FSU did not face many quality quarterbacks last year, a theme that should continue in 2014 for the Seminoles.
Last year, FSU faced NFL draftees in Pittsburgh’s Tom Savage (4th round) and Clemson’s Tajh Boyd (6th round) as well as multiyear starters like Miami’s Stephen Morris and Boston College’s Chase Rettig, but no signal caller truly struck fear into Seminoles.
Opponents had an average QB rating of 93.77 against FSU, the second lowest total in the nation. The Seminoles also led the country in interceptions (26). A ball hawking secondary filled with current pro players (Lamarcus Joyner, Terrence Brooks) and likely future first-round draft picks (Jalen Ramsey, P.J. Williams, Ronald Darby) obviously has a lot to do with that, but the Seminoles were helped in that Boyd was the only true elite college QB that they faced.
There will not be a player like Boyd, a Heisman Trophy candidate before he was shut down by FSU, on this year's schedule. The Seminoles will face just one player that finished last season as their respective team’s starter and none surpassed 2,000 passing yards, an indictment of the uncertainty many of FSU’s opponents face at the all-important QB position.
The average season-long stat line last year (or 2012 in the case of NC State transfer Jacoby Brissett and Notre Dame’s Everett Golson) for the 11 of the 12 projected starters on FSU’s schedule was: 71-of-117 (60%) for 788 passing yards, 4.5 TDs and 3.1 INTs. The average QB rating was 124.7. This does not account for projected Miami starter Kevin Olsen, a freshman.
Here is a ranking of the projected starting QBs on FSU’s schedule for this upcoming season:
12. Aaron Miller, Citadel
2013 stats: 37-of-71 for 407 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs; 51 carries for 196 rushing yards (3.84 YPC), 1 TD
The buzz: Although he has participated in 28 career games, Miller has never started a college contest. Miller struggled in his team’s spring game, finishing with 18 yards on nine carries, while completing just 1-of- 4 passes. Backup Cam Jackson should see regular reps as well.
*FSU hosts The Citadel Sept. 8
11. Tyler Cameron, Wake Forest
2013 stats: 7-of-24 (29.2%) for 85 passing yards, 0 TDs and 3 INTs; 9 carries for 19 yards (1.8 YPC), 0 TDs
The buzz: Cameron and quarterback turned receiver turned quarterback Kevin Sousa duked it out in the spring and neither really gained much separation. Can either pull away after a lackluster first half of the offseason?
*FSU hosts Wake Forest Oct. 4
10. Kevin Olsen, Miami
2013 stats: None
The buzz: Olsen struggled in the spring and will be pushed by senior transfer Jake Heaps. Olsen’s advantage is that he enters fall camp knowing some of the playbook, but Heaps’ experience could be what coach Al Golden is looking for after projected starter Ryan Williams was lost for the year with an ACL injury.
*FSU plays at Miami Nov. 15
9. Greyson Lambert, Virginia
2013 stats: 33-of-57 (44%) for 340 passing yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs; 9 carries for -55 yards
The buzz: David Watford was the starter last year, but threw nearly twice as many INTs (15) as he did TDs (8). So in steps Lambert, who has a decent arm. He also has the ability to grow into a leadership role and was clearly the best QB on the roster by the end of spring practice.
*FSU hosts Virginia Nov. 8
8. Will Gardner, Louisville
2013 stats: 8-of-12 (66.7%) for 112 passing yards, 2 TDs, 0 INTs; 5 carries for -7 yards
*FSU plays at Louisville Oct. 30
7. Tyler Murphy, Boston College
2013 stats: 112-of-185 (60.5%) for 1,216 passing yards, 6 TDs, 5 INTs; 61 carries for 61 yards (1.0 YPC), 3 TDs
The buzz: Murphy started half of the season for Florida last year after Jeff Driskel was lost for the year with a leg injury. The Gators lacked weapons around Murphy, who was efficient but not particularly explosive. He’ll be asked to do little more than manage games again after transferring to Boston College, although he lacks proven firepower around him.
*FSU hosts Boston College Nov. 22
6. Jacoby Brissett, NC State
2012 stats (transferred from Florida, sat out 2013): 23-of-35 (65.7 %), for 249 passing yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs; 7 carries for -4 yards, 1 TD
The buzz: Brissett never panned out at Florida after being beat out by Jeff Driskel. He is a big, athletic QB that was brought in to run the spread offense with the Gators. Coach Dave Doeren employs the Pistol offense, which should take advantage of Brissett’s ability to throw and run.
*FSU plays at NC State Sept. 27
5. Terrel Hunt, Syracuse
2013 stats: 167-of-273 (61.2%) for 1,638 passing yards 10 TDs and 8 INTs; 106 carries for 500 rushing yards (4.7 YPC) and 7 TDs
The buzz: An ideal compliment to Syracuse’s power-rushing attack, Hunt emerged as one of the top dual-threat QBs in the ACC as he started the final 10 games of the season.
*FSU plays at Syracuse Oct. 11
4. Jeff Driskel, Florida
Jr., 6-4, 240
2013 stats: 42-of-61 (68.9%) for 477 passing yards, 2 TDs to 3 INTs; 17 carries for 38 yards (2.2 YPC), 1 TD
The buzz: Driskel has all the physical tools to thrive but has yet to put it all together. He was having a lackluster start to his sophomore season before it was derailed by a leg injury. New coordinator Kurt Roper has successfully gotten the most of his QBs at Duke and could do the same with Driskel .
*FSU hosts Florida Nov. 29
3. Cole Stoudt, Clemson
2013 stats: 47-of-59 (79.7%), 415 passing yards, 5 TDs, 0 INTs; 14 carries, 58 rushing yards, 14 carries (4.1 YPC), 2 TDs
The buzz: Tajh Boyd is going to be tough to replace, but Stoudt has shown promise in limited opportunities. The strong-armed senior will be tested immediately again Georgia, so it should not take long to see what the Tigers have on hand. If Stoudt goes down or does not pan out, Clemson has little depth behind him.
*FSU hosts Clemson Sept. 20
2. Everett Golson, Notre Dame
2012 stats (suspended in 2013): 187-of-318 (58.8%) for 2,405 passing yards, 12 TDs, 6 INTs; 94 carries for 298 yards, 6 TDs
The buzz: Golson returns to Notre Dame after missing all of the 2013 season. The last time he took snaps for the Fighting Irish, Golson led his team to the national championship. He is not the most polished pocket passer, but is a heady player capable of stretching the field with his arm or legs.
*FSU hosts Notre Dame Oct. 18
1. J.W. Walsh, Oklahoma State
2013 stats: 113-of-190 (59.5%), 1,333 passing yards, 9 TDs, 5 INTs, 58 carries for 294 rushing yards (5.1 YPC), 3 TDs
The buzz: Walsh entered the spring in a position battle with junior Daxx Garman but has pulled away and should be the Cowboys’ starter in the season opener against FSU. He was benched last season after going 5-1 in as a starter in favor of the stronger-armed Clint Chelf. Walsh, a savvy dual-threat QB, is capable of effectively disturbing the ball in Oklahoma State’s offense (as he did in 2012), but needs to be more consistent in 2014.
*FSU plays Oklahoma State Aug. 30 in Arlington, Texas