Florida State quarterback, James Blackman, is coming off two of his best performances this season. Since reclaiming the starting job from Alex Hornibrook, Blackman has been playing lights out football throwing for a combined 5 touchdowns and 1 interception against Boston College and Alabama State. While he is certainly riding on a pair of robust showings into rivalry week, it is important to note that these games were against a historically poor Boston College defense, and an FCS school. The true test for Blackman will be against Florida’s ball-hawking defense. With 22 takeaways, Florida is tied for 9th in the league, while they have only allowed an average 1.5 touchdowns a game.
This is important, as Blackman has struggled against better defenses this season. Boise State, Virginia, Clemson, and Miami all trend towards the top of the league in regards to defensive effectiveness, and all four of these match-ups resulted in losses for the Seminoles.
Now it should be noted that Blackman didn’t’ start against Miami, and he split snaps with Hornibrook against Clemson, but nonetheless this team has struggled this year against any team with a half-decent defense. Florida State’s offense has had an almost Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde quality to it this season. Against poorer defenses they look like they can compete with anybody in the league, but against stout defenses like Clemson they struggle to get any yards at all. This type of inconsistency has led to a notably average performance overall this year for Blackman.
James Blackman is ranked 6th in the ACC in QBR with a rating of 64.5, while he is ranked 57th in the NCAA. QBR is an alternative to the much used “passer rating” statistic. While passer rating takes into account touchdowns, yards, completions, and interceptions, QBR is a statistic created by ESPN that takes into account many other factors. These factors include penalties, opponent strength, quarterback rushing, and a metric called Expected Points Added (EPA). EPA is the value of different actions on the football field, as not every yard is worth the same (for example, a 6 yard pass is worth more on 1st and 10 than 3rd and 10). So, ESPN’s QBR rating is an attempt to create an all-encompassing value for a quarterback’s performance.
James Blackman is in for his biggest challenge yet. It’s going to be interesting to see how he performs against such a strong defense, as well as how Florida State uses quarterback Jordan Travis. If Travis begins to emerge as a strong passer, Blackman might be auditioning to hold onto his spot on the depth chart for next year.
James Blackman Game Stats Per ESPN