Fran­cois starts at QB for Semi­noles

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Sports - By Chaunte’l Powell

Ker­rith Whyte (6) scores in the first quar­ter of FAU’s vic­tory over Western Ken­tucky on Satur­day.

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Deon­dre Fran­cois said ear­lier this week he was still the No. 1 guy for the Florida State Semi­noles, and Satur­day he was in fact the starter against No. 3 Notre Dame.

Coach Wil­lie Tag­gart thought James Black­man played well against NC State last week while Fran­cois re­cov­ered from a rib in­jury and con­cus­sion, but with the Semi­noles fac­ing the No. 25 de­fense in the na­tion, the de­ci­sion most likely was made to limit mis­takes and penal­ties.

“Notre Dame’s a re­ally good foot­ball team and again we’re go­ing into a hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment, so for whomever the quar­ter­back is, they got to un­der­stand that and where we’re play­ing at and against a good foot­ball team,” Tag­gart said ahead of the game.

“But again, for us, we can’t nec­es­sar­ily worry about Notre Dame. We got to worry about our­selves and get bet­ter and play smarter and do the things that we need to do. We need to play win­ning foot­ball, and that’s what we haven’t done. What I mean by that is those turnovers and penal­ties and play­ing smart. Worry about us and get us bet­ter; that’s got to be the fo­cus.”

En­ter­ing the Notre Dame game, Fran­cois has bat­tled in­juries while go­ing 171-of-281 pass­ing for 2,039 yards, 13 touch­downs and seven in­ter­cep­tions.

Black­man, who started 12 games last sea­son while Fran­cois was out due to a knee in­jury, is 33-of-51 pass­ing for 510 yards, five touch­downs and one in­ter­cep­tion so far this sea­son.

Frus­trated Florida State fans have taken to so­cial me­dia to urge Tag­gart to bench Fran­cois in fa­vor of Black­man.

Tag­gart has urged his play­ers to ig­nore neg­a­tiv­ity and unify dur­ing a chal­leng­ing sea­son.

De­spite a cryp­tic In­sta­gram post by Fran­cois that read, “Ev­ery­body wanna take your spot, un­til they find out what it takes to play your po­si­tion on my soul,” he said he has de­vel­oped a bond with Black­man and they are cheer­ing each other on dur­ing a rough sea­son.

In­juries along the of­fen­sive line have made it es­pe­cially tough for both quar­ter­backs, who have taken nu­mer­ous bruis­ing hits.

“Me and James just sup­port each other, and that all started last year when I got hurt,” he said. “He had to take over and I was sup­port­ive of him each and ev­ery game. This year, when I’m in the game, he’s do­ing the same for me like I did for him last year.”

Black­man echoed the sen­ti­ments and said he con­sid­ers Fran­cois to be fam­ily.

“That’s my brother. It’s no way around it, that’s my big brother,” Black­man said. “He showed me the ropes. You see him on the side­line dur­ing the game. He’s in my ear ev­ery time I come to the side­line, so we com­pete on the field be­cause we play foot­ball; that’s the way the sport goes. But other than that, it’s noth­ing, it’s no dif­fer­ent. That’s my brother. We’re not go­ing at each other off the field. We’re here to­gether.”

Cold con­di­tions: Florida State play­ers in­sisted they could man­age the cold weather, but tail­back Cam Ak­ers gave up an early fum­ble and play­ers gath­ered around heaters on the side­line as much as pos­si­ble as the tem­per­a­ture dur­ing game time fell into the 20s.

“I’ve been through tougher times than this,” Black­man said be­fore the game. “Ah, man, it’s foot­ball. I ain’t go­ing to let the weather get to us.”

His team­mates, who all train in mostly hu­mid con­di­tions, agreed.

“I’ve played in some pretty cold games,” said FSU mid­dle line­backer Don­tavi­ous Jack­son, who played high school ball near Hous­ton. “… Peo­ple think we’re not be­cause we’re South­ern boys, but I’m ac­tu­ally look­ing for­ward to it.” The As­so­ci­ated Press con­trib­uted to this re­port.

RALPH NO­TARO/FAU ATH­LET­ICS

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