Q&A: What does Everett Golson's future hold at Florida State?
Everett Golson chose Florida State.
But will Jimbo Fisher choose Golson?
A day after the former Notre Dame quarterback announced his intentions to transfer and use his final season of eligibility at Florida State, it's time to analyze what kind of situation the 6-foot, 200-pound graduate transfer is stepping into. To do that, we spoke with Brendan Sonnone, Florida State football beat writer for the Orlando Sentinel, about Golson's chances of winning the starting job, the supporting cast that will surround him and how his acquisition changes the Seminoles' outlook in 2015.
Notre Dame Insider: How does adding Golson change the expectations surrounding Florida State’s 2015 season?
Brendan Sonnone: It’s tough to say one way or the other, because right now it’s unclear what they have planned for Golson. With him transferring in, you kind of assume that he’ll be the starter in 2015, but (head coach) Jimbo Fisher has been pretty clear that he’s not going to guarantee that to Golson. He’s got (redshirt junior quarterback) Sean Maguire in camp. He had an OK spring, though his spring game was pretty lackluster. But Jimbo Fisher was happy with Sean Maguire’s spring. So it’s unclear if Everett Golson is being brought in to be a guy just to push Sean Maguire or if he’s legitimately someone that the coaching staff thinks can elevate this team from a nine- or 10-win team to maybe an 11- or 12-win team. My take is that you don’t bring him in to sit the bench. I think you bring him in and give him an opportunity to win that starting job, even though he only has a couple months to earn it.
NDI: What did Florida State’s quarterback situation look like heading out of the spring? Was anyone pushing Maguire to start?
Sonnone: That’s one reason that Golson makes sense. This is someone to legitimately push Sean Maguire. Outside of Sean Maguire, no other quarterback on the roster has taken a snap in a college football game. De’Andre Johnson is a true freshman that enrolled for spring football and did pretty well in the spring, but he has a lot of room to grow. He’s a little bit undersized but was a prolific passer in the high school ranks. He had a really good spring game. But there was no one with experience to push Sean Maguire, and because of that, Sean had a much better grasp of the offense and the playbook than anyone else on the roster. It was kind of an iffy quarterback situation. It was Sean Maguire’s job to lose. But it didn’t seem like there was a whole lot of confidence in him, either. It was a quarterback battle, but it was really not even close. Certainly adding another guy to the mix in Golson can make it interesting.
NDI: Given what you know about Golson and what you’ve seen in Maguire, how hotly contested will the quarterback competition be this fall?
Sonnone: It’s too early to say that there’s a leader at this point. We don’t even know what Golson will look like in Jimbo Fisher’s offense, which is going to be very different than what Brian Kelly had at Notre Dame. I do think that Everett Golson is being brought in to push Sean Maguire and will be given every opportunity to push for the starting job. I think physically, he has more tools right now than Sean Maguire does. I think his arm strength is pretty good. I think he’s obviously more vocal, which is helpful when you look at how the team is currently comprised. Florida State has four new starters on the offensive line and a pretty good running back in Dalvin Cook. You’d think his athleticism could help beef up the run game and then help make up for some deficiencies that you’d expect from a new-look offensive line. That’s where Golson helps. I’m just not sure right now if it’s going to be a close competition, because we don’t know how quickly Golson is going to be able to learn Jimbo Fisher’s really complicated offense in the next two to three months.
NDI: Speaking of Fisher’s offense, how complex has his offense been in the past and how realistic do you think it is that Golson could come in this fall and be able to pick that up?
Sonnone: It’s going to be really difficult to learn it all in a short period of time. I will say that one of Jimbo Fisher’s strengths is that he’s adaptable to his quarterbacks. He knows their strengths and weaknesses and can tailor his philosophies to fit that. He has done that really well, whether it’s at LSU or Florida State. It is a really complex offense. It’s a pro-style offense in almost every sense, with some option things included. They’ll go pistol sometimes, but it’s a pro-style offense. Tampa Bay (Buccaneers) offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said the other day that Florida State was installing more stuff per day than Tampa Bay was, play-wise. I don’t know how much of that is true, but it seems that Florida State is at least comparable to what a lot of NFL teams are doing.
NDI: What has the response been to this news in Tallahassee and with the fan base?
Sonnone: It’s funny. The fan base is just so vocal anyways, as anyone who has ever had Twitter has brought up. When you have a vocal fan base, you have very different opinions. Some people think Everett Golson is being brought in, and they see all the turnovers from last year and don’t think he can help that much. Other people want to see what Jimbo Fisher can do. I do think there’s excitement. I think people are excited that there’s going to be some story lines and intrigue in fall camp. It’s not going to be boring, that’s for sure. But it’s a very split reaction so far. I think the overall perception is, ‘The more, the merrier.’ They know that the quarterback situation coming out of the spring was not anywhere close to what they had been used to the last couple years. It was an abnormal situation that they had with Jameis Winston. But they’re definitely, I think, excited with Everett Golson — cautiously optimistic, perhaps.
NDI: When Golson gets to Tallahassee, what kind of supporting cast is he going to find?
Sonnone: There’s four new offensive lineman. They lose (wide receiver) Rashad Greene. They lose (tight end) Nick O’Leary, and obviously, Jameis Winston. Karlos Williams was also a starter for half the season at running back. They lose almost their entire offense. With that being said, there’s some really interesting pieces in play. Dalvin Cook broke all kind of freshman records, and he wasn’t even the starter until midway through the year. So he was prolific. He’s going to make life a lot easier for whoever the quarterback is. You have basically a new offensive line. They bring back Roderick Johnson, who was really good as a true freshman at left tackle last year. He’s the only returning starter. But they have a couple guys who are juco transfers, who redshirted last year, that are pretty good. They feel pretty good about the new offensive line, even though there’s not a lot of experience. As far as wide receivers, they have a couple guys coming back — Travis Rudolph and Ermon Lane, who got a lot of playing time last year as a true freshman. There’s a lot of question marks, but there’s also a lot of talent, kind of like with Everett Golson.
NDI: Do you think Golson’s arrival will cause conflicts within the roster?
Sonnone: It’s tough to tell until it actually happens. I will say this: I think typically players know, maybe even better than coaches, who their really good players are. They know who the guys they can rely on are. If Everett Golson comes in and does well right away and starts earning that trust gradually and progresses towards that, I think they’re going to buy into it pretty quickly. Obviously, Sean Maguire is going to have to deal with that. But he’s a guy that has always been more or less bulletproof. Every other quarterback who was there during Jameis Winston’s tenure transferred. He’s the only one that came in with Jameis that stayed. So I think that says a lot about Sean Maguire’s maturity. He’s willing to push and keep fighting for it. There might be some hurt feelings there, not just with Sean but some of the other quarterbacks. You might lose reps in practice. But overall, I think the team is going to be pretty responsive if they think he can help get them where they want to be.