Blackman named FSU’s starting QB

James Blackman was in a quarterback competition for a third straight season. And he will start for Florida State in the 2020 season opener under his fourth head coach.

Coach Mike Norvell announced Tuesday morning that the redshirt junior will be the Seminoles’ starter against Georgia Tech on Sept. 12.

“I think James has had an extraordinary camp, really pleased with the growth and development that I’ve seen from him in all aspects on the field,” Norvell said. “Doing a really good job of taking care of the football. … He’s got all the skills and traits that are necessary to be a very successful quarterback.”

In his FSU career, which includes 23 starts, Blackman has thrown for 5,079 yards, 41 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. The criticisms of Blackman have been his emotions and decision-making, often under duress, as well as a high rate of interceptions. Playing behind a porous offensive line, Blackman has often had little time to make reads but, when he has time, has fared well.


Blackman feels he has done a better job limiting turnovers in the spring and preseason camp. But he also sees an improved mindset in how he responds to plays and keeps a more calm focus on the next play.

“The main thing that coach Norvell hit on every day is just responding,” Blackman said. “I feel like I’ve gotten better with just responding, understanding the situation, knowing that every play is it’s own play. Just taking what happens first play and just move on to the next play. Can’t control what happens last play, you have to be ready for the next one. I just control what I can control and just produce on every play and try to execute at a high level.”

Norvell acknowledged Blackman must keep his emotions in check. He can’t get hung up on the negative plays, whether it’s an incompletion or turnover. Keeping calm and making the most of each play that’s in front of the FSU offense is critical.

“One of the things I’ve emphasized to James is the response to every situation,” Norvell said. “Some things are not going to work out. There’s going to be a bad play that probably shows up in every game. But his response is what’s going to define him. That’s one of the things I’ve been most pleased with. James is an emotional player and I’m an emotional coach, and when we’re out there on the field, that’s what you want. You want guys who are passionate about playing and coaching this game. But when it comes to game day, it has to be controlled.”

Blackman won a four-man quarterback competition, which gradually was trimmed down to two as Chubba Purdy suffered a collarbone injury and Jordan Travis has missed an undisclosed amount of practice. Tate Rodemaker would likely be the No. 2 quarterback when FSU plays the Yellow Jackets.

In Blackman’s career, he has seen ups and downs through four head coaches – Jimbo Fisher, Willie Taggart, Odell Haggins and Mike Norvell. And he has tried to adapt with constant change among his play-callers, a group that includes Fisher, Randy Sanders, Taggart, Walt Bell, Kendal Briles and now the combination of Norvell and Kenny Dillingham.

In evaluating the quarterbacks, Dillingham said he saw a consistency in Blackman.

“At that position, consistency is the mark of a championship and he showed that throughout camp,” Dillingham said. “He showed a work ethic and intensity in every single rep whether that was in an individual drill or a team drill. He showed us that he can do those things. At the same time, it’s leadership ability on the field. His teammates love him, his teammates follow him, he has the respect of his teammates. So I think it was just a combination of a bunch of things that went into that decision.”


  1. Chuck Newcomer

    At the risk of belaboring a discussion that has now been settled by this announcement, I feel obliged to note a couple of points. First the oft cited statistic of 68% completion rate is seldom placed in the context of his having had the luxury of playing with Cam Akers in the backfield his entire career to date. Throwing against defenses that are stacked to stop the run is an easier task than directing an offense against defenses that are balanced. A review of JB play in obvious passing downs is also a highlight reel of his turnovers (not just the ints; he’s had some horrendous fumbles too); and obvious passing downs are typically when a game was on the line and he failed to change the outcome; we lost. Another point to consider is when was the last time anyone saw JB deliberately and accurately throw to a receiver’s back shoulder? I honestly cannot recall seeing it. What has driven most of JB’s statistical “success” to date is capable play calling by OCs who took advantage of run stop first defenses. Even Bell, when not interfered with by WT, gave JB multiple opportunities of single covered WR that he is less likely to enjoy in 2020.

    So what’s may point? If CMN and staff have now developed JB to read pass defenses (both pre and post snap), throw to a back shoulder when needed or throw a receiver open and secure the ball like a typical P5 Top 25 starting QB, they will have demonstrated some of the best coaching we’ve had at the position since Bobby won big games with guys like Blair Williams, Coker and Ron Stockstill and the future will indeed be bright.

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