In a blowout loss to Clemson, starting QB Deondre Francois was injured late and subsequently unable to practice fully this week. With Francois out, the ‘Noles would make a switch behind center and sophomore James Blackman would get his shot at quarterback. Coincidentally, Blackman’s first start as a freshman came against NC State last year when Deondre Francois went down with a season ending knee injury against Alabama in the season opener.
FSU is averaging 7.7 yards per plays while giving up 5.7 yards a play to NC State. FSU’s running game has struggled to get going with just 24 yards on the ground, although Cam Akers did look sharp early. A major factor in FSU’s struggles is field position. The Seminoles have an average starting field position of their own 19-yard line while the Wolfpack is starting at their 42-yard line.
Florida State’s first defensive series of the game left much to be desired. Linebacker Dontavious Jackson was held out and a normally effective rushing defense was gashed by multiple runs including a touchdown as NC state took an early lead. Jackson was dinged up following the Clemson game, but said he would be good to go earlier in the week and would entered the game on the next series. It’s unclear why he was held out to start the game because Jackson didn’t appear to be a player that “quit” against Clemson.
Special teams continued to be abysmal as a holding call on the kick return left James Blackman to start his first drive at the Florida State three yard line.
Despite the poor starting position, Blackman looked sharp as FSU drove to midfield before a Jacques Patrick fumble on third down was recovered by NC State.
The Seminole defense was better the second time out defending a shortened field and forced an NC State three-and-out with great coverage on third down.
This time starting at his own nine yard line (better than the three), Blackman showed that while FSU can change the quarterback, they can’t change the line in front of him. Blackman was hammered on first down and narrowly avoided the safety. That play was followed up by a false start on Derrick Kelly and a Cole Minshew injury and the Seminoles would punt.
The defense continued to struggle against the run and NC State would drive down the field. A horrendous pass interference call on Asante Samuel Jr. set the Wolfpack up in scoring position, but a stand from the defense held them to just a field goal and FSU went down 10-0.
Another three-and-out for the FSU offense gave NC State the ball back and they would capitalize with an 11-play 75-yard touchdown drive, extending their lead to 17-0.
Florida State got a much-needed boost at the hands of James Blackman and Tamorrion Terry. Blackman hit Terry on back-to-back deep balls, capping a four play, 75-yard drive and Terry’s sixth touchdown of the year.
The defense came up with a second stand in the red zone after Wolfpack quarterback Ryan Finley picked on FSU corner A.J. Westbrook throughout the drive. NC State would settle for a field goal, going up 20-7.
Whatever good the offense generated on the previous drive was erased when James Blackman threw his first interception of the season and set NC state up on the Florida State 32-yard line.
This time N.C. State would capitalize. In a drive that saw them convert a fourth down. The Wolfpack would run in for another score taking a 27-7 lead.
The offense responded with an eight play 75-yard drive and a Cam Akers touchdown. Blackman looked sharp on the drive and kept plays alive despite a ton of pressure and the ‘Noles headed into the half down 27-14.