CFB Preview: No. 3 Florida State-Charleston Southern
Jimbo Fisher just might be a habitual winner at this quarterback development deal.
Florida State started redshirt freshman Deondre Francois is the season-opening, primetime Labor Day win over Ole Miss, and the Seminoles did far more than live to tell about it even after falling behind 28-6.
This week the third-ranked Seminoles are planning to roll up their sleeves to start the game against Charleston Southern at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee (12:30 p.m. ET), and that includes Fisher and Francois, who rolled up 500 yards total offense in the shocking rally over highly touted Rebels quarterback Chad Kelly.
Francois drew Fisher's ire – television cameras captured a blatant eye roll and a few, as Fisher called it, “bleepity bleeps” – on the sideline but wore a smile after the game.
“In the first quarter, I just had to get hit a couple times,” Francois said of settling in Monday night. “After the first couple of drives, things weren't going right, but I just tried to stay calm and just keep chopping. That's our motto this year: 'Just keep chopping.' “
Francois, who rushed for 85 yards, had the direct counsel of one of Fisher's prized pupils, former Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston, while guiding Florida State's eight straight scoring drives. In the game, Francois was 32 of 52 for 419 yards.
“He got a little shook. But he bounced back and managed the game and made plays. That's what a game manager does; they're playmakers,” Fisher said. “And when the opportunity came to make plays, that's what he did.”
Florida State is turning the page to Charleston Southern, which won last week but could be down its top two quarterbacks Saturday. The Buccaneers are 0-16 all-time against FBS opponents, most recently a 56-6 loss to Alabama in 2015.
Fourth-year coach Jamey Chadwell nearly led an upset of Vanderbilt in 2014 and won at Appalachian State.
The Buccaneers have 29 wins since Chadwell was hired, a span of three seasons and two games into 20116, after winning 26 games the six years before his arrival.
After an overtime loss to North Dakota State, five-time defending FCS champion, in their opener the Buccaneers pounded Kentucky State, 57-7, last week.
In the win, the Buccaneers had almost as many critical injuries as touchdowns.
Starting quarterback Kyle Copeland suffered a season-ending knee injury in the first quarter, preseason Big South Conference offensive player of the year Darius Hammond left hurt and backup quarterback Shane Bucenell left with a sprained ankle.
CSU will be further shorthanded after announcing on Friday that 14 players have been suspended for violating NCAA rules involving financial aid.
Senior running back Ben Robinson wrote on Facebook that more than 30 players were disciplined in the probe and given the choice of sitting out the Florida State contest or a game against Monmouth on Sept. 24.
Robinson wrote that the suspensions are for buying things like “pencils, binders and electronics” at the campus bookstore using money allotted for books.
The school confirmed that 32 players will serve one-game suspensions — 16 have already served their penalties and two others will sit out at a later date.
“Florida State is Florida State,” Bucs safety Corbin Jackson said. “We're going to go down there and play our game. We can't be worried about who it is we're playing.”
While CSU scrambles to fill out the two-deep, Florida State is banking on its newest blood to continue making a difference.
Senior defensive end DeMarcus Walker had 4.5 sacks and forced a fumble on Monday, but many of the key contributions for the Seminoles came from their youngsters.
Freshman kicker Ricky Aguayo, the younger brother of former Seminoles kicker Roberto Aguayo, a three-time all-American, came to the aid of a stalling offense to boot six field goals.