Golson throws four TDs in debut with Florida State

fsu-golsonhuddleMyrtle Beach native Everett Golson looks right at home in Doak Campbell Stadium.

Florida State’s new starting quarterback had a sharp, efficient debut with the Seminoles, and sophomore running back Dalvin Cook picked up right where left off last season as the Seminoles rolled to a 59-16 victory over Texas State.

FSU is 1-0 for the sixth time in as many seasons under coach Jimbo Fisher.

After a run-heavy first half, Golson and the passing game opened up in the third and fourth quarters. The former Notre Dame star finished with 302 yards, four touchdowns and no turnovers before giving way to backup Sean Maguire late in the fourth quarter.

“He reminded me of Jameis (Winston),” junior receiver Bobo Wilson said. “He made some really good throws.”

That’s an awfully high standard, but, for at least a night, Golson led a smooth transition from the Winston era.

Teammates said Golson made proper checks at the line, read the defense properly and – most importantly – took good care of the ball.

Golson’s arm talent was on full display, too. He was near perfect on a throw between two defenders that landed square in Ja’Vonn Harrison’s chest for a 22-yard gain over the middle of the field.

And he floated a pretty pass to the back of the end zone that tight end Ryan Izzo caught for a touchdown that gave FSU a 35-10 lead and all but put the game away.

“In practice, (Golson) makes it look easy,” Izzo said. “He does this every day. Seeing it out there, I was just kind of used to it.”

Cook, meanwhile, helped the Seminoles keep the Bobcats (0-1) at a distance in the early goings.

Behind four new starters on the offensive line, Cook rushed for 156 yards (122 by halftime) and two touchdowns while averaging more than eight yards per carry. He became the first Seminole to reach the 100-yard mark in four straight games since Greg Jones in 2001-02.

“I knew Dalvin was going to make some magic out there,” junior defensive end DeMarcus Walker said.

And redshirt junior Mario Pender proved a perfect balance for Cook, posting 92 yards and a TD of his own.

Florida State went to halftime with 23 rush attempts while throwing the ball just nine times. But by the time the clock hit zero, the Seminoles had achieved a near perfect offensive balance.

FSU’s 370 passing yards and 266 rushing yards added up to its highest offensive output (636 yards) since beating Idaho in 2013.

That’s due in large part to Fisher unleashing Golson in the second half.

Golson went in to halftime having thrown only nine passes. He then went 9 for 13 for 149 yards and two touchdowns in the third quarter alone. Each of Golson’s four TDs came in the third and fourth quarters, and all were thrown to a different receiver.

“We know we loosened up,” Fisher said. “The receivers got comfortable in what we were doing and it come out.”

Golson’s  last touchdown, a 55-yarder to a wide-open Harrison, was his easiest of the night.

“He threw the ball nicely,” Fisher said. “It was crisp, sharp, ball came out of his hands very well. He was precise in his decisions tonight. That’s what I liked.”

All told, Golson completed passes to nine different targets. Sophomore Travis Rudolph led the way with 44 yards and a TD on four catches. Junior Bobo Wilson (3-53, TD) and Harrison (2-77, TD) had strong outings as well.

On the other side, FSU’s defense kept the Bobcats mostly under wraps.

Texas State didn’t cross the 200-yard threshold until the fourth quarter – after subbing in quarterback Connor White for start Connor Jones – and went nearly 35 minutes between scores.

FSU’s defenders set an early tone with a fast, physical first possession that they believe changed the way the Bobcats played.

“If you strike somebody, trust me, they’re scared,” junior defensive end DeMarcus Walker said. “We could just tell we were putting fear into those guys.”

Still, the Seminoles left Saturday’s game with plenty of room to grow, especially on special teams.

FSU’s specialists struggled across the board Saturday night. New punt returner Marquez White muffed one punt that led to a TSU touchdown, and he failed to catch another that gave the FSU offense poor field position.

White’s replacement, Rudolph, muffed his attempt, too. Finally, Fisher sent Wilson back deep to settle things down.

“It’s nothing serious, you’ve just got to get underneath the ball,” Wilson said. “Keep your eyes on the ball.”

Even the Seminoles’ normally steady kicking game suffered some early-season missteps. Cason Beatty’s first punt travelled just 26 yards (he later hit a long of 44), and All-America kicker Roberto Aguayo sailed two kickoffs out of bounds.

Texas State also caught the Seminoles off-guard with a fake punt that led to a field goal.

“We’ve got to get those things fixed because …  we need (special teams) to be a strength,” Fisher said. “Have to get those things ironed out quickly.”

Especially because, after a late start on Saturday (kickoff was delayed about an hour by lightning), the Seminoles’ next game comes early.

FSU hosts South Florida, a 51-3 winner over Florida A&M on Saturday, at 11:30 a.m. on Sept. 12

“There’s a lot of work to be done, but you can see the potential for this football team,” Fisher said. “If it will keep its nose down and worry about the process of getting better, I think we have chance to be a good football team.”

Photo courtesy of FSU Athletics

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