There’s no denying that the season-ending injury to starting quarterback Deondre Francois makes the jobs of the rest of the Florida State football team a bit more challenging.
After all, it was announced Monday officially that true freshman James Blackman will be the Seminoles’ starting quarterback this weekend against Louisiana-Monroe.
Praise has been thrown Blackman’s way since early in fall camp from the likes of Jimbo Fisher and various players. This still doesn’t change the fact that a player who arrived on campus around two months ago will be helming the FSU offense on Saturday.
Due to this injury, at least a few games that favored FSU have now shifted towards being toss-ups. Some games on this list that come to mind are FSU’s matchup with Miami next week, NC State the weekend after and the Seminoles’ final regular season game against Florida.
This puts more of an onus on the rest of the roster to step up its game to make up for the absence of Francois. The defense in particular is feeling a call to rise up to the challenge.
“We got a lot of guys that can step up and make plays at every position,” Derwin James said. “If it’s on us to do that, we’re willing to do that as a defense.”
If Saturday’s showing against Alabama is any indication, the defense looks up to the test.
Against the Crimson Tide, the FSU defense allowed just 269 yards and 4.48 yards per play. That’s the fewest yards per play Alabama has been held to since 2014.
This in spite of the fact that the defense was thrust into terrible situations by poor play on offense and special teams throughout the second half. Still, the unit’s resiliency shone through.
“We never gave up,” defensive tackle Fred Jones said. “We’ve given up, I’ve seen, in the past, but tonight we played from the first whistle literally till the fat lady sang.”
That may have to be a common theme over the weeks to come as Lamar Jackson’s Louisville offense comes to town in October and the Seminoles travel to take on a Clemson team chock full of skill-position talent in November.
Still, FSU’s defensive players remain exceedingly confident.
“We just want to show everybody in the country we’re the best defense in the country,” cornerback Levonta Taylor said. “Every weekend we’re just going to show the world what we can do. We’re playing for one thing and one goal so that’s why we come out there with this passion.”
It’s early yet, but a showing like FSU had against Alabama’s loaded offense is a good start towards making Taylor’s claim a possibility.
“When you're on defense and you can affect people on three levels and you can contest everything they do and make it really tough, it makes it very difficult to execute,” Jimbo Fisher said on Monday. “You may give up plays, but for long periods of time it becomes very challenging.”
That new challenge begins this Saturday in FSU’s home opener against Louisiana-Monroe and really kicks into overdrive the following week when the Miami Hurricanes come to town.