James Blackman

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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.

Defense the story of the half between Florida State and Miami

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The rivalry is alive and well in Tallahassee with Florida State looking to score an upset against No. 13 Miami this afternoon. Defenses have set the tone with a good helping of three-and-outs and punts so far this afternoon, and Florida State is holding on to a narrow 3-0 lead at the half.

After the teams exchanged punt son the first four offensive series of the game, Florida State strung together the first drive of the game with a 10-play series traveling 71 yards. Despite getting the football all the way to the Miami 14-yard line for a first down inside the red zone, the Seminoles were held to just four yards and were forced to settle for a 27-yard field goal from Ricky Aguayo for a 3-0 lead.

Florida State seemed to have another drive getting close to putting points on the board in the low-=scoring game, but a pass over the middle by James Blackman was picked off by Michael Jackson with a little more than a minute left in the first half. Fortunately for Florida State, their defense has been just as good at causing problems for Miami and nearly forced a three-and-out but a roughing the passer penalty on a third-down stop extended Miami’s possession.

The two teams have combined for two third-down conversions out of 15 third-down situations. Miami has just 57 yards of offense, while Florida State has accumulated 165 yards of total offense.

Florida State did lose running back Jacques Patrick in the first half to an injury for a brief moment. He returned to the game after initially being evaluated by trainers. Patrick has rushed for 84 yards and is averaging 10.5 yards per rushing attempt.

N.C. State hangs on to upset sluggish No. 12 Florida State

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A year after failing to pull the upset on the road against Clemson, N.C. State (3-1, 1-0 ACC) managed to take advantage o a Florida State team coming off an unusual layoff. The Wolfpack took a 10-0 lead on No. 12 Florida State (0-2, 0-1 ACC) in Tallahassee and managed to hold on for a 27-21 victory.

It was expected Florida State would start the game somewhat slowly, and they did. Starting a true freshman at quarterback and not having played a game since the opening week of the season against Alabama due to having to alter the schedule from Hurricane Irma’s path through the state of Florida meant the Seminoles might not be all on the same page early on. This was the case, although N.C. State brought the kind of gameplan and talent to take advantage of the situation, and credit them for doing just that.

Ryan Finley passed for 230 yards and two touchdowns to help lead the Wolfpack to the win, but the defense did its part too by allowing just four third-down conversions by Florida State out of 14 attempts. The lone turnover of the game was coughed up by Florida State as well, although N.C. State was not able to score any points off the turnover, but the fumble came at a costly time for Florida State as it appeared the momentum could be on their side with a drive down the field in a 10-7 game.

Making his first start for the Seminoles in place of the injured Deondre Francois, James Blackman was under pressure for much of the afternoon. N.C. State had a clear gameplan to get in Blackman’s face, and there were moments when Blackman reacted to it well and managed to drop some beautiful deep passes to his receivers. Blackman ended his first career start going 22-of-38 for 278 yards with a touchdown and one lost fumble. Auden Tate was the top receiver for Florida State with 138 yards and a touchdown.

Down 27-16 in the fourth quarter, Florida State did have their chances to grab the game in their home opener, but a turnover on downs after recording a safety and being held to a field goal after taking the football at the NC State 23-yard line following a blocked punt prevented the Seminoles form avoiding their first loss in a home opener for the first time under head coach Jimbo Fisher.

Florida State now has two losses and still has games to play against Clemson and Louisville. The preseason favorite in the ACC and for a spot in the College Football Playoff is now looking to make history if there is a chance to do so. No College Football Playoff team has had two losses. Making the playoff is obviously quite an uphill battle at this point. That uphill climb will begin next week on the road against Wake Forest.

For N.C. State, the painful stain of a bewildering loss in the opener is a distant memory and now the Wolfpack hope to build off this major win next week at home against Syracuse.