For the second time in two seasons, Syracuse's defense will be opposed by quarterback Everett Golson. In September 2014, when Golson played for Notre Dame, he went 32-of-39 for 362 yards and four touchdowns as the Fighting Irish topped the Orange, 31-15, on a Saturday night at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Now playing quarterback for Florida State, Everett Golson will look to repeat that performance when the Seminoles (6-1, 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) play host to the Orange on Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee. SU, meanwhile, will look to prevent him from having that type of success, which could prove to be a challenge.
“He’s a very talented, athletic young man,” Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer said on Wednesday’s ACC Coaches teleconference. “He has a big arm.”
Golson transferred from Notre Dame to Florida State in May and because of the NCAA's graduate transfer rule, he was able to play immediately. So far this season, he’s thrown for 1,659 yards in seven games and has tossed 11 touchdowns to only one interception.
That impressive touchdown-to-interception ratio is indicative of the style of football Golson plays. As a passer, he’s willing to simply take what the defense gives him. That means checking down to receivers when he can’t find anything downfield, throwing screen passes and hitting open receivers in the flat.
Against Syracuse last season, 17 of Golson’s passes were thrown and caught behind the line of scrimmage, including a 38-yard touchdown pass to Will Fuller in the second quarter of that game.
Golson has employed similar strategies this season with the Seminoles, even though he’s in a different offensive system. His best game this season came against Louisville two weeks ago, as he finished 26-of-38 for 372 yards and two touchdowns. Twelve of those completions occurred behind the line of scrimmage.
Syracuse, meanwhile, has struggled to defend those short passes. The Orange has especially had issues defending screen passes to running backs throughout the season. Additionally, SU often has its cornerbacks give cushions to wide receivers, which gives the opposing quarterback larger windows to complete short passes into. That’s something Golson will likely look to take advantage of.
And Golson isn’t only dangerous with his arm, something Syracuse defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough is aware of.
“We’re going to have to contain him when’s scrambling around,” Bullough said.
Golson hasn’t rushed for more than 14 yards in a game this season, but he’s still capable of using his legs to beat a defense. Specifically, when the pocket collapses on him, he has shown an ability to sidestep defenders and buy time with his legs before surveying the field and finding an open receiver.
If Syracuse can figure out a way to put pressure on Golson in the pocket and actually get to him, the Orange could have a chance to pull out a much-needed upset. If not, Golson will have the chance to terrorize Syracuse’s defense in the same manner that he did last season.
Syracuse and Florida State will kickoff at 12 p.m. tomorrow. As always, you can listen to live game action on 88.3 WAER-FM as the Orange look to get back to .500.