Monday Mailbag: Georgia Tech, James Blackman, and what’s next

It has been a while since our last Monday Mailbag but I’m finally back to answer your questions on all things Florida State athletics at the beginning of each week. Unfortunately, we don’t start our first mailbag of the 2020 season out on the best of circumstances following the Seminoles’ disappointing debut against Georgia Tech.

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Though the team led 10-0 at halftime, inconsistent outings on both sides of the ball over the final 30 minutes led to the game turning in the opposite direction. The Yellow Jackets outscored FSU 16-3 in the second half, completing the upset in Tallahassee after the ‘Noles turned it over on downs with less than two minutes left.

It’s clear that head coach Mike Norvell and his staff have plenty of work to do as this team continues to retool.

Let’s hop into a jam-packed mailbag as we move into a BYE week with our eyes set on Miami.

Any update on Joshua Kaindoh? – @blkshakespeare

Kaindoh went down with what looked like a serious knee injury in the first half after taking a direct shot in the lower body on a dirty hit. Though he didn’t return to the game, later on, we saw him pacing the sideline under his own power with not much of a limp. Nothing has been released on him quite yet and he’ll likely undergo some tests but it’s a good sign he was still on the sideline being allowed to move around.

What does the D-Line have to do to be elite (like their preseason expectations)? – @lukelmore

After the entire defense, and defensive line, in particular, were hyped up throughout the entire offseason, they laid a dud in the second half. Georgia Tech went on two scoring drives that went at least 72 yards each as FSU simply had no answer for them. All in all, the Yellow Jackets accumulated 438 yards of offense and converted 8/16 third-downs while the ‘Noles generated just one sack on the afternoon (courtesy of a linebacker and safety).

The defense had plenty of opportunities to record more tackles for loss and sacks but time and time again true freshman quarterback made plays with his legs. It would also help if Kaindoh isn’t sidelined for long as FSU’s pressure dropped off tremendously once he got hurt. The Seminoles have to get a lot better at containing scramble quarterbacks because they’ll play an even better one in two weeks.

Who was the best player versus Georgia Tech in your opinion? – @number1_nole

I’ll give you two. On offense, junior tight end Cam McDonald was pretty impressive, finishing with four catches for 41 yards. He made an extremely athletic play to come down with a back-shoulder pass on the first possession of the game and converted a timely third down in the second half. He has clearly taken a step forward. Defensively, I’ll go with Amari Gainer, who led all players with 10 total tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, and half a sack.

Gainer was one of the few bright spots on defense at his Stud spot. He’s continued to progress following a solid 2019 season.

Would Blackman have improved better under Jimbo Fisher or do we just need a new QB? – @nick_mccall94

James Blackman definitely would’ve fit Jimbo Fisher’s pro-style offense better than the systems Willie Taggart or Mike Norvell run but that’s still not really an excuse for the performance he put up on Saturday. Blackman was continuously late on reading the defense and throwing the football downfield. He had a plethora of open wide receivers that he simply failed to connect with because of timing mistakes on his part.

Now in year four, it’s extremely frustrating to see Blackman make the same mistakes we’ve seen throughout his entire career. I’m not sure if he’ll be benched just yet but the Belle Glade native has got to be feeling the heat.

Why won’t we put Jordan Travis in at QB? – @monkeboy8496

Simply put, Travis doesn’t have a consistent arm and he can’t really read defenses. He’s good in a pinch as a runner but he’ll never be a full-time starter in this offense.

How do you feel about the play-calling from Saturday? – @donnie.cary15_

I didn’t mind the play-calling for the most part. It seemed that Florida State tried to scheme around its offensive line with a lot of misdirections, quick passes, outside runs, and quarterback rollouts. The first drive went as perfectly as you could ask for but then Blackman began to hold onto the ball and stopped making his reads.

As for the running game, it didn’t help that the Seminoles’ offensive linemen started dropping like flies early in the game. They can’t afford to lose guys and have to turn to the backups. On Chaz Neal’s first play at right tackle after Devontay Love-Taylor’s injury, a defender went right around him and forced a sack-fumble that led to Georgia Tech’s game-winning field goal.

The execution was the problem rather than the play-calling.

If Chubba Purdy comes back healthy in a few weeks do you think he takes the starting job? – @acobia

It wouldn’t surprise me. Purdy was handpicked by Norvell and Dillingham. Rodemaker could get a shot as well.

Can we win with James Blackman or do you foresee a switch at QB? – @carnolld

I’ve been the biggest defender of Blackman all offseason but if his timing within the offense doesn’t get A LOT better after looking at film of this game, give me the new blood. I’d rather see Rodemaker and Purdy working on their development than continue to see what is supposed to be a veteran quarterback make rookie mistake after rookie mistake.

What are your thoughts on how Norvell and the team will respond to this adversity against Miami? – @tallybreadtim

We’re going to learn real fast on if this team is beginning to buy into Norvell and his staffs’ message with a tough rivalry road game staring them in the face. They can either regroup after this loss to Georgia Tech or crumble. The players on this roster have seen a lot of failure over the past couple years, I want to see if they’re ok with being mediocre or come out pissed off against the Hurricanes.

How much improvement from game one to game two can we truly expect to see? – @david_ulry

Potentially, a decent bit of improvement. Having that original starting five back on the offensive line would really help the run game and pass blocking. Blackman’s timing negated FSU from connecting on a couple of big plays downfield on passes but the staff can fix that if he does start against Miami.

Defensively, you can expect Adam Fuller to be harping on short passes and containing the quarterback run, two areas, that if fixed, would instantly help the Seminoles.

Why did we pass on Jeff Sims? – @garyaroberts

Norvell didn’t think that Sims fit his offensive system and instead went with Purdy and Rodemaker at signal-caller in the 2020 class. There’s no doubt that right now it’s looking like a questionable decision but, in my opinion, Sims didn’t win the game for Georgia Tech as much as FSU lost it. The ‘Noles have a bright future at quarterback with Purdy, Rodemaker, and 2021 commit Luke Altmyer. I wouldn’t worry too much here.

Miami prediction after the Tech performance? – @artistic.visuals20

In a rivalry game after a BYE week, I’ll take Florida State in a shocker, 24-20, as the defense makes a big stop on King late. The team is going to need to go back to the drawing board and fix their issues against Georgia Tech if they want to rebound.

Is Norvell already a hire we should question? – @dylbuice

Not at all and if you’re already leaning towards that mentality, you need to re-evaluate yourself.



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