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Tracking every pass that FSU QB James Blackman has thrown this season

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How has the true freshman performed through the air?

At Tomahawk Nation, we aim to bring you the most in-depth analysis of Florida State football on a year-to-year basis.

Along with our weekly film review, we’re also tracking every pass that starting quarterback James Blackman has thrown this season. Doing so will help provide a better understanding of FSU’s passing attack under the true freshman, as well as the chance to see how he evolves over the course of the season. We were initially going to start this project with Deondre Francois but were only able to grab one game’s worth of passes due to his season-ending injury.

With four games of Blackman as a passer (NC State, Wake Forest, Miami, and Duke) we have begun to construct this project. Let’s take a look and make some initial observations.

The uniform numbers of players targeted, as you normally see in the weekly breakdowns, are removed to make the graphic more presentable.

Dakota Moyer/Tomahawk Nation

To be honest, this looks like the passing chart from a true freshman.

Why? Lots of throws behind the line of scrimmage and very few in the middle of the field.

Throws behind the line of scrimmage are easy layups, basically extensions of the run game for the most part. Florida State has done a very nice job of scheming these throws for Blackman, and the true freshman has responded by missing very few of them (note the very few orange dots behind the line of scrimmage).

The middle of the field is perhaps the most difficult area to throw to because of the amount of bodies congested in a tight area. A true freshman would understandably have difficulty working in this area.

Passes to the sideline require a bit more timing between the quarterback and receiver, but the margin for error is not as high. Inaccurate passes to the sidelines often land out of bounds and limit the chances that the defender gets a hand on the ball. Florida State has used these types of passes to a certain degree of success, as seen by the chart above. Let’s aggregate those throws into distance and direction:

Dakota Moyer/Tomahawk Nation

As this graphic shows, 32 of Blackman’s 108 passes so far this season (29%) were thrown behind the line of scrimmage. Florida State has used the screen game immensely in Blackman’s first four starts, so expect this trend to continue.

Like we discussed above, the middle of the field is still a learning experience at this point, with only 12 throws to that area.

The deep passing game is still a work in progress, as Blackman has only completed five of 17 passes (29%) thrown 21-yards or more down the field. Intermediate passing is becoming a strength at this point, with 12 of 22 passes (54%) being completed from 11 to 20 yards at this time.

The good news is that the short passing game, or throws from 0 to 10 yards, is fairly successful, with Blackman having completed 24 of 37 throws (64%) in that range so far.

For a true freshman, this is very encouraging. Blackman is beginning to test the middle of the field more and is fairly accurate close to the line of scrimmage.

A lot of the deep passing game’s success depends on the health of FSU’s wide receivers. If Keith Gavin and George Campbell can return healthy, expect the offense to take more shots downfield.

We will continue to update this chart as the season progresses.