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How have Fisher’s quarterbacks performed in their first start?

And what can we expect from James Blackman?

Alabama v Florida State Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

When Florida State lines up against NC State on Saturday, Jimbo Fisher will be starting his eighth different quarterback since arriving in Tallahassee in 2008.

With the injury to Deondre Francois, it will be true freshman James Blackman at the helm, tasked with leading the Seminoles to the ACC Championship and another playoff berth.

For a coach who has been at FSU for 10 seasons now, having only eight different starting quarterbacks, including Blackman, shows that this program has been fairly consistent and stable at that position. Florida State has benefited from hitting on multiple-year starters such as EJ Manuel and Jameis Winston, but have also received spot starts from guys like Clint Trickett and Sean Maguire as well.

The biggest question on everyone’s mind right now is, “How will Blackman perform in his first start?”

Luckily, a decade of data has given us a good idea as to how Blackman might perform when he lines up against the Wolfpack on Saturday.

First, let’s take a look at how Blackman compares to FSU’s other starting quarterbacks in terms of when they started their first game in the garnet and gold.

Year Player Age Year in Program
Year Player Age Year in Program
2008 Christian Ponder Redshirt Sophomore 3
2009 EJ Manuel Redshirt Freshman 2
2011 Clint Trickett Redshirt Freshman 2
2013 Jameis Winston Redshirt Freshman 2
2014 Sean Maguire Redshirt Sophomore 3
2015 Everett Golson Redshirt Senior 1
2016 Deondre Francois Redshirt Freshman 2
2017 James Blackman Freshman 1

Of those players, Blackman is the only player who will start during his true freshman year in the program. Although Everett Golson was technically in his first year at FSU, he benefited from multiple years of experience at Notre Dame.

Players like Winston and Deondre Francois, who would go on to have successful seasons as freshman starters, benefited immensely from a redshirt year. Not only to learn the playbook, but to also add muscle in the weight room and earn valuable reps on the scout team.

Here’s the stat lines that those seven quarterback performed in their first starts.

Player Comp Att Yards Y/A Comp % TD INT
Player Comp Att Yards Y/A Comp % TD INT
Christian Ponder 11 17 196 11.52941176 0.647058824 3 0
EJ Manuel 15 20 220 11 0.75 1 1
Clint Trickett 24 38 336 8.842105263 0.631578947 3 1
Jameis Winston 25 27 356 13.18518519 0.925925926 4 0
Sean Maguire 21 39 304 7.794871795 0.538461538 1 2
Everett Golson 19 25 302 12.08 0.76 4 0
Deondre Francois 33 52 419 8.057692308 0.634615385 2 0
James Blackman ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ?? ??

As you can see, Fisher’s quarterbacks have had a reasonable amount of success in their first career starts. Winston obviously set the bar fairly high with his 25/27 debut (should be 26 though, because Kenny Shaw totally was inbounds on one catch), but most names on the list had good outing in their first start.

Of course, these numbers mean nothing without context. Winston, perfect as he was that night, put up video game numbers against Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, Maguire faced off against a terrifying Clemson defense.

Player Yards Comp % TD INT Opponent Date S&P+ Rank Def S&P+ Rank
Player Yards Comp % TD INT Opponent Date S&P+ Rank Def S&P+ Rank
Christian Ponder 196 0.647058824 3 0 Western Carolina 9/6/08 N/A N/A
EJ Manuel 220 0.75 1 1 Wake Forest 11/14/09 56 65
Clint Trickett 336 0.631578947 3 1 Clemson 9/24/11 41 73
Jameis Winston 356 0.925925926 4 0 Pittsburgh 9/2/13 36 28
Sean Maguire 304 0.538461538 1 2 Clemson 9/20/14 13 1
Everett Golson 302 0.76 4 0 Texas State 9/5/15 117 127
Deondre Francois 419 0.634615385 2 0 Ole Miss 9/5/16 27 74
James Blackman ?? ?? ?? ?? NC State 9/23/17 27 35

Maguire faced a murderous test in his first career start against a Clemson defense that ranked No. 1 in the country per S&P+. Meanwhile, Winston’s performance against Pittsburgh came against the nation’s 28th ranked defense, still a respectable ranking.

Blackman’s first career start will come against an NC State defense ranked currently as the No. 35 unit in the country. The Wolfpack have a stout front seven, but also a secondary that has struggled through the beginning few weeks of the season. Expect Blackman to throw early and often as Jimbo eases him into the college game.

Based on these numbers, how do you think Blackman will perform on Saturday?