James Blackman

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New Choke at Doak: Boise State scores 23 unanswered points to top Florida State

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For one half, it looked as though Florida State (0-1) might be able to get their season started on a strong note, but the Boise State Broncos (1-0) added another power conference school to their list of defeated teams on Saturday. Boise State came back from a 31-13 deficit to top the Seminoles in Doak Campbell Stadium Saturday afternoon. Boise State’s 33-31 victory included a shutout by the defense in the second half.

Boise State freshman quarterback Hank Bachmeier showed how tough he can be by taking a good number of hits from the Florida State defense early on in the game. He never got too rattled though and ended the day with 407 passing yards and a touchdown. Perhaps the most significant pass was when he found a wide-open receiver down the right sideline on a third-and-long to keep a pivotal possession alive late in the fourth quarter. Bachmeier and Boise state maximized their use of the clock as well, thus draining the energy of the Florida State defense as the game played on. The Broncos held the football for nearly 40 minutes. Boise State rushed for 227 yards against the Noles too, with Robert Mahone racking up 142 of those yards with a pair of touchdowns. His short touchdown run from the one-yard line early in the fourth quarter gave Boise State its first lead of the day.

Florida State got off to a good start to the game with three first-quarter touchdowns as Boise State couldn’t finish drives or hold on to the football. James Blackman ended his day with 314 passing yards but that damage was largely done in the first half. Once Florida State jumped out to their big lead, Boise State calmed down and started to change the tempo of the game in their favor. Florida State had just one possession that lasted more than four plays after halftime, and that one six-play drive traveled just nine yards. On Florida State’s final possession of the game, a fourth-down conversion by Blackman was called back for a holding penalty. Florida State was called for another penalty on the very next play, which was declined by Boise State and resulted in a turnover on downs. The Broncos could then work the clock with Florida State had just two timeouts to use.

Florida State clearly is still a program in need of getting better, and perhaps that work is even more loaded than anticipated for Willie Taggart in Year 2. Boise State racked up 627 yards of offense, showing Florida State’s defense absolutely has room for improvement. The offense going flat after the first quarter is not an encouraging sign either for the Florida State faithful. Meanwhile, Boise State will take a road victory against an ACC team and run with it.

The game was played in Florida State’s stadium after being relocated from Jacksonville with a hurricane on the move into the region. Florida State’s first official home opener will be next week against Louisiana-Monroe. Boise State will also be home next week for a game against Marshall.

Boise State miscues and stalled drives dig hole at FSU, but Broncos have life at halftime

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Florida State and Boise State had to call an audible and move a previously-scheduled game in Jacksonville to Florida State’s Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, and perhaps the Noles are taking advantage of the true home-field advantage. Florida State leads the Broncos at halftime, 31-19. Florida State quarterback James Blackman has thrown for three touchdowns and 278 yards in the half.

Boise State fumbled on the opening drive to kill a somewhat promising opening possession, and that turnover did not take long to prove costly. A 20-yard fumble return by Janarius Robinson gave the Seminoles their first possession of the season on the Boise State 47-yard line. Four plays later, on a 4th and 1, Cam Akers ripped off a 38-yard touchdown run.  What could have been a huge defensive lift for the Broncos instead turned into an early hole off a turnover.

Boise State answered with a long 14-play drive ending with a 36-yard field goal by Eric Sachse, but Florida State had an even more efficient and rewarding answer. Blackman completed a 75-yard pass to Tamorrion Terry for a 75-yard score on the first play of the ensuing possession, and Florida State was suddenly up 14-3 midway through the first quarter. Another long drive by Boise State netted nothing more than another field goal by Sachse from the FSU 19-yard line, and once again Florida State answered with a touchdown. This time it was Blackman connecting with Gabe Nabers for a much shorter five-yard score for the 21-6 lead. Florida State added a field goal in the second quarter.

