Last week, we showed that James Blackman played well in FSU’s opening loss to Boise State.
The sophomore quarterback looked sharp and poised, but more importantly Florida State was willing to air the ball out to its talented receivers. Against Boise State, Blackman completed seven of 14 passes on throws 10+ yards down the field.
This week was a much different story.
Despite playing a seemingly inferior opponent in Louisiana-Monroe, FSU did not take many shots down the field to its receivers. For the most part, the passing game was quite conservative.
While it helps to have a workhorse back like Cam Akers to hand the ball off to, it is strange that Florida State only attempted four passes of 15+ yards downfield. Receivers like Tamorrion Terry, Warren Thompson and Keyshawn Helton thrive in one-on-one situations where their speed is an advantage, but we saw none of that against Louisiana-Monroe.
For the most part, Blackman remains accurate on short throws. By my count, he is 19-20 on throws behind the line of scrimmage on the season. These simple screen passes are great, even if they gain minimal yardage, because it keeps the defense on their heels.
Blackman’s two interceptions came under different circumstances.
One was a miscommunication between Blackman and Terry. Terry runs a stop-and-go route, but Blackman threw the stop route. The defensive back read this and easily intercepted the pass for a pick six.
The second came on a short pass at the line of scrimmage. Blackman tried to force the ball to Ontaria Wilson (or D.J. Matthews, they were both in the area) and the defender was able to get the interception.
Apart from those two turnovers, you’d be hard pressed to find many other bad decisions from Blackman. He’s been relatively safe with the ball and does not throw into coverage often.
If there’s one area that needs improvement, it’s deep ball accuracy. A few of the deep pass incompletions in this game were the result of mistimed throws. As the season progresses, hopefully these are fixed with more chemistry between the quarterback and receiver.
It is not surprising to see that Terry is Blackman’s favorite target. The sophomore receiver was targeted nine times in the game.
A surprising note is that the tight ends continue to be forgotten in this offense. Tre’ McKitty was targeted twice in this game (two completions) and Camren McDonald was targeted once.
The middle of the field is open quite often in Kendal Briles’ offense. Matthews and Tre’shuan Harrison were able to find success in this area in this game. It is strange that Florida State has not been able to exploit the middle of the field with the tight ends more often.
It wasn’t a perfect performance from Blackman, but it got the job done. Next week against Virginia should show us a lot more about his capabilities, especially if the game turns into a shootout.