Everett Golson’s Florida State teammates started noticing something different about their quarterback in recent practices.
Suddenly, things started clicking. Wiped from his mental hard drive were the formations and checks learned from three seasons at Notre Dame. Uploaded and saved was Jimbo Fisher’s complex system.
“He knows the playbook now,” wide receiver Jesus Wilson said. “The chemistry … everything is smooth. At first he was kind of hesitant, but now since he knows the playbook we should be good.”
Golson makes his Florida State debut Saturday night in the season opener against Texas State at Doak Campbell Stadium (8 p.m., ESPNews). The graduate transfer from Notre Dame will lead an offense in which he is the lone senior on the two-deep depth chart and one that had Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 draft pick Jameis Winston behind center the past two seasons.
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But nobody is looking at Golson as a newcomer when it comes to experience. He brings with him 25 starts, including the 2012 national championship game, 5,850 passing yards and 41 touchdown passes as a member of the Irish.
“I’ve heard a lot of people talk about the complexities of Jimbo’s offense,” Texas State coach Dennis Franchione said. “That sometimes can be a challenge for any quarterback coming in in that setting. But he’s been back there for a lot of snaps in college football games. It’s not like a rookie is starting.”
Franchione’s school will cash a check for $950,000 to help No. 10 Florida State ease its way into the 2015 season. Texas State is coming off a 7-5 season and is picked to finish in the middle of the pack in the Sun Belt Conference.
“We’re not quite playing the New England Patriots but sometimes it feels a little bit close to it,” Franchione said.
Seminoles running back Mario Pender says Golson’s comfort level has skyrocketed since the start of camp.
“I respect him a lot for being able to pick up the offense that fast and be ready to go,” Pender said.
Although the Seminoles won’t resemble Georgia Tech’s triple option, Golson brings athleticism to the position, allowing Fisher to be more creative.
Golson can run. But Fisher is stressing that he can throw the ball, too.
“He’s going to make big plays,” Fisher said. “He can throw the ball down the field, make great plays with his legs when he has too. But one of the things I’m very happy with is throwing the ball in the pocket.”
Still, the Seminoles are eager to see how a dual-threat quarterback can enhance their offense.
“You can tell he has a feel for running,” Pender said. “He’s a good scrambling quarterback once he tucks the ball and gets ready to run. I’ve seen him put a lot of moves on a lot of people out there in practice. You know he definitely has a knack for that.”
And if Golson and the rest of the offense needs time to jell, the Seminoles believe the defense is ready to put behind a disappointing 2014 season.
“Guys have really put their stamp on this team,” Fisher said. “There’s young guys that have taken advantage of opportunities. I’m very pleased where we are.”
Saturday: Texas State at No. 10 FSU
▪ Kickoff: 8 p.m.; Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee.
▪ TV/radio: ESPNews; WFTL 850.
▪ Favorite: FSU by 29.
▪ Series: First meeting.
▪ FSU injuries: Questionable — WR Raphael Andrades (leg); WR Valdez Showers (leg). Doubtful — DB Keanu Neal (leg). Out — DB Kylan Johnson (leg); OL Martin Ivey (knee).
▪ Texas State injuries: Questionable — OL Jackson Hoskins (knee). Out — WR Brice Gunter (ACL).