Jimbo Fisher likes to say if your quarterback is tough, your team is tough.
Florida State, evidently, is pretty tough.
Quarterback Deondre Francois shook off a jarring blow to his shoulder that temporarily knocked him out of the game — and took plenty more hits after that — but still managed to lead FSU to a 20-19 victory over the University Miami on Saturday night before a raucous, sold-out Hard Rock Stadium.
(RELATED: Photos from FSU’s huge win over Miami)
Francois threw second-half touchdown passes of 59 yards to Dalvin Cook and 20 to Kermit Whitfield to rally FSU from a 13-0 deficit.
Francois supplied the grit.
Defensive end DeMarcus Walker supplied the wisdom.
It was Walker who nixed earlier plans to rush from the left on UM’s extra-point attempt with 1:38 remaining. Having sensed a weakness in UM’s special teams blocking from the defensive right side, Walker got the go-ahead from FSU coaches to give that a shot, and he ended up ending Michael Badgley’s streak of 72 consecutive extra points made.
In a series marked by last-minute kicks that sailed wide, Badgley saw his name join those ranks when his kick sputtered wide left for the final margin. UM had responded with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Brad Kaaya to Stacy Coley as everyone in the place was thinking overtime.
“It’s Florida State-Miami, isn’t it?” said FSU coach Jimbo Fisher, who has seen more than his share of wild drama in this series.
As competitive as these games tend to be, Florida State has now beaten Miami seven consecutive times.
“Another year to talk crap,” Walker said.
Francois can do his share of talking after going 20-of-31 for 234 yards. Indicative of the type of night he had, on his 59-yard TD throw, he was sandwiched by Demetrius Jackson and Pat Bethel so hard, his helmet was sent flying. At that point of the third quarter, ABC had scored it as seven knockdowns by the Canes on Francois.
Fisher was concerned about his quarterback as early as the final play of the first quarter, when he was nailed by Kendrick Norton and landed squarely on his right shoulder. A similar kind of hit by the Dolphins cost the Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garappolo.
So Fisher went up to Francois and asked what now? Can you go?
“He told me he could do everything,” Fisher said. “I said, ‘OK, we’ll see.’ ”
Actually, Fisher added, he wasn’t overly concerned by what Francois said, but how he said it.
“You can tell in his eyes,” Fisher said. “You look right in his eyes. If you’re in a fight with a guy, you read his eyes.”
This was a fight, and Francois wasn’t done swinging or flinging.
“I told him I’m good, ready to go,” Francois said. “I felt good. I mean, it didn’t matter if I felt good or not. That’s my team. I’m the quarterback of this team and they needed me, so I went back in the game.”
About the feeling good part … Francois admitted he was fibbing.
“I was in a bit of pain,” he said. “Miami got to me pretty good. They hit me a couple of times but pain or no pain — even with pain, I just blocked it out, focused on my job and did my job.”
It’s the kind of thing that earns respect from teammates.
“I told him that I’d go to war with him any day,” Cook said. “He can be my quarterback, in street ball, wherever we’re at, I will find him to play ball. That’s just the type of guy he is, the type of character he has and the type of person he is.”
The rest was up to Walker.
“Coach (Odell) Haggins wanted us to block it from the left and I looked and said, ‘No, let’s go right,’ ” Walker said. “You know what I’m saying? When coach trusts you and you make a good call, hey.”
It was especially meaningful to Walker in light of the past few days.
“I really did this for people back home in Jacksonville, Florida,” Cook said, referring to an area hit by Hurricane Matthew. “We got hit pretty hard. It was really taking a toll on my mind all game. I was so heartbroken with all the stuff that happened, the flood and everything. I really did it for them.”