Ideally, Florida State true freshman quarterback James Blackman wouldn't have taken a snap this season. He would've developed behind starter Deondre Francois, a redshirt sophomore, and retained four years of eligibility with his own redshirt season.
Even if Blackman became the starting quarterback to open the 2018 season, it would've been a 667-day layoff from his final game at Glades Central (Belle Glades, Fla.) High School to his first game at Florida State. Another year on the bench behind Francois? One thousand and twenty-four-day layoff.
The 6-foot-5, 169-pounder is making his first career start on Saturday against North Carolina State. It will be Blackman's first career start and the Seminoles' first game since Sept. 2, a period 21 days after Hurricane Irma forced the cancellation of two games. So while it may feel like an eternity for Florida State players, it's a welcomed layoff for Blackman — or at least a helpful one.
"Yeah, I definitely think [Blackman has] taken advantage of it, there's though doubt," Fisher said on a conference call this week. "He's done a great job of understanding the nuances of the offense, a lot more details of it, more things that go on and getting more comfortable with the players, no doubt."
Blackman was a three-star recruit in the 2017 class who enrolled early and participated in spring practice. Despite the modest recruiting rankings — 247Sports' No. 16 pro-style passer and No. 389 overall player — his coaches and teammates see something special.
“I’ve said it since the kid stepped on campus: He’s a special kid,” junior center Alec Eberle said. “There’s something about him – you just know. With football, sometimes people have the ‘it factor.’ The kid’s got it. Whatever ‘it’ is, he has it.”
And he'll need "it" to lead a team that's been idle for an unexpected and unprecedented amount of time during the regular season.
"Nobody's ever been through this," Fisher added. "They never went 21 days without playing before . . . [s]o in that regard, yes, you worry about rust. Can it be like an opener? Yes? Could it not be? Yes. All you can control is how you practice and your mindset going into the game, looking forward to playing well and being able to execute what you do and that's what we've got to be able to do."
Florida State and North Carolina will kickoff at 12:00 p.m. ET at Doak Campbell Stadium.