Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Jones: Deondre Francois injury makes bad weekend worse for state football

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 02:  Deondre Francois #12 of the Florida State Seminoles hold his left leg after being injured in the fourth quarter of their game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 2, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) 775013012

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 02: Deondre Francois #12 of the Florida State Seminoles hold his left leg after being injured in the fourth quarter of their game against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 2, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) 775013012

ATLANTA — What an awful Saturday for college football in the state of Florida.

And it got worse Sunday with the crushing news out of Tallahassee.

The college football season is barely under way and it already feels like it's going to be a long season. In some ways, it feels over already.

What a bummer.

In Dallas, the Gators were once again showing that nothing is new. Same ol', same ol'. An offense that was crummy under Will Muschamp is even crummier under Jim McElwain. Wasn't McElwain brought in specifically to fix the offense? The Gators were routed by Michigan, and there's likely a booster or two lighting a flame under McElwain's seat as you're reading this.

And who would blame them? If you're a Gator fan, how much confidence do you have in McElwain at this point?

Meantime, back in Tampa, my goodness, what a mess. Isn't USF supposed to be good? Like really good? Like undefeated good? Yet, the Bulls are lucky they aren't winless at this point after struggling to beat San Jose State and Division I-AA Stony Brook. What's going to happen when the Bulls play real teams?

And, in Atlanta, the most sobering game of all. Florida State, the program with the highest hopes of any team in the state, saw its night go from bad to worse on one play. Now the season looks to be in serious trouble.

The bad part: The Seminoles played their guts out, but they weren't nearly good enough. In the end, they got knocked around by top-ranked Alabama.

The worse part: Quarterback Deondre Francois suffered a knee injury late in the game, and it's being reported he will miss the rest of the season.

Climbing out of an 0-1 hole and fighting all the way back to the national title game — and a possible rematch with the Crimson Tide — was going to be hard enough with Francois. The chances of doing that without him rest somewhere between slim and none.

What a shame.

Until Francois got hurt, it wasn't a totally lost night for FSU. While you never had the feeling, especially in the second half, that the Seminoles were going to win, they weren't blown out of the swanky new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. There were actually some positive signs.

The stats for the night were pretty even, and even though they lost 24-7, the Seminoles showed they have a heck of a defense. Put in tough spots all game, the defense hung tough and gave Florida State a puncher's chance.

Unfortunately, FSU couldn't find a haymaker when it needed one in the second half.

"They kept us in the ball game," Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said of his defense. "A couple of times, Alabama had a chance to put it away and we kept them at a two-score game at 21-7."

Florida State's biggest issue was special teams. It had a field goal blocked. It had a punt blocked. It fumbled a kickoff. Add those moments up and you're talking about a 13-point swing in a game that was decided by 17 points.

"Those are big, critical plays in the game," Fisher said.

Alabama is hard enough to beat without giving it help.

"When you play good people like that," Fisher said, "you've got to be perfect."

Just when it looked like FSU was going to get out of Atlanta with nothing worse than a competitive loss to the best team in the country, the night turned dire. With just a few minutes left in the game, Francois drifted back to pass, rolled to his right, then was caught from behind by Alabama safety and Tallahassee native Ronnie Harrison.

Francois' left leg buckled underneath him and he had to be helped off the field. How concerned is Fisher?

"Oh, I'm definitely concerned because that's your starting quarterback," he said after the game.

Maybe this is as bad as it will get this season for FSU, UF and USF.

Maybe Francois' long-term replacement, whether it's freshman James Blackman or someone else, will be better than anticipated and the Seminoles, led by that terrific defense, will go on a roll. Maybe McElwain will find the right quarterback and the Gators will go on a roll. Maybe USF will stop hitting the snooze on the season and go on a roll.

But it doesn't feel like it at the moment.

And it's not as if Miami or UCF is going to go undefeated.

Oh brother. When does hockey season start?

Jones: Deondre Francois injury makes bad weekend worse for state football 09/03/17 [Last modified: Sunday, September 3, 2017 9:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Whatever USF has to say about Temple waits till Thursday

    College

    "The holes were wide open. Anyone could have run through them."

    South Florida Bulls cornerback Mazzi Wilkins (23) intercepts a pass during the second half of the home opener for the South Florida Bulls against the Stony Brook Seawolves at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Five reasons why Kentucky can beat Florida for the first time since 1986

    College

    By Matt Baker

    GAINESVILLE — Florida's 30-game winning streak over Kentucky is one of the most impressive feats in the country.

    Florida Gators offensive lineman Martez Ivey (73) celebrates Florida Gators running back Mark Thompson's  (24) touch down in the first quarter, putting Florida on the board 6-0 during the game between the University of Florida and the University of Kentucky in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016, in Gainesville, Fla. Florida defeated Kentucky 45-7. ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times

  3. Once targeted by the Bucs, Dalvin Cook thrills for the Vikings

    Bucs

    How good would the Bucs be with running back Dalvin Cook?

    Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) slips a tackle by Steelers strong safety Sean Davis (28) to score a touchdown Sunday in Pittsburgh. [AP photo]
  4. Boxer Jake LaMotta, immortalized in 'Raging Bull,' dies at 95

    Obituaries

    MIAMI — Jake LaMotta, the former middleweight champion whose life in and out of the ring was depicted in the film Raging Bull, for which Robert DeNiro won an Academy Award, has died, his fiancee said Wednesday. He was 95.

    Jake LaMotta, retired professional boxer, shakes hands with Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) on the field before the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg on Sept. 15, 2015. LaMotta was on hand to sign autographs in the Ted Williams Museum.
  5. J.R. Sweezy shows what Bucs were missing

    Bucs

    By Greg Auman

    TAMPA —- Sunday's season-opening win against the Bears saw the debut of 13 Bucs, a mix of rookies and free-agent veterans.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive guard J.R. Sweezy (73), seen at center, runs through drills during training camp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Monday, July 31, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times