Willie Taggart cannot start Deondre Francois

Logan Stanford/Icon Sportswire

As someone who started the season on the #FrenchyHive, it’s time for me to say it. Deondre Francois absolutely cannot start for Florida State again this season.

Despite losing to North Carolina State last Saturday, it was evident that the offense found more of a spark under James Blackman. The Seminoles threw for a season-high 421 yards while tying their season-high with four touchdowns through the air.

It wasn’t just the production on offense either, Blackman knows how to find multiple targets, and they’re the right targets. Seven receivers caught passes against the Wolfpack, two of Francois’ favorite targets, Nyqwan Murray and Keith Gavin, combined for just three catches.

Instead of sticking with the veterans, who haven’t really produced lately, Blackman spent his day searching for playmakers like Tamorrion Terry, DJ Matthews, and Tre McKitty. It paid off well for FSU’s air attack.

Terry and Matthews had career days in the loss to NC State. Terry caught five passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns while Matthews wasn’t far behind him, catching a team-high 10 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown. McKitty was the third-receiver on the day, hauling in five passes for 57 yards.

Despite the result, the game showed the potential of these four members of the 2016 class. Blackman, Terry, Matthews, and McKitty all flashed the potential to continue to be building blocks going forward.

When your quarterback throws for 421 yards and four touchdowns while completing 63% of his passes, should there even be a question of who should start the next game? Well, that’s where we’re at so far during Notre Dame week. Head coach Willie Taggart has been non-committal on a starter against the Irish.

“We’ll see on Saturday,” Taggart said during his media availability on Monday. “We’ve got to go through the week and see how Deondre’s doing and see how these guys are practicing throughout the week. We’ll see on Saturday. We’ll make that decision later in the week.”

Seriously, what the heck is Taggart talking about? At this point, it feels like putting Blackman on the bench would really hurt the attitude among the players and the fans. The sophomore from Belle Glade played admirably as a freshman to keep FSU’s bowl streak alive a year ago and it’s time to give him a chance to make magic happen twice.

Many, if not the majority, of players on the ‘Noles roster consider Blackman as the leader of this team. He’s the guy that’s stayed engaged on the sideline, motivating his teammates, despite seeing playing time in just three games all season.

Where was Francois last season when he didn’t play? Anyone remember senior day?

The result on Saturday obviously wasn’t what Florida State wanted but Blackman showed his prowess through the air. It’s time to face the facts. The running game isn’t going to get better until the offensive line is rehauled, no matter the guy running the show.

Francois hasn’t played since completing just 47.2% of his passes while tossing an interception in a blowout loss to Clemson where the Seminoles scored just three points under his direction. Regardless, Francois still believes he’s the starting quarterback.

“I’m still the No. 1 guy,” Francois said on Tuesday. “Coach Taggart continues to make that clear, and James understands that. But James is always ready — always ready to go. If anything happens to me, God forbid, we’ve got a guy that can go in there and throw for 400 on any given day. It’s just nice to have two guys that can go in there and play — it’s a great situation.”

If Francois comes back on that field as the starter, is it time to question if Taggart ever truly opened the quarterback competition? Is this what Bailey Hockman saw coming?

At this point, it’s hard to argue that Francois gives FSU the best option to keep the bowl streak alive. Francois has thrown six of his seven interceptions in the Seminoles’ four losses that he appeared in. He also hasn’t had a quarterback ranking over 47 in a loss. His total QBR of 48.1 ranks No. 97 in the country.

At the risk of losing the support of this team and fanbase, will Taggart start Francois?

It’s going to be an interesting week.

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