The initial reaction to seeing Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois being taken off the field at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Saturday night — and having an aircast wrapped around his left knee — was a sight all too familiar to sports fans, and the solemn expression on his face told the story. This injury was not one that would be easy to bounce back from. A day later, the prognosis was as feared.
According to multiple reports, with The Tallahassee Democrat the first media outlet with the information, Francois suffered a torn patella tendon injury in the fourth quarter of No. 3 Florida State’s loss in Atlanta against No. 1 Alabama. The injury occurred when Francois was sacked by Ronnie Harrison from behind. Francois immediately grabbed his left knee after the hit and was removed from the game.
The exact extent of the injury has not been confirmed by Florida State, but a minor patella tendon injury can take between three to six weeks to heal, and typically can heal without surgery. With Francois reportedly heading to surgery, this injury is clearly more severe in nature.
“I saw him, and I hugged him, and told him I’m sorry he’s hurt, we’ll get the diagnosis and I love him,” Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher said after the game Saturday night, according to The Orlando Sentinel. “And we’ll figure out what we’ve got to do from here.”
So, where does Florida State go from here? We may have been given an interesting viewpoint on that Plan B last night.
Instead of turning the offense over to redshirt junior quarterback J.J. Cosentino, who has some limited playing experience with the Seminoles, Fisher inserted a true freshman to jump into the fire against Alabama’s juggernaut of a defense. James Blackman got the call, thus burning the option for a redshirt season in Tallahassee right away in emergency backup duty. It was an interesting choice, but Fisher seemed confident in going back to Blackman should the need arise.
Fisher says that as of now, Blackman is the starting QB for #FSU if Francois can't play.
— David Visser (@DavidBVisser) September 3, 2017
It appears the need has arrived.
While no team ever wants to be in a situation to deal with injuries, they are unavoidable and there will come times when you have to make some tough calls with your substitutions. The benefit a program like Florida State will tend to have is their backup options will be pretty good, even if it takes some time to get adjusted.
And so Blackman likely gets the call to step in and see what he can do about keeping Florida State’s national title hopes alive. Make no mistake, the Seminoles are not to be counted out of the picture after just one week of football, but the pressure will be on to get the quarterback play right for the rest of the year to keep a run to an ACC title on track.
Blackman may have been just a three-star recruit according to the 247 Sports composite rankings, but the 6′-5″ pro-style quarterback out of Florida possesses a solid arm and made a solid first impression in fall camp with the Seminoles. This is evidenced by the fact he came off the bench first against Alabama in his first career game. The question is how long will it take for him to be fully developed. Florida State will have to play it a bit more simple with him in the immediate future if he is the guy to go with in Week 2 against Louisiana-Monroe.
The schedule gives Florida State a chance to relax a bit in Week 2 and experiment because Louisiana-Monroe shouldn’t be much of a threat to Florida State this week. But Miami comes to town the following week, so Florida State will have to find a comfort level this week before the Canes come to Doak Campbell.