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Is FSU quarterback Deondre Francois fully recovered from his knee injury?

Francois was a good runner in 2016 but has regressed this season following his injury.

NCAA Football: Florida State at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest questions entering Florida State’s 2018 season was the health of QB Deondre Francois, specifically his rehabilitation from the knee injury against Alabama that ended his sophomore season.

While the coaching staff has assured fans and media that Francois is fully healthy from his injury, the game tape tells a different story.

Through five games, the quarterback run game has been virtually non-existent for Florida State. Sacks excluded, Francois has rushed for just 77 yards at 3.3 yards per carry. While Francois is not an elite runner, he proved as a freshman that he is capable of breaking free for big gains on the ground.

In 2016, Francois rushed for 485 yards at 6.6 yards per carry on scrambles and designed quarterback runs. Keep in mind, Jimbo Fisher did not run his quarterbacks much, nor did his offense keep defenses on their heels with the QB run game.

While Florida State’s offense as a whole has been anemic, it is surprising that the QB run game has contributed next to nothing.

Of course, part of this might be because Francois simply has not fully recovered from his injury.

Let’s take a look at the tape, beginning with pre-injury Francois.

Francois does not possess elite speed like Lamar Jackson or Khalil Tate, but has enough juice to outrun USF defenders for a 35-yard touchdown. Thanks to some good blocking, Francois has a clear path for a long touchdown run.

In the play above against Ole Miss, Francois aborts the end-around pass and takes off on a scramble. He nearly scores, but is brought down by an Ole Miss defender close to the goal line.

This is a slow developing play, but the designed QB run helped FSU ice the game against Miami in 2016.

The takeaway from these clips is not that Francois is an elite runner, but more so that he looks comfortable running the ball. There is no hesitation or doubts when he runs. Now let’s compare these to clips from 2018.

While Francois scores here, take note of how long it takes for him to get to top speed. This is a much different run than he makes in 2016.

This is by far Francois’ longest run of the season. It’s clear that even a year later, the knee injury continues to be an issue for the junior quarterback.

With Francois not fully recovered from his injury and James Blackman simply not a good runner, it is unlikely that the QB run game will become a staple of Florida State’s offense until current commit Sam Howell arrives on campus.

For now, Florida State will have to rely on Cam Akers and Jacques Patrick to provide the run game while the ’Noles continue to work toward another bowl season.