman threw 21 passes against Duke this weekend and only missed on three of them. One was an incompletion over the middle to fellow freshman D.J. Matthews and the other two were interceptions while targeting Nyqwan Murray.
The two interceptions are ugly, but they overshadow a fairly solid game by Blackman through the air. With the running game operating on all cylinders, Blackman finished 18/21 for 197 yards. That 85.7% completion percentage is easily the best of his young career.
Blackman wasn’t asked to do much in the passing game. As you’ll see below, most of his passes came on fairly simple throws to the backfield or within 10-yards of the line of scrimmage. No need to take deep shots down the field with Jacques Patrick and Cam Akers completely bowling over players on the ground.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect about this week’s passing chart is the fact that Blackman targeted nine different receivers. With Keith Gavin and George Campbell sitting out and Auden Tate still limited with a shoulder injury, Blackman spread the ball around to many different players. Jared Jackson, Jonathan Vickers, and D.J. Matthews each saw their first receptions of the season in this game.
Let’s take a look at Blackman’s passing chart and see what we can figure out.
As you can see from the chart above, many of Blackman’s throws were close to the line of scrimmage. Blackman is getting fairly consistent at hitting these easy layups and he was 6/6 on the day on throws behind the line of scrimmage.
The true freshman is also getting more comfortable working in the middle of the field. He hit Murray and Ryan Izzo for big gains over the middle and missed the aforementioned pass to Matthews in the same area. Blackman threw a beautiful 27-yard pass to Murray down the middle, but it was unfortunately called back due to a penalty.
The first interception was a miscommunication between Blackman and Murray. The receiver runs a deep in route, while Blackman is expecting him to cut to the outside. Based on coverage, Murray was correct.
The second looks like a bad decision to force the ball under pressure, but Jimbo Fisher said Blackman was trying to throw it away, was late and got hit.
These are freshman mistakes and Florida State has to live with them with Blackman at the helm.
Miscommunication on Blackman's first INT. Freshman mistakes, as expected. pic.twitter.com/NEstj74tkL— Dakota Moyer (@DakMoyer) October 17, 2017
It’s good to see that Blackman is trusting more receivers with Tate limited with an injury. The junior receiver only made three catches in this game, including the touchdown reception, but Blackman was more than willing to throw to guys like Murray (seven targets), Matthews (two targets), and Akers (two targets).
With only three incompletions on the day, most of this chart is going to be green. Blackman was perfect behind the line of scrimmage and nearly perfect within 10-yard as well.
As previously mentioned, we did not see the deep passing game at all, aside from the one deep shot nullified due to a penalty. Part of this was because Patrick and Akers were running very well. Perhaps another aspect to this was because Florida State was missing two big contributors in Gavin and Campbell, two players who have been able to stretch the field before.
Floirda State returns home to face Louisville next week, a team that just gave up 45 points to Boston College. If Patrick and Akers can continue to find success on the ground, it will open up a lot of opportunities in the passing game for Blackman.