It did not take long for quarterback Deondre Francois to become a household name for Florida State fans that watched the Seminoles defeat the Ole Miss Rebels, 45-36 late Monday night. College football fans across the county who still do not know number 12 for the Noles will soon find out who Francois is after he led the Seminoles to the largest comeback in school history.
His statistics were more than impressive, but what I found the most encouraging about his performance was his demeanor when he found his team down 28-6 late in the second quarter. When the Seminoles needed a spark the most, the young gunslinger drove the offense down the field, scoring a touchdown that would end up shifting the momentum for the entire game.
What I have yet to mention is how the offense struggled mightily for the better part of the first half. The offensive line was over-powered by the Rebels on multiple occasions, making it difficult for Francois and the Noles star running back, Dalvin Cook, to gain positive yardage.
Despite phenomenal performances by several players, what turned the tide for FSU does not show up in the stat sheet. While most will say that the halftime adjustments were the key to the comeback victory, I would argue that we saw the corrections in the second quarter when coach Jimbo Fisher turned the reins over to his young signal caller.
After failing to gain yards on the ground, Francois found his groove due to near flawless play calling by Fisher. The seventh-year head coach put Francois in perfect scenarios to allow him to get in to a rhythm.
After a multitude of short passes and roll-outs, Fisher would mix in runs and a Kermit Whitfield reverse, just to keep the Rebels on their toes. Not every play had to be a home run, and once Francois took control of the game, the whole stadium knew he was not relinquishing that grasp. Fisher opened up the playbook, slipping tight ends and running backs out of the backfield down the sidelines, spreading the defense out, and Francois took advantage.
The Seminoles offense converted on 50% of their 3rd down conversions, and racked up 580 total yards of offense, while dominating the time of possession, 42:39 to 17:21. Sure, the players made those plays, but the play calling put the right athletes in the position to succeed. In the postgame press conference, Jimbo Fisher harped on the fact that his players trusted in each other and in the coaching. After Monday night, I think Seminole nation should do the same.
Some may call Jimbo’s approach in the early portion of the game conservative, but I think easing Francois into the game is what allowed him to let loose in the second half, carving up the Ole Miss defense for 478 total yards on his own.
We have something special in Deondre Francois, but make no mistake about it, Fisher was the MVP.