Working within the parameters of the Southeastern Conference’s graduate transfer rule, Everett Golson will join the Seminoles for the 2015 football season and have a shot at landing a starting role on the team, which finished last season ranked No. 5 in the Associated Press top 25; the Irish fell out of the rankings after Week 12.
The 22-year-old will have the task of filling the shoes of Jameis Winston. Winston, who won the Heisman Trophy in 2013 (the youngest player to ever do it) and a national championship a few weeks later. He was a finalist for the Heisman the following season and finished with a 26-1 record as the starting quarterback.
There’s no denying that Winston was a better player under center last season. Both appeared in 13 games, and Winston posted a higher completion percentage and Total Quarterback Rating, while throwing 462 yards more than Golson. However, both were turnover prone, accounting for a combined 32 interceptions and 19 fumbles.
Golson regressed in quarterback rating and completion percentage as the season dragged on—though he did throw for 1,359 yards in November, alone—but he was plenty serviceable against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents. It’s worth noting that one of his three worst performances from a season ago came against Jimbo Fisher’s squad: Golson finished below his season average in completion percentage, threw two interceptions, and had a quarterback rating of 121.5. He finished with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions against ACC opponents, though four interceptions came against FSU. His completion percentage against the conference was 65.4 percent, a figure that would’ve finished tied for No. 17 in the country, which was 5.4 percent higher than his season average.
If the data suggests anything, the Golson-FSU partnership could be a great fit for both parties. Although he hasn’t won the starting nod yet, we’ll operate under the assumption that he will to see how comfortable the fit would be.
There’s comparability when it comes to the schools’ offensive systems relative last season. Florida State and Notre Dame had passing attacks that finished in the top 20, averaging between 285-303 passing yards per game. They had upper-tier total offenses that finished No. 31 (Notre Dame) and No. 36 (Florida State) respectively, averaging well over 430 total yards per game, with both teams calling between 71-75 offensive plays per game. Both teams held possession of the ball an average of 29 minutes per game, and attempted a similar number of passes, too.
Golson’s propensity to idle in the pocket will need some development. He is leaving an often-undersized offensive line that was respectable but not noteworthy last season when it came to adjusted sack rate (130.7, No. 30), and is joining an offensive line that ranked in the uppermost tier in the metric (167.5, No. 9). Essentially, he’ll be under center behind a fortress of NFL-ready bodies.
Florida State is bringing in someone who doesn’t know their system but who has operated under a familiar blueprint, someone who ran a similar number of plays and held possession for a similar amount of time. Golson might not be the starting quarterback when the Seminoles open their season against Texas State, but they’ll have a battle on their hands when it comes to Winston’s replacement.
Josh Planos has been published at the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, the Guardian, the Pacific Standard and VICE, among other publications. He has been heard on CBS Sports Radio, Fox Sports Radio and ESPN Radio. Planos is currently a Digital Editor at KETV NewsWatch 7 and a freelance writer.