Not only are the players new to this, so is FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher leaving him to say, “I’ve never had to do this. It’s new on me, too. Listen, all you can do is control what you can control. Practice well, prepare well, know what you’re going to do and go play.”
21 days is a long layoff for anyone, and in 21 days you know you can teach yourself how to play guitar. Or if that’s not your thing, how to juggle, either way both sound pretty cool to me. But these players didn’t come to Florida State to be the next Wyclef Jean, they came to play football, and 21 days without playing, I’m sure Derwin James and company are ready to release their inner savage.
They’ll get their chance to get back on the field against North Carolina State (2-1,0-0) who travels to Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday, September 23rd.
This game opens conference play for both teams, but this one will mean much more to the Seminoles. True freshman quarterback James Blackman replaces starting quarterback Deondre Francois who went down with a season ending knee injury late against Alabama in week one. This may very well turn to be a blessing in disguise for the ‘Noles. Blackman has had 21 days to study his playbook, 21 days to connect with his offensive weapons, 21 days to become a starting Division 1 quarterback.
Hopefully he’s a quick study because the defense of North Carolina State is full of talent and experience, especially up front.
Blackman will be helped mightily by the play of this stout Florida State defense. Led by safety Derwin James (six tackles), linebacker Matthew Thomas (10 tackles) and defensive end Josh Sweat (five tackles, one sack) the ‘Noles held Alabama to under 300 yards of total offense in the week 1 loss. The Wolfpack, led by Boise State transfer quarterback Ryan Finley, put up 490 yards of total offense last week, but that was against Furman; this is Florida State.
Not saying that N.C. State can’t move the ball, but don’t expect another performance like that from do it all senior halfback Jaylen Samuel (three rushing touchdowns and six receptions for 75 yards) and company. NC State is a very physical team on both sides of the ball, but Florida State still has a sour taste in their mouth and ready to take their frustration out on the Wolfpack. NC State running back Nyheim Hines (11 carries for 95 yards and one touchdown) will find running against this defense very difficult. Florida State linebacker Ro’Derrick Hoskins (nine tackles) will see to it that he has no room to run. The ‘Noles held ‘Bama to just 173 yards rushing, which is impressive considering how run dominant Alabama is offensively.
The loss of Francois hurts but Blackman is no stranger to competition. Blackman, a Belle Glade product has played and won against arguably the best high school competition in the nation in South Florida. Running backs Jacques Patrick and Cam Akers combined for only 47 yards on 16 carries against the Crimson Tide. One of these two will have a break out game as they will be looked upon to take some of the pressure off Blackman who’s first start is a conference game.