TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The big story at the Florida State spring game was the absence of quarterback Deondre Francois.
Last year, Francois was injured in the season-opening loss to Alabama, missed the rest of the year, and has been limited during spring practice. Francois was cited for marijuana possession just two days before the spring game. He was not arrested and was given a diversion program. Florida State head coach Willie Taggart said that the school was handling the situation internally.
"He’s still on this team," Taggart said. "We need him to be smart about who he’s around and who he spends time with."
In Francois' absence, James Blackman, who stepped in as the starter last year, and Bailey Hockman started for the two sides.
Here's what I learned from the Garnet and Gold game, attended by an announced record crowd of 53,974:
- Florida State is going to run a more energized offense. Opposing defenses need to be ready for an up-tempo approach. It's part of what Taggart called the "Gulf Coast Offense" when he was coaching at South Florida, and he has the chance to run it to even greater effectiveness with the talent he can attract to Florida State. "We kept things pretty vanilla on offense and that was on purpose," said Taggart. "We weren't as consistent we could’ve been on offense. We had to many drive killers."
- Blackman looks more confident, but still has improvements to make if he's going to wrestle the starting job away from Francois--or have it fall to him, if Francois can't satisfy Taggart between now and the start of fall practice. "It was an ok spring but we have a lot more to do and a lot more to work on," said Blackman. "We found out what all we need to work on so that we can come back even better for fall camp." While quarterback remains a question the Seminoles may be very deep at running back. Khalan Labron enjoyed a big game, with a pair of touchdowns, including a 91-yard scamper. Cam Akers, who led the Seminoles with over 1,000 yards rushing last season as a freshman, is back as well.
- Offensive line depth could be an issue for Florida State. The Noles put black jerseys on offensive linemen so they could play for both the Garnet and Gold teams. Depth on the offensive line is an issue for most teams in college football, but the elite teams tend to attract and develop talent on the line. Line play has been an issue at FSU for the past several years and Taggart will have to find a way to bridge the gap until he can get more top recruits in the fold. On Saturday night the Garnett and Gold teams gave up a combined 12 sacks.
Oh, and Taggart seemed to enjoy himself:
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