TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois is still day-to-day and could potentially play Saturday at North Carolina State, coach Willie Taggart said Thursday morning.
Francois, a redshirt junior, left last week’s Clemson game with an apparent injury, which led to speculation that sophomore reserve James Blackman might make his first start of the season.
That speculation only increased when Francois didn’t throw during the open portions of practice on Tuesday and Wednesday. But Taggart cautioned against reading too much into that, as only a small percentage of the team’s practices are visible to media.
“(Francois) is still day-to-day,” Taggart said. “You guys didn’t see him do anything, but he’s still day-to-day.”
Despite playing in a new offense, Francois is second in the ACC in both completions (171) and passing yards (2,039), and has thrown 13 touchdowns against seven interceptions.
Blackman, who started 12 games in place of the injured Francois a year ago, has completed 4 of 5 passes this season for 73 yards and a touchdown. But he’s taken only one significant snap this year – a one-yard pass late in the second quarter at Miami.
Incidentally, Blackman made his first start last season against NC State.
If Blackman is needed, Taggart said he has no doubts that he can perform well.
“Very confident,” Taggart said. “James is fully prepared, has plenty of experience and he has the backing of his teammates to go out there and get the job done.
And then, for good measure, Taggart added:
“Very, very – very – confident.”
Noles bounce back on practice fields: Teaching his team to respond well to adversity has been a theme for Taggart since Day 1 in December.
It clearly didn’t happen against Clemson last week, but, on a smaller scale, it might have happened at practice this week.
“We came out Tuesday, and it was just OK,” Taggart said. “And Wednesday, we bounced back. I thought we had a really good practice yesterday. It was highly competitive and guys were making plays. They were back in the mode of going out and competing and getting better.”
Of course, taking steps forward on the practice fields is one thing. Doing it at NC State’s Carter-Finley Stadium – one of the ACC’s notoriously difficult places to play – is another. But the Seminoles feel they’re on the right track.
“It’s just a mind thing,” sophomore receiver D.J. Matthews said. “Got to look at the positives, not the negatives. Just believes in ourselves more. That’s all it is.”
Doeren on Blackman, Akers: NC State’ Dave Doeren was the first opposing ACC coach to get a look at then-freshmen Cam Akers and James Blackman.
FSU hosted Doeren’s Wolfpack a year ago, a game in which Akers ran for 55 yards on 12 carries, and Blackman threw for 278 yards and didn’t throw an interception.
Akers and the FSU running game have yet to really get on track this season, and Blackman has played only sparingly so far, but Doeren still thinks highly of each.
“He’s a great back,” Doeren said of Akers. “He runs hard, he plays with an edge. He’s shifty and strong. He’s got all the tools.”
And as for Blackman, Doeren praised both his on-field talent and his off-field presence.
“You respect his competitiveness and his arm strength more than anything,” Doeren said. “I think he’s a very energetic, charismatic guy, plays hard. He is mobile – I don’t think he’s a designed guy in the running game, but he definitely creates plays with his feet and keeps his eyes downfield.”