Saturday morning the Bulls of South Florida University attempted to attack the Death Star AKA Doak Campbell Stadium. The main question concerning the 2015 ‘Noles was, “How would Everret Golson hold up against a more formidable opponent?” The answer to that question was not a desirable one if you’re an FSU fan.
Mario Pender knows this to be true in theory and practice. His Sunday morning rigor mortis bares the proof. Golson got Pender murdered. On a second quarter pass play, Mario was open in the flats as a check down. Instead of keeping the linebacker at bay by looking deep before checking down, Golson made him the primary read and pump faked to him in the flat. This drew the defender to Pender’s sector, full steam. Golson then looked down field, which would have been fine if a route was being run in the area the linebacker vacated, but there wasn't. When Golson looked back to Pender he watched him get devastated by a 230-pound kid running at top speed. Golson flailed the ball innocuously to the USF benches as Pender laid splattered on the Bobby Bowden field. This is no way for a new transfer QB to win over his new teammates.
Painful indecisiveness was the theme of the day for Golson. He routinely put route runners in precarious positions in lieu of open receivers. There was a third down throw to Dalvin Cook that sailed on him and resulted in a crunch. Travis Rudolph stood open near the sticks unselected. FSU would punt. Later Golson got blasted by Augie Sanchez on a roll out. Sanchez was booted for targeting and the penalty resulted in a first down. Nonetheless, Golson had a wide open Travis Rudolph but opted to target a receiver deeper down field. The throw was a wobbler that came apart at the end of its flight like a poorly constructed paper plane. Had he been able to take something off it and float it to Rudolp that play could have resulted in a first down with bonus penalty yardage. Too many times Golson failed to make the right read, in both post and pre-snap situations. This led to a meager 163 yards passing on 14 of 26 passes against a Conference USA opponent.
The takeaways were not all negative however, Golson’s best throw of the game was a back pylon laser to Mavin Saunders who was double covered. The ball levitated over both outstretched defenders into Saunders’ unwelcoming hands. While it was an incompletion, the throw showed the tantalizing potential that Golson has still not fully captured in his career.
Golson also found a nice rhythm after he got nailed by Sanchez. On the next play he ran a play action and rolled right. There was pressure from the Edge but LT Roderick Johnson stonewalled a defender in hot pursuit. Golson was given time to locate glue guy/FB Freddie Stevenson who scampered for a first down. Tyler Rudolph caught a nice throw for a First Down on the ensuing play and then Golson chased that with a Nice TD to an open Jesus Wilson who ran a brilliant skinny post that left his defender stuck to the floor. If there is any 'Nole that is familiar with the phrase "Touchdown Jesus" it's the former golden domer, Everett Golson. This theme will need to be transferred from ND to FSU with Golson for FSU to sniff the play-offs.
The biggest positive that came from Golson's performance is that he never turned the ball over. He was pressured, hit early and often, yet never gave the ball up and only really forced two passes into coverage. The first was the misread that resulted in a targeting call and a first down. The other was the hurl to Saunders in the back of the end zone, which careened off of his TE's hands with pinpoint precision. Golson’s biggest knock coming in was ball security and after two weeks he is yet to turn it over.
I would grade Golson incomplete at this point because his real test looms in Chestnut Hill this Friday night.