Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois has had a hard time in the first half of his debut for the Seminoles on Monday. Ole Miss has been after him all night, and Francois has had to stand in against a furious pass rush.
His first touchdown pass came at the end of the second half, but it required some resilience. Ole Miss defensive end Marquis Haynes made FSU's offensive line into a carpet mat and ran right over it.
Here, FSU left tackle Roderick Johnson appears to get tangled with left guard Derrick Kelly, and Haynes and some of his colleagues just storm through. This kind of pressure has been consistent.
Francois emerged toward the end of the offseason as Florida State's starter, following in Jameis Winston's footsteps by winning the job as a redshirt freshman. He's got clear athletic gifts and an arm to boot, and the Seminoles need him to be good. He sits atop a quarterback depth chart that isn't all that deep, especially after Malik Henry's indefinite suspension came down in August. Francois got to make his game debut in Orlando, his hometown, so Monday has to be a pretty special moment for him.
FSU signed Francois in the class of 2015, when he was a four-star recruit and the third-ranked pro-style quarterback in the country. He had a developmental year last year, and now he's getting his shot. It helps a lot to have the backing of a runner like Dalvin Cook, but Florida State's fortunes for 2016 are closely tied to Francois' own. If this goes right, the Noles could make the College Football Playoff, and Francois could be a huge part of the equation.