Sunday, September 23, 2018
Colleges

FSU’s Jimbo Fisher: Fumble needs to inspire QB James Blackman

TALLAHASSEE — Florida State’s James Blackman ripped the buttoned ends of his chin strap off his helmet in frustration and walked to the sideline after the biggest turnover of his young career.

Waiting for Blackman, dropped to one knee after the ill-timed mistake, was Fisher, who already began talking to his quarterback about the play that eventually cost the Seminoles the game.

Blackman, during a quarterback-read play in pistol formation, pulled a handoff away from fellow true freshman Cam Akers and let the ball slip out of his hands during the botched run play, allowing Louisville to recover the fumble and later secure a 31-28 victory in the final seconds Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium.

"He does (blame himself), totally," Fisher said this week of the miscue. "It matters to him. You know why?

"I don’t mean it in a rude way to him, (but) he’ll remember that forever. That’s a learning experience."

Fisher and the Seminoles knew going with Blackman, the first true freshman to start at quarterback for them since 1985, would come with its fair share of up and downs after Deondre Francois suffered a season-ending knee injury in September.

Blackman has shown signs of tremendous upside and accuracy, leading fourth-quarter comebacks in four of his first five starts. During his fourth-quarter push during a loss to Miami on Oct. 7 and another fourth-quarter rally during a win at Duke on Oct. 14, Blackman completed 27 of 31 passes for 319 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.

But turnovers have become an issue for Blackman, who has thrown two interceptions in each of his past three games, along with the decisive fumble against Louisville. He finished 16-of-28 for 248 yards and two touchdowns against the Cardinals.

"We’ve moved the ball extremely well, but you’ve got to take some chances in there in what he does, and sometimes with a young guy, it’s going to be a poor decision or a poor throw," Fisher said.

"But those are going to happen because you’ve got to go, you gotta stretch the field at times. … Hopefully the (mistakes) don’t happen. But you need to coach them so they don’t."

Fisher said he has a "tremendous relationship" with Blackman because "he has the same kind of passion I do. That’s why it’s fun to coach him."

Just because the Seminoles are off to a 2-4 start, however, does not mean Fisher plans to loosen the reins on his play-calling. "You have to understand, again, it’s always not what you want to do, it’s what you can do and where they are in their development that allows them to make certain plays, and you’ve got to pick your moments," Fisher said. "That’s the thing I think that makes (us) feel so bad because we’re right there on the cusp of those young guys being able to handle all this. We’ve just got to get them to make that one play at the right moment."

LEACH WANTS CASH: Washington State coach Mike Leach is making a big push to get Texas Tech to pay him some $2.5 million he feels he is owed for the 2009 season. Leach has hired a private investigator to seek information about Tech’s leadership and its decision to fire him in 2009 as a result of a controversy involving player Adam James, who said he was placed in a darkened closet while trying to recover from a concussion. Investigator Wayne Dolcefino of Houston is supposed to dig up information on school officials, including phone and other records. "Their smart play is to pay the man," Dolcefino said. Leach has also launched a website called paycoachleach.com to build public support for his cause. The goal is to pressure Texas Tech officials to pay Leach money he feels he is owed after leading the Red Raiders to a 9-4 record during the 2009 season. Leach is the winningest coach in Texas Tech history, taking the school to 10 bowl games in his 10 seasons there.

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