Francois starts at QB for Seminoles
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.