TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida State’s Deondre Francois has mostly silenced concerns for those who thought he might struggle in his first two starts.
The redshirt freshman followed up Monday night’s record-setting debut against then-No. 11 Mississippi with a solid outing against Charleston Southern. Francois threw for 262 yards and three touchdowns as the third-ranked Seminoles cruised to a 52-8 victory against the depleted Buccaneers on Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium.
Coach Jimbo Fisher said he was curious going into the game how Francois would do with a quick turnaround. There was even more of a possibility of a slight letdown after he became the first Atlantic Coast Conference freshman QB to throw for over 400 yards in his first game.
“For the most part, he seemed to do really well,” Fisher said. “We had a couple nice throws down the field. I thought we were efficient on third down and in the red zone.”
Francois though got off to a quick start, completing 10 of his first 12 passes. Two of them were touchdowns to Travis Rudolph as FSU built a 28-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The first touchdown to Rudolph — a 36-yarder — was a nice downfield throw where Francois was able to thread it over two Charleston Southern defenders.
“We didn’t want to focus on who we were playing we wanted to focus on how we were playing,” said Francois, who finished 25 of 32 including an interception. “That’s typically how we were going to start and we got off to a fast start.”
Including the Ole Miss game and the first four drives on Saturday, Francois led the 2-0 Seminoles to points on 13 straight possessions with eight resulting in touchdowns.
After two games, Francois has thrown for five touchdowns, has completed 69 percent of his passes for five touchdowns and only one interception.
“I feel like these two games I coming into my own,” Francois said.
Dalvin Cook ran for two touchdowns and had 83 yards on 11 carries. His longest run was a 37-yard touchdown in the third quarter that extended FSU’s lead to 42-8.
Rudolph, who was thrown to nine times, finished with seven receptions for 105 yards. It was the third 100-yard receiving game in the junior’s career.
Charleston Southern, the seventh-ranked team in the Football Championship Subdivision, was without 14 players who were serving a suspension for violating NCAA rules by using financial aid meant for books to purchase other items. The suspensions featured 10 starters including its top two running backs, four offensive linemen and both safeties.
The Buccaneers (1-2) got on the scoreboard late in the second quarter on a 57-yard pass from Robert Mitchell to Kameron Brown. Mitchell, who was the fourth-string quarterback as recently as last week, took over from London Johnson during the first quarter and was 7 of 20 for 142 yards. Charleston Southern’s first two quarterbacks were injured last week against Kentucky State.
“I think you saw the guys that were here not focus on who wasn’t here. We focused on who was,” coach Jamey Chadwell said. “Those guys got an opportunity against a top team and did some good things.”
CHARLESTON SOUTHERN: It is difficult enough for an FCS team to compete with a top 25 program with an intact roster, but without nearly half of their starters, the Buccaneers at least can say they averted a shutout.
FLORIDA STATE: Playing their second game in six days, the Seminoles were able to get some younger players extended playing time in the second half. However, they didn’t get out of the game completely healthy. Sophomore safety Derwin James suffered a knee injury in the fourth quarter and Fisher said James is expected to have an MRI in the next couple days.
Florida State was only three points behind Clemson for second in last week’s poll . With the Tigers struggling against Troy State on Saturday, the voters might decide to move the Seminoles up a spot when the latest rankings are released on Monday.
CHARLESTON SOUTHERN: The Buccaneers, who were the preseason pick to win the Big South, open conference play on Sept. 24 at Monmouth.
FLORIDA STATE: A tough road test against No. 13 Louisville, which had 845 yards of total offense in its 62-28 win at Syracuse on Friday.
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