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Questioning how Florida State redshirt junior quarterback Deondre Francois will bounce back seems to be a question that gets asked a lot and one that should be asked again.
For one half of Monday night’s 24-3 loss to Virginia Tech, Francois looked like his old self and arguably better. At the half, the FSU signal caller was 16-for-24 passing for 214 yards with a couple of throws that probably should have been touchdowns. In a brand new offense, Francois seemed confident, in control and more accurate than in years past.
The second half for the quarterback making his first start since suffering a season-ending patella tear injury last season however, left plenty to be desired. Francois finished the night 22-for-35 passing for 233 yards and three interceptions.
The 101.6 quarterback rating was the second-worst of his career as Francois became the first FSU quarterback to be picked three times in an opener since 1992. For one looking for a bright spot, the last to do so was future Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward, who was intercepted four times in his first start as a redshirt junior against Duke.
For Francois, disproving doubters has been a theme since suffering the knee injury in the 2017 opener in Atlanta against Alabama. Some of the doubt cast upon Francois has been self-inflicted from spending Senior Day last season in Orlando rather than Tallahassee to trivial police reports and a marijuana citation.
Post-injury, it looked like the adversity might be too much to handle. Through those matters, there was some who thought that Francois may never see the field again in garnet and gold. Over the spring and fall camps, Francois performed well, won a quarterback competition and back the respect of his teammates and on Monday night, he was back in black as the FSU starter.
Although Francois struggled in the second half, Monday’s debacle was a total team loss with the biggest woes coming from the offensive line and on special teams. Offensively, the Seminoles were consistently stopped behind the line of scrimmage and turned the ball over five times.
As far as individual performances goes, the only worse start for Francois in terms of quarterback rating during his career was his first road start at Louisville two years ago in which he went 7-for-18 passing for a touchdown, an interception and a lost fumble.
He followed that up with a turnover-free effort in which he accounted for 169 yards passing, 75 yards rushing and two total touchdowns in a road win at South Florida. The following week watched him account for 404 total yards and the go-ahead rushing touchdown with less than 30 seconds to play in a heartbreaking 37-35 loss to North Carolina.
As far as his play goes, a home contest against Samford should give Francois and the entire offense a chance to rack up yards, points and head to Upstate New York feeling good about themselves. Francois faces a perfect opportunity to respond — something he’s done plenty of recently.