Fla. State dogged by QB troubles
The Florida State defense is national championship good. It was extremely impressive in the opener against Alabama, dominating for long stretches.
But it might not matter. You don’t win championships with a freshman at quarterback (Oklahoma was the last to do it, in 1985). And it’s hard to fathom how a kid who has been on campus for a month will navigate the Seminoles’ difficult schedule without a few more losses.
But why did Florida State have no experienced backups behind Deondre Francois, who tore up his knee and leaves the No. 1 job to James Blackman?
The answer is DeAndre Johnson and Malik Henry.
Johnson punched a woman at a local bar and was kicked off the team. By all accounts, he was a model citizen in junior college and had never been in trouble before that night in 2015. So we can’t blame coach Jimbo Fisher for a recruiting mistake. But Johnson was rightly and swiftly dismissed.
In retrospect, the recruitment of Henry was a pretty severe misstep. The five-star kid out of California was supposed to be the next great quarterback at Florida State. But he switched schools every other month, it seemed, and then got booted from IMG Academy in Orlando before his senior season.
Despite those red flags, Florida State stuck with him. He was suspended indefinitely in August of his freshman season and transferred in December.
Meanwhile, it’s hard to imagine how redshirt junior J.J. Cosentino, who has been coached by Fisher for four years, could be passed on the depth chart by a kid in the system for a month. But that’s the reality.
So now Fisher is forced to have his first true freshman quarterback since Gabe Gross at Auburn in 1998. Gross started nine games, completing 44.7% of his passes for 1,222 yards, seven touchdowns and 12 interceptions. The Tigers went 3-8, Fisher and the Auburn staff were fired and Gross quit football the following year to focus on baseball.
Fisher was asked Sept. 4 how the development process changes when a young quarterback such as Blackman is forced into the starting lineup.
“It doesn’t,” Fisher said. “Usually you coach what they can do. ... But at the same time ... I didn’t see nothing in the rule book that says he can’t go play well or our team can’t go play well.”