Florida State football: Seminoles look to regroup after Deondre Francois' injury against Alabama
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Third-ranked Florida State faces a second straight season of trying to regroup after an injury to one of its top players. This one though strikes right at the heart of the offense in quarterback Deondre Francois.
The sophomore injured his left knee during the fourth quarter Saturday night in a 24-7 loss to No. 1 Alabama in Atlanta. Francois was hurt when he was sacked from behind by Ronnie Harrison. Francois was helped off the field and could not put any weight on his left knee before being carted off.
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The only diagnosis Fisher had after the game was "unfortunately, he's hurt." Francois was on crutches and the left leg had an air cast applied to it after he received X-rays.
"To look back and see your quarterback holding his knee, it's frightening," center Alec Eberle said. "But at the same time, we know Deondre is a tough and persevering guy."
Last season the Seminoles lost safety Derwin James after he injured his knee in the second game against Charleston Southern. Florida State proceeded to lose two of its next three games, including a 63-20 drubbing at Louisville. The Seminoles were also near the bottom of the national statistics in pass defense until turning things around the second half of the season.
"We're not going to quit as a team and lay down," James said. "It's not just a one-game season. We have to show up ready to play."
The quarterbacks find themselves in the same situation as last season's secondary — light on depth and experience. Francois started all 13 games last season and threw for the fifth-most yards in school history (3,350).
Of the four quarterbacks after Francois on the depth chart, none of them have started a college game and have a combined 19 pass attempts.
All of those passes have been attempted by junior J.J. Cosentino, but it is unlikely he would move to the top. James Blackman was in for the final series against Alabama and Fisher said that the 6-foot-5, 195-pound freshman would likely take over if Francois misses any time.
If Blackman gets the call on Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe, he would be the ninth freshman in program history to start but the first true freshman since Dan Kendra in 1996.
Fisher said during preseason drills that Blackman has picked up the offense quickly.
"He's a very intelligent guy who shows a lot of poise, presence and command," Fisher said. "He can throw the football and move around, too."
Eberle also said he has full faith in Blackman and has been impressed with the way he can make calls at the line.
The Louisiana-Monroe game should give Fisher a good chance to evaluate all of his options before a Sept. 16 matchup against No. 18 Miami. Also on the roster are true freshman Bailey Hockman and walk-on freshman Jake Rizzo.
Florida State's College Football Playoff hopes were thought to be still strong even if it lost to Alabama, providing it could win out. Having Francois on the sidelines would make that road a lot tougher.
"The mood is we played pretty well but we didn't finish," said Eberle after the Alabama loss. "We did too much to not finish. We've got a long season ahead and now we have to do our jobs."