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Alex Hornibrook starts for Florida State Seminoles ahead of James Blackman

Willie Taggart; “The best part of it is, he didn’t turn the ball over.”
Florida State's quarterback Alex Hornibrook, right, runs for first down yardage as Syracuse's Andrew Armstrong closes in to make the tackle during the second quarter Saturday.
Florida State's quarterback Alex Hornibrook, right, runs for first down yardage as Syracuse's Andrew Armstrong closes in to make the tackle during the second quarter Saturday. [ STEVE CANNON | AP ]
Published Oct. 27, 2019

TALLAHASSEE — Florida State remained coy this week about who would start at quarterback against Syracuse.

It turns out there was a good reason why; the Seminoles flipped passers, again, starting Alex Hornibrook ahead of incumbent James Blackman.

Hornibrook didn’t put up enormous numbers — he completed 15 of his 26 passes for 196 yards and no touchdowns — but coach Willie Taggart said the Wisconsin grad transfer performed well, from his throws to making sure everyone was lined up correctly.

“The best part of it is, he didn’t turn the ball over…” Taggart said. “I thought he ran the offense, and we executed it and put some points on the board.”

Hornibrook said he found out late in the week that he would get the first snap ahead of Blackman, who has started six games this season including each of the previous two. Hornibrook’s only other start (against North Carolina State) came after Blackman tweaked his knee.

“You just go out there and play,” Hornibrook said.

It’s unclear which one will start next week against Miami, but Taggart said Blackman handled his benching “like a pro.” Blackman was 2 of 3 for 24 yards in mop-up duty.

Audible

“Beat Miami. That’s how I feel. We’re going to beat ‘em. It’s going to be a ball game. It ain’t gonna be like last year. It’s going to be a different game.” —FSU running back Khalan Laborn on next week’s rivalry game against the Hurricanes. FSU lost to Miami 28-27 last season.

’Nole notes

• Kicker Ricky Aguayo was out with an illness, marking the end of a streak. Saturday was the first time since the Orange Bowl after the 2012 season that didn’t feature a point from an Aguayo, according to Warchant. Roberto Aguayo, the FSU All-American and Bucs bust, was at the game.

• FSU didn’t allow a touchdown pass for the second week in a row. The last time the Seminoles accomplished that feat: November 2017 (against Delaware State and Clemson).

• Cam Akers’ 26 points (four touchdowns and a two-point conversion) were the most by an ACC player this season.

Matt Baker’s takeaways

• Syracuse was the perfect get-right game for FSU’s pass rush. The Seminoles failed to record a sack in their previous two games. FSU had four in the fourth quarter against a bad offensive line — a good sign of what might happen next week against Miami’s leaky line.

• No one is going to question what Florida State has meant to legendary coach Bobby Bowden. But it was jarring to see him unable to attend an honoring of his 1999 national title team because he was out of town speaking at … Clemson.

• Saturday, like every Syracuse game so far, was a reminder of how special Orange quarterback Eric Dungey was. He led Syracuse to 10 wins last season, and the Orange has looked awful since he graduated.