Dalvin Cook is having a phenomenal season, but one of the biggest reasons why Florida Sate is having so much success offensively is the play of Everett Golson. Through six games, Golson has thrown for 1,449 yards and 11 touchdowns without an interception. He also has not fumbled once, a serious problem that plagued him at Notre Dame last season. So why has Golson had so much success at Florida State so far?
With the dynamic presence of Dalvin Cook on the field, Golson hasn’t been asked to do much on offense, which is a stark contrast from the last two years with Jameis Winston under center. In 2013, Jimbo Fisher tailored the offense to build around the strength of the downfield passing game. Kelvin Benjamin and Rashad Green had over 1,000 yards receiving and Winston won the Heisman due to the large numbers he put up. In 2014, the offense took a while to find its identity. The running game struggled at first and a lot was placed on Winston’s shoulders until they found a good balance later in the season.
In 2015, the offense combines the explosiveness of Dalvin Cook with the ability of Everett Golson to play smart football and to get the ball in the hands of the playmakers. Fisher hasn’t called for much downfield passing, but rather short, simple routes that his young receivers know well. He also has implemented motion and screen plays more into his offense to utilize the quickness and explosiveness of Bobo Wilson and Kermit Whitfield. Against Louisville, Whitfield had a career day mainly because he caught several screen passes that took advantage of his quickness and burst to get positive yardage.
Despite playing being a very raw and inexperienced offensive line, Golson has also made smart decisions to ensure ball security. When under pressure, he doesn’t try to force the ball downfield but rather floats it out of bounds or runs for a gain. There also aren’t too many throws he makes that should have been intercepted either. This is a major improvement from his junior year at Notre Dame.
In short, the main reason behind Everett Golson’s improved play is Jimbo Fisher. Despite an inexperienced offensive line and young receivers, Jimbo Fisher is making the most of Everett Golson’s abilities and has done a very nice job of building the offense around his strengths and taking away a lot of the deep passing elements we saw with Jameis Winston. Ultimately, this team’s ceiling depends on Golson’s ability to play smart football. We saw Golson implode last year, which ultimately led to his transfer, but perhaps Jimbo really is the quarterback guru that everyone proclaims him to be. Everett Golson is certainly not going to be a first rounder like each of his last three starters, but Jimbo’s work with Golson this season might be his greatest accomplishment yet.