College roundup: FSU falls in Blackman’s debut

by Gary Shelton on September 23, 2017 · 0 comments

in College Sports in Florida, Florida State University, general, University of Florida

McElwain's Gators pulled another one out of the fire./CARMEN MANDATO

McElwain's Gators pulled another one out of the fire./CARMEN MANDATO

Saturday, 7 p.m.

A season that started with great expectations has turned to disappointment already.

The FSU Seminoles fell to 0-2 Saturday with a 27-21 loss to North Carolina State at Doak Campbell Stadium. If you want, you can call it the final casualty of Hurricane Irma; the Seminoles played after a 21-day layoff.

The game was the debut of new quarterback James Blackman, who wasn't terrible. He hit only one of his first four attempts, but he finished with 22 of 38 passes for 278 yards.

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“For the most part, I thought the guy did a heck of a job,” Fisher said. “Got the ball down the field, made big plays at times. We’ll evaluate the film and look at all the little details, but game management, his presence, his poise — the moment didn’t seem to overwhelm him.”

But the Seminoles weren't sharp enough on the other side of the ball, giving up 357 yards. Late in the game, with a slim chance, FSU gave up a 15-yard run for a first-down.

“We were going to get it back with a minute and a half (to play),” Fisher said. “… The odds of getting an onside kick aren’t that great, and still with three minutes to go, I think it was the smart thing to do with who we had on defense. We had third and 7 … and they popped a run.”

Once again, FSU coach Jimbo Fisher is telling fans not to give up before September is over.

“(We) still have a chance to have a nice football team,” Fisher said. “It’s been done around here before, this kind of start. And we’ve just got to line up and go play and don’t hang your heads now. Get ready to go to work and get ready to go play Wake Forest and win a game on the road, hopefully.”

Saturday, FSU travels to Wake Forest.

                                                    Florida 28, Kentucky 27

Different quarterback. Different receiver.

In the end, however, it was the same old pain.

For the 31st consecutive season, the Florida Gators beat the Kentucky Wildcats Saturday. This loss, however, might have been the most painful of them all.

There for a while in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats had a 13-point lead. Soon after, they chased last week's hero -- quarterback Feleipe Franks -- from the game. Finally, it seemed they were destined to win one.

And then they didn't. A second straight comeback by the Gators pulled out a 28-27 victory, with all-but-forgotten quarterback Luke Del Rio coming off the bench to direct the rally.

This year, most of the quarterback conversation has been about Franks and transfer Malik Zaier. But Del Rio came off the bench and hit nine of 14 passes for 74 yards. He directed Florida's final two scoring drives, one of 80 and one of 58 yards. On his winning touchdown pass -- a five-yard touchdown pass to Freddie Swain -- Del Rio found Swain uncovered by the Kentucky defense, which had only 10 men on the field.

"We just wanted to jump-start it a little bit," McElwain said of inserting Del Rio. "He's healthy, and he's been doing well at practice. We'll evaluate it."

For the Gators, Kadarius Toney was again big. He had a 36-yard touchdown run, a 50-yard option pass and caught four passes for 35 yards.

“That was fun," McElwain said. "I just can’t tell you how much I really like our football team. Our guys. They keep hanging in there and figuring out a way to play the game and don’t listen to stuff. Just go out and play. You know, that was fun. It was a heck of an atmosphere. They did a good job of hyping the game up and all that. You know, you could feel it on the sideline. They just didn’t have a quit in them. That’s the second week in a row people in the concession stands are liking us because they’re selling stuff all the way to the end.”

Florida plays at home against Vanderbilt next week.

Miami 52, Toledo 30

It's probably a good thing that the University of Miami started slow Saturday.

Otherwise, who knows if there were enough light bulbs for the scoreboard?

The Hurricanes trailed Toledo 16-10 at the half, but exploded in the second to run away for a 52-30 victory. Quarterback Malik Rosier threw for 333 yards and three touchdowns, and running back Mark Walton had 204 yards (on only 11 carries) as Miami ran away.

Perhaps the early sluggishness had to do with the three weeks of inactivity of Miami. But once it started to get its offense going, there was little to slow down the Canes. Miami finished with 587 yards of total offense.

That was enough drama for three weeks of football,” Hurricanes coach Mark Richt said. “I’m very impressed with what Toledo did tonight as a football team. We all know the score doesn’t indicate what really happened in that game or how close it was. … Mostly, I’m thankful for the victory. I’m usually that way anyway, but this one in particular, just a little bit more than normal. We’ve been through a lot and it has been an emotional roller coaster for a lot of us. So many thing you have to be thinking through and planning and making decisions on. … Our administration was awesome helping us do everything we felt we needed to do to keep our players safe and our staff safe and then to try and regroup and start thinking about football.”

Rosier said that not pressing was the key to the victory.

Composure. I would say that was the biggest thing,” Rosier said. “We took the lead at first, they wound up taking it back and like I was telling the receivers, the big thing is you guys have to win outside. The first half, they really had us … But those guys did a great job in the second half, as you can tell. The offense started clicking, the guys started doing a great job of creating separation and making the balls easier for me to throw and for me, it was just being humble and being patient and waiting for the opportunity to make plays.”

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