With the news Tuesday that Everett Golson is joining Florida State, the question becomes: How much better are the Seminoles with the Notre Dame transfer? Florida State is reeling from the turnover that affects every program, but will Golson help make up for the losses?
Jimbo Fisher voiced his concern about the new playoff system creating unrealistic annual expectations for the top-tier programs, but in this new era of playoff appearances will be the new measure when evaluating coaches and programs.
With that said, does Golson make Florida State a contender? ACC writers Andrea Adelson and Jared Shanker debate.
Shanker says Florida State is a contender.
Regardless of who plays quarterback, the Seminoles will not be anywhere near as good in 2015 as they have been the past three seasons. Florida State has lost 29 players to the NFL draft the past three seasons, including the No. 1 pick (Jameis Winston) in the most recent draft. The starting lineup on both sides will be unrecognizable come September.
It is very unlikely the Seminoles make the playoffs.
But are they at least a contender? How often do we joke that despite all the preseason polls and predictions and analytics, we still have no clue as to what will happen each Saturday? That’s why we’re drawn to college football.
Yet we want to write off a team -- despite its obvious holes -- that just signed a player with 23 starts, almost 6,000 passing yards and 41 touchdowns?
If Golson plays up to the standard he set early in 2014, then Florida State is worthy of being considered a fringe contender. It should be on the playoff periphery to start the season, because it can still win the ACC.
For all the progress the ACC has made, and it’s a far better conference than most would care to admit, it still is waiting for a handful of teams to make a jump into the conference’s top tier. Florida State might be down, but is there a team in the conference able to take advantage?
Clemson is an elite program loaded with talent but tasked this season with replacing its three best defensive players and has a quarterback unable to practice due to an ACL tear. Louisville lost 10 players to the draft, second to only Florida State’s 11. The conference’s best team might be Georgia Tech.
The nonconference schedule is a yawner, so it’s fitting one of the Seminoles’ games actually starts in the morning. The Seminoles’ three toughest games are at Clemson, at Georgia Tech and at home against NC State. If they beat Clemson and NC State, those could be two Top 25 wins by season’s end and almost certainly gives them the Atlantic. Avenge a loss in the ACC championship against the Yellow Jackets, and with the right amount of dominoes falling around Florida State, a one-loss Florida State will garner playoff consideration.
There are no guarantees Golson is a better fit than Sean Maguire. The redshirt junior Maguire understands the offense and has the arm strength most signal-callers covet. Golson is the more physically talented player, though, and if the belief is he will have a smooth transition into Fisher’s offense -- Golson’s football acuity will be tested -- he likely gives Florida State the best chance to win. And then those perceived losses on the schedule don’t look so definite.
There are not always going to be four easily identifiable playoff teams. It’s hard to envision at any point Florida State being one of the four best teams, but if 2015 is one of those years without a clear delineation between playoff-worthy teams and the rest, Florida State will at least have its name tossed around if it wins the conference.
That clears the contender threshold. Now, don’t ask me whether I’d wager any money on the Seminoles, AA.
Adelson calls the Seminoles pretenders.
If Florida State was one player away from competing for a third straight national championship run, then the addition of Everett Golson would catapult the Seminoles into the College Football Playoff conversation.
Unfortunately, the Seminoles must replace more than Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston. That is only one reason among several why signing Golson won’t change Florida State’s fortunes much this season.
To start, Florida State must replace seven starters on offense. Dalvin Cook is a menace in the backfield, but here is what will impact Golson more: four new starters on the offensive line and no proven go-to receiver (or tight end, for that matter).
That receiver group drew Fisher’s ire at various points during the spring because it was too inconsistent. It also is an inescapable fact that Golson was sacked 27 times last year, and that should be cause for concern.
Golson simply will not have the same supporting cast Winston did a year ago. That leads to the next issue: turnovers. Golson had 22 a year ago -- 14 interceptions (four were returned for touchdowns) and eight lost fumbles. Winston had his fair share -- 20 to be exact. But Winston had an ability to make big plays almost as soon as he made his mistakes, rallying Florida State to one comeback victory after another.
Essentially, Florida State and Winston were talented enough to overcome just about all those errors, until they ran into Oregon. But that might not be the case in 2015, especially at the start of the season. Very few teams are built to withstand 20-plus turnovers from its quarterback. Notre Dame, with Golson last year, ended up going 8-5. In all, seven quarterbacks had 20 or more turnovers last year. Only Winston led his team to double-digit wins.
Finally, Golson will have a small window in which to learn the playbook and beat Maguire for the starting job. Tampa Bay Bucs offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter told reporters at rookie camp earlier this month that “Florida State was probably installing more stuff per day [this spring] than we do.”
To be sure, Fisher will call plays that only Golson can handle, but he will expect his quarterback to take a deep dive into the playbook and know its ins and outs, the same expectations he has for the other quarterbacks on his roster.
Golson has dealt with similar expectations from Brian Kelly, another demanding, offensive-minded head coach. But Golson was a redshirt freshman when he started his first game for the Irish. While he has game experience now, he will have been in the Florida State system for three months before opening day, with more pressure on him to succeed immediately and take the Noles back to the playoffs.
The schedule sets up nicely for that to happen, but there are too many holes around him for Golson to make that happen.