Jimbo Fisher knows he'll have this conversation at least a few times each year. That doesn't make it any easier.
The 51-year-old has been on the sidelines for nearly 30 years, including the last eight as Florida State head coach. He's seen dozens — if not hundreds — of players suffer season-ending injuries. Torn ACLs, broken legs, concussions. While he's never seen a torn patellar tendon like quarterback Deondre Francois suffered late in their Week 1 loss to Alabama, the type of injury is hardly relevant, at least in terms of the difficulty of breaking the news to the player.
"He's very disappointed," Fisher told reporters on Tuesday, describing the conversation. "Deondre is a guy . . . not only does he want to play, but he wants to be there with his teammates."
It's the second-straight season the Seminoles have lost one of their best players in September. Safety Derwin James suffered a knee injury against Charleston Southern in Week 2 last year, and though it didn't come with a season-ending designation, the recovery timetable made it unlikely he would return, which he did not.
"I told [Francois] this is part of ball," Fisher added. "These things happen. And you have to deal with it and be mentally strong for them. Just like Derwin went through a tough thing a year ago. And that's all part of it, how you handle it and what you deal with, and try to explain it to him. But he's down not just for himself, but for his teammates, because he wants to be there with his teammates."
James echoed the sentiment, saying he told Francois, “Take it day by day. There are going to be a lot of hard days. Remember to stay humble. Just really be a leader off the field and show you care about the team and the guys.”
Francois' absence thrusts true freshman James Blackman — whom Fisher called "very strong-willed, very independent, confident" — into the starting role. He'll be under center when Florida State hosts Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday.