FSU is a title contender with Everett Golson at QB
Had our college football grades been around for the 2013 season, chances are Jameis Winston would have been at or near the top of our quarterback rankings during his Heisman-winning redshirt freshman campaign for Florida State.
That wasn’t the case for his up-and-down 2014 campaign (our first season grading every player on every play of every college football game involving an FBS opponent), when Winston ranked just No. 29 overall in our grading system.
This isn’t meant as a Winston bashing session – in fact, our draft evaluation of him was rather optimistic for his pro prospects, and he’s flashed some promise this preseason for the Bucs – but rather to make the following point: FSU still has ACC and national title potential under new quarterback Everett Golson.
Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher named Golson his starting quarterback on Monday, and while there might be some skepticism about the QB following his roller-coaster career at Notre Dame (among the headlines: a national championship run as a redshirt freshman; a season-long suspension due to an academic violation; his being benched for last season’s bowl game in favor of freshman Malik Zaire; his offseason transfer to FSU), he actually compares pretty favorably to Winston based on their 2014 performances.
Golson ranked No. 36 in our QB grades, not far behind Winston’s No. 29, and his passing grade ranked No. 28 to Winston’s No. 24. When you dig into some of PFF’s signature stats, the case for Golson gets even more promising: He bested Winston in QB rating, accuracy percentage and deep passing (his deep-ball accuracy actually ranked him fifth in the nation).
One big area of concern for Golson is his performance under pressure, as he ranked No. 67 in the nation in that stat last season (Winston excelled, at No. 11 in the country), in large part due to the fact that the Noles are experiencing major turnover on their offensive line this season – including the departure of 2015 first-round pick Cameron Erving.
But as colleague Kevin Connaghan noted earlier this month, you can make the argument that in many ways Golson projects as a slightly more limited version of Winston — a talented QB with high upside prone to up-and-down performances on a week-to-week basis.
That makes Golson a step back from the 2015 No. 1-overall draft pick, but it also means FSU needs to be taken very seriously again as both an ACC and national championship contender. Golson has good — albeit inexperienced — talent around him, and the Noles have one of the more favorable schedules you’ll find among legitimate College Football Playoff contenders (a Nov. 7 road trip to Clemson stands out as their biggest test). Having Golson at QB keeps them right in the mix.