TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois will miss the rest of the season after tearing the patellar tendon in his left knee in the fourth quarter Saturday night in a 24-7 loss to No. 1 Alabama in Atlanta.
People familiar with the situation confirmed the injury to The Associated Press on Sunday night. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the school’s medical information policy.
The Tallahassee Democrat first reported the injury.
Coach Jimbo Fisher is expected to have a further update, including when Francois is expected to have surgery, during his weekly press conference Monday. Fisher said after Saturday’s game that if Francois was out, James Blackman would likely be the starter.
If Blackman starts for third-ranked Florida State on Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe, it would be only the second time in school history a quarterback has started as a true freshman. The last time it happened was in 1985 when Chip Ferguson started against Miami.
The Louisiana-Monroe game should give Fisher a good chance to evaluate all of his options before a Sept. 16 matchup against No. 18 Miami.
Francois was hurt when he was sacked from behind by Ronnie Harrison. Francois was helped off the field and could not put any weight on his left knee before being carted off.
The only diagnosis Fisher had after the game was “unfortunately, he’s hurt.” Francois was on crutches and the left leg had an air cast applied to it after he received X-rays.
“To look back and see your quarterback holding his knee, it’s frightening,” center Alec Eberle said. “But at the same time, we know Deondre is a tough and persevering guy.”
Harrison, who grew up in Tallahassee, tweeted after the game that the hit was not intentional and hoped that Francois would make a quick recovery.
Last season the Seminoles lost safety Derwin James after he injured his knee in the second game against Charleston Southern. Florida State proceeded to lose two of its next three games, including a 63-20 drubbing at Louisville. The Seminoles were also near the bottom of the national statistics in pass defense until turning things around the second half of the season to finish 10-3.
“We’re not going to quit as a team and lay down,” James said. “It’s not just a one-game season. We have to show up ready to play.”
The quarterbacks find themselves in the same situation as last season’s secondary — light on depth and experience. Francois started all 13 games last season and threw for the fifth-most yards in school history (3,350).
Of the four quarterbacks after Francois on the depth chart, none of them have started a college game and have a combined 19 pass attempts.
Junior J.J. Cosentino has played in five games the past two seasons. Also on the roster are true freshman Bailey Hockman and walk-on freshman Jake Rizzo.
Fisher said during preseason drills that Blackman has picked up the offense quickly.
“He’s a very intelligent guy who shows a lot of poise, presence and command,” Fisher said. “He can throw the football and move around, too.”
Eberle also said he has full faith in Blackman and has been impressed with the way he can make calls at the line.
Florida State’s College Football Playoff hopes were thought to be still strong even if it lost to Alabama, providing it could win out. Having Francois on the sidelines would make that road a lot tougher.
“The mood is we played pretty well but we didn’t finish,” said Eberle after the Alabama loss. “We did too much to not finish. We’ve got a long season ahead and now we have to do our jobs.”