FSU comes back behind freshman Francois

by Gary Shelton on September 6, 2016 · 0 comments

in College Sports in Florida, Florida State University, general

FSU coach Jimbo Fisher saw a lot of promise from his team./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

FSU coach Jimbo Fisher led his team to another comeback./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Tuesday, 6 a.m.

He is 19 years old. What does he know about lore?

He has played one game. What does he know about the voices of old men as they retell the great moments of a college program.

Later. Later, when the years have passed and the trophies have been collected, Deondre Francois may sit and talk of the night of his debut, of the night of the comeback, of the night his star was hung.

This was supposed to be Dalvin Cook's night. It wasn't, not even with 107 yards of receptions and 91 yards of rushing.

It was supposed to be the defense's night, but it wasn't despite Damarcus Walker's 4.5 sacks.

It could have been Jimbo Fisher's night. He kept his team believing even when Ole Miss was turning the game into a

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highlight show. Fisher has led the Seminoles to a lot of comebacks. This team, you have to step on to stop.

Give credit to Fisher for even daring to schedule 11th-ranked Ole Miss for the opener. Miami played FAMU. Florida played UMass. And so it goes.

We'll never know what Fisher really thought of his team playing against an Ole Miss team who had one of the nation's best quarterbacks in Chad Kelly while Fisher was stuck with a guy who had never walked onto a field when it counted.

Oh, Kelly threw for 318 yards. Francois threw for 419.

Kelly threw three interceptions. Francois threw none.

Kelly lost. Francois won.

"He's a tough guy," Fisher told ESPN. "He's a competitor. He's a grinder. It takes a lot of maturity to do that in his first game."

Instead, it was Francois' night. He threw the ball 52 times for 419 yards. He added 59 yards rushing. He shook off several vicious hits by Ole Miss, and he found a way to win the largest comeback in school history, turning a 28-6 deficit into a 45-29 win. In his first game. In a game where no one knew if Francois would even start.

Even when Francois got the start (after Sean Maguire broke a foot), the thought was that FSU would prop up Francois by playing well around him. It didn't work out that way. Francois lifted his teammates by playing so well in front of them.

Were there other stars? Sure. Walker was a beast. Ricky Aguayo kicked six field goals. Bobo Wilson caught nine passes for 125 yards. Jimbo Fisher kept his team calm when Ole Miss was taking over the game.

But make no mistake. If you grade the Seminoles' players, Francois probably graded the highest.

Has FSU ever had a debut like this. Oh, Jameis Winston was wonderful, and Charlie Ward was great, and Danny Kanell was good. But Winston was playing against Pitt, and Ward against Duke, and Kanell against Maryland. And none of them broke 400 yards.

Francois was behind. On national TV. Against the 11th-ranked team in the country.

And he measured up to the moment.

The job is his now. The huddle, too. This season is in his hands. Oh, Jimbo Fisher is a coach, and he wasted no time in pointing out that Francois needs work. And maybe he does. After all, he threw 19 incompletions.

He is 19. He has miles to go, and a million drops of sweat and a thousand practice throws and hundreds of jarring shots from defensive ends.

Remind yourself of that. Deondre Francois is just at the start of his career.

Oh, but what a start it was.

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