Florida State football: How freshman QB James Blackman has grown and evolved this season

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The 2017 season represented somewhat of unchartered territory for coach Jimbo Fisher.

For the second time in his coaching career overall, and the first in more than 20 years and the first since he became a head coach, Fisher was forced to turn to a freshman to lead his offense after starting quarterback Deondre Francois was lost for the season with a patella tendon injury in the season-opening loss to Alabama.

James Blackman went from arriving in Tallahassee over the summer to being the most popular guy on campus by Labor Day.

And like the Seminoles 2017 season, Blackman’s individual play has mirrored that of a roller-coaster.

Yet through it all, the 6-foot-5, 169-pound freshman from Belle Glade, Fla., has remained calm and kept fighting through adversity. During the big win last weekend over Florida, Blackman delivered arguably his best performance of the season.

During his Monday media availability, Fisher remarked on how his young pupil has grown over the course of the season.

“You look at how he played the other day, at the time of the game he made it, it was another step for him to say no matter what goes on, he just keeps going. He’s just learning it, understanding it and trusting in what we are trying to teach him,” Fisher said.”

Against Florida, Blackman’s numbers weren’t eye-popping. He completed just 10 of 21 passes for 128 yards and 2 touchdowns with 1 interception. However, as the Pro Football Focus College Football Twitter account noted, he thrived when he had time to throw.

In particular, a couple of throws stood out for their accuracy and because of the moment in the game in which they occurred.

With the game tied at 7 early in the second quarter, Blackman fired a 21-yard strike to Nyqwan Murray for a touchdown on third-and-long that put the Seminoles up 14-7.

Then in the fourth quarter with FSU up 24-16, and one play after taking a sack, Blackman stood tall in the pocket and fired a perfectly thrown deep ball to a streaking Ermon Lane for a 39-yard pass that put the Seminoles in Florida’s red zone. They would score a few plays later on a Cam Akers 10-yard touchdown run and never relinquish control of the game from that point forward.

There were times in the season where Blackman looked lost and incapable of making those types of throws when the game was on the line.

Against Clemson earlier this month, Blackman threw a critical interception late in the fourth quarter after the FSU defense forced a turnover and gave the offense a chance to take the lead in Tigers territory.

Still, as Florida State prepares for its regular season finale against Louisiana-Monroe this Saturday, it’s clear that Blackman has earned the respect of Fisher and his teammates.

If the Seminoles earn a victory on Saturday, they will win their third straight game and perhaps more importantly, extend the school’s nation-leading streak of participating in a bowl to 36 consecutive years.

Blackman’s growth is a huge reason why the Seminoles have been able to rebound from a 2-5 start to recover and keep that streak alive.

“He’s done a great job,” Fisher said. “It’s not the physical part, but the mental part, his psychological disposition and how he handles playing the position which is the most demanding, he’s learning to grow with that and I’m very proud of him for that.”

The post Florida State football: How freshman QB James Blackman has grown and evolved this season appeared first on Diehards.

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