College Football Pick
A lot of eyes will be on this Game on Saturday, not because of the matchup, but to see how James Blackman looks for Florida State. With Deondre Francois out for the season, the Seminoles have a lot of questions surrounding them. To help Blackman, his first Game as a starter should go well as -33.5 point favorites (at 5Dimes Sportsbook) against Louisiana-Monroe.
The Warhawks weren’t terrible in their first Game covering by 20 points against Memphis, although still lost 37-29 and scored 15 unanswered points in the Fourth quarter. If Blackman has trouble completing passes against this defense that gave up close to 40 points per Game last year, the ‘Noles could be in for a disappointing season.
This is going to be a much different Game than last week for FSU after getting handled by Alabama. For starters, there are going to be a lot more running lanes for Cam Akers and Jacques Patrick to get through. The bigger question is what will happen in the passing Game without Francois. Blackman wasn’t a highly touted recruit and comes in with a smaller frame. If he can complete some passes in this Game, he can at least gain confidence going forward with a Game against Miami (FL) next.
There’s a slight problem for Blackman in that ULM actually has a decent pass defense. It was its strong suit last year and just held Memphis quarterback Riley Ferguson to 10-of-25 passing. Sure, they can’t stop the ground Game (319 yards allowed to Memphis), but that’s not going to get Blackman experience or boost his composure. Expect plenty of work for Akers and Patrick to get a lead in this Game and then have Blackman pass a little more to at least get his toes wet.
On the other side, the Warhawks are rolling with two quarterbacks, which is never a great idea. Garrett Smith (10-of-17) and Caleb Evans (11-of-20) split time last Game and it’s hard to say it worked, despite the team scoring 29 points. Smith provides a bit more of a running element as he led the team in rushing yards last Game, but they’ll find more resistance here whether it’s Smith or running backs Derrick Gore and Kayin White.
The Seminoles held their ground against Alabama, with 4.1 yards per carry allowed a decent rate. Without a few big runs given up, the ‘Noles would’ve been in a great spot. Things should be different in this one and ULM could have some issues finding the end zone, especially if neither quarterback can get going.
A lot of people will tune into this Game to watch Blackman play, but he may not be asked to do much against what is expected to be one of the worst rushing defenses in the country. Either way, covering is still in the cards for the Seminoles as ULM was down 37-14 entering the Fourth quarter of their Game against Memphis. If the Tigers didn’t let up, that could’ve been a huge win. With Florida State easily an all-around better team, expect plenty of points through the ground Game, while keeping ULM’s two-quarterback offense in check.