The Daily Nole

FSU’s Francois Quietly Enjoying Big Statistical Year

Jeff Romance/FSU athletics

Fresh off his best statistical performance of the season that culminated in an ACC Offensive Back of the Week honor, Florida State redshirt junior quarterback Deondre Francois will need a big second half for FSU to achieve bowl-eligibility after an up-and-down first six games.

Francois has certainly had his struggles in the first year of new head coach Willie Taggart’s “Gulf Coast Offense” with many of the issues having existed previously under Jimbo Fisher. Pocket presence, anticipation, awareness and making the correct reads in both the passing and running game have all been issues. Despite all of that, Francois is on pace for a pretty good statistical season — arguably the best since reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston in 2014.

Here’s a look at the pace he’s on statistically, assuming FSU makes a bowl and plays a 13th game:

Keeping the current pace won’t be easy for Francois as the Seminoles face some pretty good defenses down the stretch, which include four ranked opponents and three top-10 teams in Clemson, Notre Dame and Florida. While the 2018 campaign has been a mixed bags, Francois’ efforts are certainly deserving of some admiration.

Francois currently leads the ACC in completions and passing yardage and ranks second in the conference in touchdown passes behind only Boston College’s Anthony Brown. Brown has thrown 14 touchdown passes this season — one more than Francois.

While Francois’ efficiency numbers aren’t as strong as the raw ones, it is worth noting that the redshirt junior has two rushing touchdowns and has accounted for 15 or 68 percent of FSU’s 22 total touchdowns and 75 percent of its offensive touchdowns. Passing has accounted for 73 percent of Florida State’s total yardage.

Compare that to Winston’s 2014 campaign when the current Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ quarterback accounted for 64 percent of the FSU offense and 50 percent of the team’s total touchdowns. It is also worth noting that Francois is on a pace to throw fewer interceptions on more pass attempts.

If Francois can get Florida State to a bowl game and maintain his current 265.7 passing yards per game rate, he would finish with the fourth-most passing yards in a single season at FSU behind only Chris Weinke in 2000 and Winston in 2013 and 2014. Weinke won the Heisman Trophy in 2000 and Winston did likewise in 2013. His 24 touchdown passes would tie Chris Rix’s 2001 season for the 10th-most in a season at FSU.

It’s true that Francois’ numbers are largely inflated by FSU’s lack of a running game as the Seminoles rank dead last in the ACC in rushing yards per game and are the only team in the conference averaging less than 100 per contest. On the other hand, a ground game would also allow Francois to be more efficient as Saturday’s contest against Wake Forest showed. The Seminoles had their best day on the ground with 132 yards rushing on 4.6 yards per carry — both season-highs against FBS competition.

While Francois committed costly turnovers and struggled mightily in losses to Virginia Tech, Syracuse and Miami, it should be noted that he led game-winning drives in the fourth quarter of victories over Samford and Louisville. In FSU’s two other wins — over Northern Illinois and Wake Forest — Francois averaged 352.5 yards through the air.

Although Francois’ numbers could rank highly by season’s end, few would contend that this was one of the best seasons ever for an FSU quarterback. With that said, Francois’ willingness to continue to get up and battle and make plays in the clutch should be appreciated.

With a makeshift offensive line and no running game, it’s hard to contend that Francois has been anything other than the Seminoles’ offensive MVP to this point. There’s little to suggest that will change over the final five or six games.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson

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