The Broncos did get back in the game a bit later in the second quarter. After Blackman lost the football on a sack, Derrick Mclendon Ii returned the fumble to the Florida State 40-yard line. Boise State took advantage of the first FSU turnover by ending the drive with a Robert Mahone touchdown run on the goal line.

The Mountain West Conference contenders certainly have their work cut out for them in the second half. If Florida State can hold on to this game and pick up a win, that would be a great way to start the year for Willie Taggart and his program after last season.

After a second straight recruiting class without signing a QB, FSU coach Willie Taggart says he has a plan

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Few positions in football are as important as the quarterback position. Because of that, going two full recruiting cycles without signing a quarterback to a scholarship will tend to raise some questions. Florida State missed out on one target at quarterback on Wednesday, but head coach Willie Taggart isn’t pressing any panic buttons just yet. He’s also not about to open up about what’s next for the Seminoles at the quarterback position.

“We have a plan, I think a pretty good plan,” Taggart said when addressing the media on Wednesday, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

What is that plan, exactly? We’ll have to keep guessing because Taggart isn’t saying.

“I don’t necessarily want to discuss it right now,” Taggart said, perhaps frustrating some wanting to hear the head coach of Florida State wanting to provide some comfort about the position moving forward.

Florida State likely had their plan at quarterback initially foiled when four-star dual-threat quarterback Lance Legendre announced his commitment to Maryland. Florida State had long been expected to be in the lead for his commitment, so losing a talented dual-threat option to Maryland was a tough blow on signing day. This was just days after Florida State dismissed Deondre Francois from the program and there was not a backup option lined up at quarterback in the Class of 2019 for signing day.

Taggart did say he didn’t want to discuss the plan now, and that could be because he cannot get into too many specifics. That could be because he cannot comment on players who are not signed by the school, so JUCO and transfer options are unable to be discussed publicly. So are other potential recruits still out there to be signed.

For the upcoming season, Florida State still has James Blackman to rely on running the offense. Depth is the primary concern right now, especially if Blackman happens to struggle or gets hurt. Florida State has some serious concern about the position in the immediate future, and two straight recruiting classes means Florida State has to go big on the recruiting trail for a quarterback in the Class of 2020. As of this moment, Florida State currently has a verbal commitment from three-star pro-style quarterback Jeff Sims of Jacksonville in the Class of 2020. Expect Taggart and his staff to continue to search for a quarterback for the next recruiting cycle.

CFT Previews: Walk-On’s Independence Bowl

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WHO: Florida State (6-6) vs. Southern Mississippi (8-4)
WHAT: The 42nd Walk-On’s Independence Bowl
WHEN: 1:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Independence Stadium, Shreveport, Louisiana
THE SKINNY: To say the 2017 season did not go according to plan for Florida State would be a massive understatement. Among the preseason favorites to reach the College Football Playoff, the Seminoles had to reschedule a game against Louisiana-Monroe just to reach the six-win minimum to become bowl eligible.

Now, Florida State is heading to the Independence Bowl after losing head coach Jimbo Fisher to Texas A&M prior to the last game of the season and taking on a Southern Mississippi team that may be more dangerous than expected. Florida State will also be playing the game without one of their best players because Derwin James has decided to pass on the bowl game to focus on preparing for the NFL Draft circuit.

Florida State’s season took a nasty wrong turn right out of the gates of the season when they lost to Alabama in the Atlanta in the most-hyped season opener in years. Not only did they lose, but starting quarterback Deondre Francois was lost for the season, meaning Florida State had to play the season with James Blackman. Blackman has had his ups and downs this season, as most freshmen would. But the experience could pay off in the long run, and extra practices to prepare for the bowl game could come in handy during a time of transition.

Florida State is still a heavy favorite against the Golden Eagles in this bowl matchup. If Southern Mississippi is to score a wild upset, quarterback Kwadra Griggs must avoid making mistakes against the Florida State defense. Griggs has thrown 15 touchdowns with just two interceptions all season. Running back Ito Smith has rushed for 150 yards or more in each of the last three games, but doing so against Florida State may be difficult.

