If Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher was hoping that Saturday’s Garnet and Gold game to end the spring would help the Seminoles sort out their search for a starting quarterback, Saturday’s game may have had just the opposite effect.
While redshirt junior Clint Trickett and redshirt sophomore Jacob Coker were thought to be the top candidates to assume the signal-caller position, redshirt freshman Jameis Winston sure made his case.
In a scrimmage where whistles are quick when defenders even get near a quarterback, one of his Winston’s biggest advantages, his athleticism, was taken away. Despite that, Winston showed that he could really throw the football. Winston finished the day 12-for-15 for 205 yards passing with a pair of touchdowns which included 58-yard bomb to David Tyrrell on his first throw of the day.
The Gold team would go on for a 40-24 victory, but both Trickett and Coker took snaps for both squads. Trickett finished the day a combined 22-for-32 for 259 yards with a touchdown toss and an interception. Coker combined to go 15-for-26 for 194 yards with a touchdown and a pair of interceptions.
While Winston clearly closed the gap with an outstanding performance, Trickett probably remains the front-runner heading into the fall. Trickett, son of offensive line coach Rick Trickett, appears to have a better grip of the offense and certainly looked better than Coker in the two-minute offense.
Winston was formerly the top high school quarterback recruit in the country and it is unlikely that he will be used solely as a backup this season. Considering Winston’s athleticism and Trickett’s lack of size, it’s hard to imagine Coach Fisher having no role for Winston in 2013.
All in all, Saturday was a great day for the FSU passing game. With a vanilla defensive look and three scholarship running backs held out, Florida State certainly took to the aerial assault and had to have liked what it saw.
Rashad Greene and Kenny Shaw, last year’s two leading receivers, each had double-digit catches and touchdowns on Saturday. Greene finished with 11 receptions for 120 yards for the Garnet squad while Shaw had a monster day with a dozen catches for 205 yards and a score for the Gold. Redshirt sophomore Kelvin Benjamin also had an outstanding day with eight receptions for 141 yards and a leaping touchdown in the back of the end zone from Trickett.
With Devonta Freeman, James Wilder Jr. and Mario Pender all out of action, projected starting fullback Chad Abram had to carry the load on the ground, but finished with just 43 yards on 13 carries for the Garnet team.
While the defensive numbers weren’t great on Saturday, there were some outstanding defensive performances particularly for the Gold team. Nile Lawrence-Stample had a great day with four tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. ACC Championship hero Karlos Williams, P.J. Williams and Lamarcus Brutus all recorded interceptions on Saturday.
For the most part, Fisher and the defending ACC champions end the spring with much to feel good about. The quarterback battle remains largely unsettled, but the receiving corps remains deep and talented even without key guys Greg Dent and Jarred Haggins in the lineup on Saturday.
While Florida State will be replacing a lot defensively, Saturday’s scrimmage should be little indication of the product that new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt will be able to put on the field. With the losses of three defensive ends likely to be taken in the NFL Draft, freshman Chris Casher made an impact with a sack on Saturday while Lawrence-Stample proved he could be an important fill-in on an already deep interior defensive front.
The regular season is less than five months away for the defending ACC champs. Florida State will open the 2013 season on Labor Day night at ACC newcomer Pittsburgh.
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