Florida State is playing its first game in three weeks on Saturday as the Seminoles take on North Carolina State at Doak Campbell. James Blackman will take over as starting quarterback for the injured Deondre Francios, and FSU fans across the country are excited to see their new quarterback in action.
The Wolfpack comes into Tallahassee sitting at 2-1, rebounding from their opening loss to South Carolina by beating Marshall and Furman. N.C State hasn’t beaten the ‘Noles since their massive upset over FSU in 2012, but have been known to always give Florida State trouble.
3 Things to Watch
- How will James Blackman Play?
Probably the biggest question on fan’s minds is how James Blackman will do at starting quarterback. The true freshman isn’t in the same position that Jameis Winston and Francios were when they became freshman starters. Both were redshirt freshman who had a full year in coach Jimbo Fisher’s system. Blackman was neither a redshirt nor was he an early enrollee. That means he’s only spent about two months learning the FSU offensive playbook. Reports from practice and interviews with players have given fans reasons to hope, with most raving about the talent Blackman has shown. Even safety Derwin James has been impressed, saying “James (Blackman) has looked great”. Blackman was highly rated coming out of high school, and the game on Saturday against a decent ACC team will be a big test for the young QB.
2. Who will get more reps at running back for FSU?
With Dalvin Cook gone and an unproven Jacques Patrick, James Blackman has no real safety net in the backfield. Patrick, a junior, wasn’t very impressive against Alabama, but then again, who really ever is? The Crimson Tide held him to only 17 yards on six carries, while backup true freshman Cam Akers went for 38 yards on 10 carries. While Patrick most likely does have the starting job, for now, Akers is hot on his tail, the top running back of the 2017 recruiting class made a solid case for more carries. It will be interesting to see what coach Fisher does here, as both Patrick and Akers are tremendous talents. They could be used like James Wilder Jr. and Devonta Freeman were used as a power back/speed back duo. While N.C State is no Alabama, but they do have a formidable defensive line, which will make it harder for the ‘Noles to run the ball.
3. How will the N.C State d-line play against FSU’s o-line?
The defensive line is led by All-American Bradley Chubb, a tremendous talent who had 10.5 sacks in 2016. The Wolfpack also have senior Kentavious Street, a man who boasts a 700-pound squat and had 5.5 sacks last season. Street and Chubb have combined for only 2.5 sacks so far this year. However, against an offensive line that has struggled mightily with pass blocking last year, they are very dangerous. The FSU offensive line looked much better than expected against Alabama. However, they still didn’t look great in run blocking or pass blocking. This game will be a great indication of how much the much-maligned offensive line has improved. They must protect Blackman at all costs, or N.C State could pull an upset.
Other Things to Watch: How will FSU’s special teams rebound from Alabama?
Will Ryan Finley be able to throw on the FSU defense?
Can the Wolfpack get the running game going?