Garnet and Gold Game: Offense Bold Prediction

Haylee Blitch/NoleGameday

Between starters being split amongst two teams and injuries spread rampant this spring, uncertainty awaits the offense Saturday night. One thing is for certain though, Bailey Hockman will post the best stat line of any Florida State quarterback in the Garnet and Gold Game. Yes, the same Bailey Hockman who has yet to take a collegiate snap and by most accounts, has had a very average spring.

Deondre Francois is expected to be sidelined due to his knee injury from last September leaving Hockman and rising sophomore James Blackman as the only scholarship quarterbacks on the field Saturday night.

Several factors lead into this prediction. First of all, Hockman should have much better protection up front. Arguably the two most consistent lineman from this spring, Derrick Kelly and Landon Dickerson, will be protecting Hockman. Secondly, he will be throwing to the two best wide receivers of the spring in D.J. Matthews and Tammiron Terry. In addition, he will have access to two running backs who can turn a swing pass out of the backfield into a touchdown in Cam Akers and Khalan Laborn.

The personnel on the Garnet squad gives Hockman an abundance of big play threats. Matthews has spent the entire spring showing he can go for six anytime he touches the ball. Terry has replaced Auden Tate as FSU’s red zone threat. Akers and Laborn, both former five-star prospects, have the ability to take a short pass out of the backfield and make any defender look silly on their way to paydirt.

On the other sideline, Blackman will have the advantage of taking play calls from new offensive coordinator Walt Bell. That may be the end of any edge Blackman will have though. Blackman will be facing an absolutely loaded secondary. There is a good chance that Stanford Samuel III, Levonta Taylor, and Hamsah Nasirildeen claim three of the four starting jobs in FSU’s secondary this fall. Blackman will be facing all three at once this weekend.

The only scholarship receiver with collegiate experience on the Gold team will be Keith Gavin. While extremely talented, consistency has been a major issue for Gavin much of his early career. He is capable of making big plays, but is he ready to take the next step? With him in the backfield, Blackman will lean on Jacques Patrick and Amir Rasul. While experienced expected to be a major contributor in 2018, Patrick isn’t a back that will turn a short catch out of the backfield into an explosive play. However, Rasul has elite speed and could turn a basic jet sweep into a massive gain in the passing column for James.

To be clear, it is extremely unlikely that Hockman comes out of this weekend as the front-runner for the starting job. It will almost certainly be a Francois-Blackman battle in fall camp to see who takes the first snap against Virginia Tech come September. That said, the stars are aligning for Hockman to shine this weekend in Doak.

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