NoleGameday

Balance is key to Florida State’s offensive success

Logan Stanford/Icon Sportswire

Florida State will start its first true freshman at quarterback since 1985 on Saturday against North Carolina State. It’ll be important for the Seminoles to get some confidence under James Blackman’s belt early in the game against the Wolfpack.

Head coach Jimbo Fisher can make things easier on his new starting quarterback by being balanced offensively. FSU was unable to establish the running game during their 24-7 loss against Alabama. The `Noles mustered just 40 yards on 27 carries. This forced Fisher to rely on his aerial attack for much of the contest.

Deondre Francois would attempt 23 passing plays in the first half, including plays where he took sacks. The Seminoles would run 11 times for a mere 26 yards in the first 30 minutes of the game. The passing game had success but the Crimson Tide’s stout defense was suffocating against the run.

With Florida State already trailing, Fisher put the offense in the hands of Francois. Alabama’s halftime adjustments in the secondary flustered the redshirt sophomore quarterback into two interceptions.The breakdown on special teams only added to the onslaught. The Seminoles would run 16 passing plays in the second half to only nine rushes. Three of those rushes came after Francois went down with an injury.

In total, it was a flop on offense for Fisher and his staff. The `Noles ran a total of 39 passing plays to 20 run plays. That means that FSU attempted to pass the ball on 66.1% of their offensive snaps. The offense accumulated only 250 total yards, their worst performance since gaining 217 yards during a win over Boston College in 2015.

How can Florida State learn from their performance against Alabama? Fisher’s overall reliance on the pass against the Crimson Tide allowed their defense to focus on just one facet of the game. Nick Saban and Jeremy Pruitt upped the pressure that they were bringing in the second-half because they knew the `Noles would stop running the ball. This meant Francois took a lot more hits in the final half and a low-blow finally forced him out of the contest.

Fisher and his staff have to be a lot more balanced and less predictable. Blackman is 6’5” 170 lbs. When he debuted against Alabama after the injury to Francois, Blackman looked like a wide receiver taking snaps out of the shotgun. He is very skinny. We all know how many times Francois has taken some big hits over his one year as a starter. Blackman’s frame might not hold up against those.

Blackman is used to playing under pressure, which could be a good thing with how the offensive line fared in the second-half against the Tide. His high school offensive line was pretty porous and he routinely had to complete throws while being hit. Blackman is used to moving in the pocket and sensing pressure which should help his transition at the collegiate level.

FSU has to come out against North Carolina State and run the ball a lot more effectively than they did against Alabama. Fisher needs to have faith in his offensive linemen and elite running backs. Jacques Patrick and Cam Akers will likely lead the way again in the running back group. Fisher thinks Patrick’s experience could be big for Blackman’s growth while Akers was more productive in game one. Look for the talented true freshman to start taking snaps from Patrick if he can continue to outperform the veteran.

Throughout his history as a coach, Fisher has been an offensive genius. If there’s one person you expect adequate adjustments from, it’s him. We’ll see how the head coach deals with his first true freshman quarterback at Florida State starting on Saturday.

Dustin Lewis
Lead writer for NoleGameday. Majoring in English Editing, Writing, and Media at Florida State University. Writer for FSView Sports and Hashtag Basketball.

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