For FSU, All Eyes Now Shift To Alabama

FSU closed out its spring practice season on Saturday. Now the attention of the Seminoles turns to the 2017 opener against Alabama.

It’s all about Alabama now.

Florida State closed out its spring practice season on Saturday with its annual spring game in Tallahassee, where coaches and players were going through early preparations for the 2017 college football season. The season opens for the Seminoles with a date against Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide on Saturday, September 2, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA. It will be the first football game played at the brand-new complex, and it will be a chance for Jimbo Fisher’s Seminoles to show the college football world that they are ready to reclaim ACC supremacy and compete for a College Football Playoff berth.

A lot of the team’s fortunes this coming fall will rest on the arm of quarterback Deondre Francois, who threw for 3,350 yards during his redshirt freshman season last year. Fisher said this spring that he continues to evolve and improve after tossing 20 touchdowns against just seven interceptions while completing 58.8 percent of his throws during FSU’s 10-3 season, which concluded with a 33-32 victory over Michigan in the Orange Bowl.

Francois was one of the toughest signal-callers in the country last year, often being battered behind an offensive line that was underwhelming. The performance of that unit wasn’t strong in this past weekend’s spring game, either, but Fisher was not worried about it when he met with the media afterward. FSU was unable to play its first-team offensive line, which was to blame for the 12 sacks allowed in the final box score.

Operating behind a line that needs to play much better in 2017, Francois was 13-of-28 passing for 133 yards on Saturday, but he was working with a banged-up receiver corps that featured just two healthy scholarship pass-catchers. Francois didn’t get to work with top target Nyqwan Murray either, and Fisher noted that the QB’s interception was due to a receiver running a bad route.

So there remains a lot of work to do before the season-opening showdown with Alabama. The ‘Noles will look to become much sharper in preseason camp because they will immediately find out where they stand in relation to one of the sport’s annual national title contenders, who will be looking to put behind their loss to Clemson in their CFP title game rematch.

Fisher said in March that he would not set aside any spring practice time for ‘Bama preparations. With spring ball coming to an end, it’s all about ‘Bama now. Coaches, players, fans and anyone else associated with or close to the FSU program will be thinking about the Crimson Tide all summer long. Because even though Saban and Co. are not the defending national champions, the Crimson Tide are the only team to make each one of the three College Football Playoff events. And it’s a streak that they expect to continue in the upcoming season.

Two-time defending ACC champion Clemson remains the team to beat for Fisher and Co. in their own league. But for the next 20 weeks or so, FSU—and its 17 returning starters—will have an Alabama obsession.

MORE: Texas A&M Adds Ex-OU OT Christian Daimler As Grad Transfer