For Florida State, 2017 was a blip. A hiccup. A season to forget for a program that should be a national power.

The 42-13 win over Southern Miss in the Independence Bowl showed that a return to power should come sooner rather than later.

Quarterback James Blackman completed 18 of his 26 passes for 233 yards, four touchdowns, zero interceptions and added 29 rushing yards in his first action after receiving first-team snaps in a camp-like setting for the first time in his career. That’s important, because he wasn’t supposed to be in this situation. 

Deondre Francois was the unquestioned starter all offseason, but injured his leg late in the season-opening loss to Alabama. Blackman was thrown into the fire, and was a deer in headlights behind a lackluster offensive line that was a big reason that the Seminoles sputtered to a 6-6 regular season record.

Now, new coach Willie Taggart has two first-team quarterbacks to choose from as he heads into his inaugural season in Tallahassee — both of whom have experience as starters and the ability to make plays through the air and on the ground.

That’s a rich man’s problem. 

On top of that, freshman running back Cam Akers had 94 rushing yards on just 13 carries to push his season total to 1,025 for the season — breaking Dalvin Cook’s program record for rushing yards by a freshman in a single season (1,008 in 2014).

Think about that for one second — Akers had that kind of success for a team that struggled up front, lost its quarterback, had a predictable offensive identity and had defenses keying on the running backs all year.

That’s strong.

You also saw several youngsters star on Wednesday afternoon in Shreveport, including defensive back/linebacker