Southern Mississippi has faced two power conference opponents this season. The Golden Eagles opened the season at home against Kentucky, losing 24-17. Later in the year, Southern Miss visited Tennessee and returned home with a 24-10 loss. Southern Miss may have the talent to do some damage against most of the teams on the schedule this season, but the evidence suggests they could be in for a struggle against Florida State, even though the Seminoles have had their own struggles this season.

THE PICK: Florida State 33, Southern Mississippi 17

No. 13 Miami scores first win over Florida State since 2009 with late heroics

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It was a long time coming, but No. 13 Miami (4-0, 2-0 ACC) finally has a win over Florida State (1-3, 1-2 ACC) for the first time since 2009. In a game that featured four lead changes in the final half of the fourth quarter, it was Miami with the last laugh with Darrell Langham hauling in a miraculous catch for a 23-yard touchdown pass from Malik Rosier to give the Hurricanes the 24-20 lead, and as it turned out, the win.

The touchdown would be reviewed by the replay officials to determine if Langham’s knee touched the ground prior to the ball crossing the goal line. Had the replay officials had the benefit of using goal-line cameras (it’s 2017, why is this not automatic at this point?), then there is a chance to ball would have been marked shy of the end zone. But because that angle was not available, it remains a guessing game as to how the replay would have played out. And if the ball had been marked short, Miami might have had one chance for the endzone before having to try for a game-tying field goal. As it turns out, the replay upheld the call on the field (officially, the call on the field was not confirmed, but ruled the play stands) and Miami prevented Florida State from returning the ensuing kickoff for a score in the final seconds.

After Miami took a 17-13 lead on a Braxton Berrios touchdown catch in the back of the endzone, James Blackman led the Florida State offense down the field without any fear. Blackman was five-for-five on the late fourth quarter possession, including a 20-yard pass to Auden Tate for the touchdown after it appeared Tate slipped by a couple of confused Miami defenders. The touchdown gave Florida State the 20-17 lead with just under 90 seconds to play in the game.

Miami opened the second half of the game by marching 62 yards on 12 plays to score a game-tying field goal by Michael Badgley. After picking off Florida State quarterback James Blackman on FSU’s first play of the ensuing possession, Miami threatened once again but Malik Rosier had a 2nd down pass from the 32-yard line picked off by Stanford Samuels III. Miami’s defense was locked in though and forced a quick three-and-out, and after a tremendous return by Braxton Berrios to the Florida State 21-yard line, Rosier made up for his earlier turnover with a quick strike to Berrios for the first touchdown of the game and the 10-3 lead.

Florida State tied the game in the fourth quarter with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Izzo and the Seminoles took a 13-10 lead on their next possession with a Ricky Aguayo field goal from 38 yards out. But Miami answered with a go-ahead touchdown on the ensuing possession as the teams got set to exchange the lead four times in the final minutes.

Miami remains undefeated now and is looking like a team that may have what it needs to finally reach the ACC Championship Game, but back-to-back games against Virginia Tech and Notre Dame in November will probably determine one way or the other if Miami should be thrown in the conversation for the College Football Playoff. Meanwhile, Florida State’s struggles are starting to really grow concerning.

This marked the first time Jimbo Fisher lost a game against Miami as the head coach of Florida State. Under Fisher, Florida State was 15-1 against FBS-level competition from the state of Florida before today, with the only other loss coming against Florida in 2012. This was Miami’s first win against Florida State since 2009, when Bobby Bowden was the head coach of the Seminoles.

Next up for Florida State is a road trip to Durham, North Carolina next week to play Duke. The Blue Devils have lost back-to-back games against Miami and Virginia and will be hoping not to fall in a deeper hole in the Coastal Division next week.  Miami will return home for a key Coastal Division showdown with Georgia Tech. The Yellow-Jackets are 2-0 in ACC play and will be coming off a bye week to prepare for the Hurricanes.