Fisher confirms Francois injury, names Blackman starting QB

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By: WCTV Eyewitness News
September 4, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- FSU fans’ worst fears were realized Monday, when Fisher confirmed that Deondre Francois suffered a torn patellar tendon in his left knee near the end of the Alabama game.

Francois, a redshirt sophomore and the reigning ACC offensive rookie of the year, is scheduled to have season-ending surgery tomorrow.

Fisher estimated Francois’ recovery time at 4-7 months, and is hopeful to have him back for spring camp next year.

The injury is difficult blow for Francois, who had spent the last year preparing to take the next step after a promising first year as a starter.

“He’s very disappointed,” Fisher said. “Because he wants to play, be he (also) wants to be there with his teammates. And I think that’s one of the things that people don’t really (realize): You become so connected as a team and when you’re a quarterback, when you go through the work habits and the things you have to do to play at this level.”

Losing Francois also increases the degree of difficulty for Florida State, which still has designs on a run to the College Football Playoff despite last week’s loss to Alabama.

While FSU is of course better with Francois than without him, Fisher still believes the Seminoles have enough pieces in place to reach their goals.

“You’ve got to take the hand that your dealt and go play,” he said. “Listen – we’ve got plenty of ability, we’ve got plenty of good players. Now we’ve got to go coach, get the cobwebs out and play better. … I’m looking forward to the challenge, and I think they are, too.”

Meet FSU’s new quarterback: James Blackman

A few months ago, James Blackman arrived on campus as the least experienced of four quarterbacks on the depth chart.

Come Saturday, he’ll be the first Seminoles’ first true freshman to start under center in more than 30 years.

“As of right now, James Blackman will be our No. 1 guy going in,” Fisher said.

The decision comes at first as a surprise, but makes more sense viewed in context of Blackman’s fall camp. The Belle Glade, Fla., native might have been the most consistently praised quarterback throughout August, having impressed with his strength, poise, arm strength and decision-making.

It seemed then that Blackman would make a fine quarterback of the future. Turns out that the future is here.

“He has presence and poise,” Fisher said. “I’ve always said the No. 1 thing (quarterbacks) have to have, barring anything, I always look at it very early on, I say the No. 1 thing is presence. … They just have presence. When they talk, there’s a natural command to what they do and how they carry themselves.

“And I think James does that.”

If Blackman does start Saturday, he’ll be the first FSU true freshman to start at quarterback since Chip Ferguson in 1985, and Fisher’s first freshman starter since Gabe Gross at Auburn in the early 1990s.

Blackman took three snaps at the end of the game Saturday but has yet to throw his first pass. Fisher said that, despite having a freshman under center, he doesn’t expect to change much about the way he coaches or his offensive philosophy.

“No,” Fisher said. “You coach what the guys can do. You don’t change the way you coach. You coach the same way. … And you have to remember, (in camp), we had 1s on 2s and 2s on 1s, he was throwing on 1s in every scrimmage. So, he went against that and produced and made a lot of good plays against a very good defense.”

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