Florida State’s freshmen show potential in loss to Alabama

There have been a lot of questions floating around about what Florida State’s season will look like after a loss to No. 1 Alabama and the more significant loss of quarterback Deondre Francois. However, there are still high hopes around what this team can accomplish. Those expectations may just have to be altered slightly after a season ending injury to Francois. FSU definitely still has a chance to win out the rest of their games and even make it to the ACC Championship. It’s clear this team has an elite defense and the kind of playmakers offensively to generate points. Though it’ll be tough with the reins of the offense now in the hands of true freshman James Blackman.

Head coach Jimbo Fisher will need to bring his inexperienced offense along quickly if the `Noles are to be true contenders in the ACC and for the playoffs.There is no doubt about the tough schedule the team will have to face during the rest of September. Florida State will get home games with UL-Monroe, Miami, and North Carolina State before traveling to Wake Forest. UL-Monroe was essentially a tuneup game before Francois went down with an injury. Now, Blackman will make his first start despite only having been in Tallahassee for two months.

It’ll be important for the young signal-caller to get off to a good start as Florida State faces rival Miami next. FSU has defeated the Hurricanes seven straight times, and like every year, the `Canes think the “U” is back until the `Noles push them back in their holes again. Blackman and the offense will be relied on bigtime in this game. It’ll be his first start in prime time.

The Seminoles close out September with games against North Carolina State and Wake Forest. The Wolfpack have one of the best defensive fronts in the ACC this year. The Demon Deacons have given FSU trouble in the past, and this will be the first true road test for Blackman.

The tough September schedule will allow FSU’s young talent to assert themselves against quality competition early in the season. True freshmen Blackman, Cam Akers, Joshua Kaindoh, Hamsah Nasirildeen, and Stanford Samuels III all saw snaps on Saturday during the loss to Alabama. Akers and Nasirildeen were especially notable after big plays against the Crimson Tide. Samuels III was involved on the only touchdown pass the `Noles defense gave up.

The former five-star recruit and No. 1 running back in the 2017 class finished with ten carries for 30 yards on the ground. Akers spelled starter Jacques Patrick on the fourth drive and was finally able to help the Seminoles find some running room. He also had a catch out of the backfield for 11 yards where he sidestepped Alabama linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton. Akers showed off his speed and explosion against the athletic Crimson Tide defense. Look for him to push Patrick for the starting role as the season progresses. Running back Khalan Laborn, wide receiver Tamorrion Terry and tight end Tre Mc’Kitty are more freshmen who were impressive during camp. They too are candidates to earn playing time as we get deeper into the season.

Nasirildeen and Samuels both saw playing time in the FSU secondary. Nasirildeen had three tackles and one was a physical stop on third down to end an Alabama drive. He’s bursting with potential on his long and athletic frame. Nas should see plenty of time on the field this year. Samuels was burned on Ridley’s 53 yard touchdown catch, but it wasn’t entirely his fault. There was busted coverage on the play, safety Ermon Lane was caught by the play fake and stepped up for a possible run play instead of dropping to his zone. The freshman cornerback is a player who we’ve heard about through praise from Fisher and he’s a solid cover corner.

Kaindoh saw some time with the defensive line and recorded one tackle. He’s a guy who Fisher praised after the game when asked about the freshmen. Look for him and fellow five-star defensive lineman Marvin Wilson to start earning bigger roles on defense. Linebacker Leonard Warner is another player who could start getting snaps as the season progresses.

Offensively, Florida State could soon have a true freshmen starting backfield in Blackman and Akers. That’s certainly not what anyone could have expected at the beginning of the season. Fisher and his staff will have to bring this group of talented but inexperienced playmakers along as quickly as possible. The success the Seminoles could have in 2017 depends on it.

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