The Florida State spring game ended in a 24-all tie, showcasing some young talent with the potential to make an impact in 2016. Here are three observations from the game.
1. Deondre Francois, Malik Henry have major skills. While that statement could have been made based on their star rating out of high school, both made veteran plays during the spring game despite their youth. Francois, a redshirt freshman, took every snap for the Gold team and while he had a few miscues, he impressed enough to underscore the expectation that he seriously will challenge Sean Maguire for the starting job in fall camp. Francois showed off a strong arm and nice touch, threading passes into tight windows and putting a few others only where his receivers could get them. When he saw an opportunity, he scrambled for nice runs, too. Henry, an early enrollee, eventually supplanted J.J. Cosentino on the Garnet team and got better as the game wore on. It was fun watching Francois and Henry exchange touchdown passes late in the fourth quarter when given the opportunity to rally their teams.
"They were in charge and command of everything they did," Fisher said of the young quarterbacks. "There were not any poor decisions. They weren't careless with the ball as far as where they were going with it, making the right decisions. They had a chance to make plays and they made them."
Fisher said Maguire remains the No. 1 quarterback, but there is no doubt he will have to win the job once he returns.
2. Auden Tate could be the big body the receiver group needs. Auden Tate put together a solid spring, and he showed it to the 49,000 fans who watched at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla. Tate led all receivers with six catches for 100 yards, including an athletic touchdown catch in the corner of the end zone late in the game. On that play, Tate ran the wrong route but Francois was still able to adjust and go to him for the score.
“He was finding me places,” Tate said. “I got open, and he found ways to put it there.”
At 6-foot-5 and 218 pounds, Tate has Kelvin Benjamin size and is the type of receiver Florida State would love to utilize more to complement Travis Rudolph, Bobo Wilson and Kermit Whitfield this season. It should also be noted Tate was named one of Florida State’s most improved players on offense this spring.
3. Ro’Derrick Hoskins shines. Linebacker has been an area of emphasis this spring, considering the depth concerns and key players that must be replaced. But Hoskins showed that the group could be just fine once fall rolls around. Hoskins had one of the more impressive defensive performances, finishing with five tackles, a sack and an interception.
“He made some nice plays,” Fisher said. “As you saw last year, Ro’Derrick at times was our best player. He has a chance to be a really, really good player.”
Matthew Thomas, who goes into the year with high expectations, also had a sack.