July 28, 2013
FSU's 2013 football season officially kicks off Tuesday, Aug. 6 when the team holds its first practice of fall camp. In preparation for the start of the new season, Seminoles.com will roll out position-by-position previews daily for the next 10 days. It all gets started with today's look at the quarterbacks, followed by the defensive tackles (Mon., July 29), running backs (Tues., July 30), linebackers (Wed., July 31), tight ends (Thurs., Aug. 1), defensive ends (Fri., Aug. 2), offensive linemen (Sat., Aug. 3), defensive backs (Sun., Aug. 4), wide receivers (Mon., Aug. 5) and finally special teams (Tues., Aug. 6).
The combined experience that can only come from 60 games worth of appearances under center is no longer on the roster with>EJ Manuel's first-round NFL Draft selection and>Clint Trickett's decision to transfer to West Virginia. So what are the Seminoles left with at quarterback?
A whole lot of inexperience. But a whole lot of excitement.
For the first time since Drew Weatherford, Christian Ponder and Xavier Lee were all on the roster together, the quarterback competition is the most talked-about topic surrounding Florida State as it enters a new football season.
Ponder and Manuel were known commodities and set-in-stone starters entering the season the last few years. Bit this year, the identity of the 'Noles' starting quarterback may not be known until the first game of the season. Will it be the two-sport star>Jameis Winston or the big-armed>Jacob Coker? Ultimately, Jimbo Fisher will make that decision based on how the month of August plays out.
"I'm very proud of where those guys are," Fisher said at the 2013 ACC Football Kickoff event. "I think they both have a great knowledge of our offense, I think they both understand what they are capable of physically and now the thing is, can you do it consistently? And that's what I want to wait and see. I want to see how they handle fall camp."
Winston enters his second fall in an FSU uniform with the most hype among the Seminoles' quarteret of quarterback on a depth chart that also includes fellow redshirt freshman>Sean Maguire and true freshman>John Franklin III. The Hueytown, Ala. native came to Tallahassee with the hype created by his five-star recruiting ranking but the last 365-plus days since he first arrived on campus have done nothing to limit the weight of the expectations that seem to get heavier and heavier on his shoulders with each passing day.
After a successful redshirt season in which he watched and learned from the sidelines under the tutelage of Fisher and Manuel, Winston successfully orchestrated a spring that saw him perform well at football practices and on the baseball field. When he wasn't competing on the gridiron and tossing a touchdown on his first pass of the spring game, he was throwing out runners from the outfield and hurling 90-plus miles-per-hour fastballs.
There's a reason why many fans -- and the national media -- have already etched Winston's name in permanent marker atop the depth chart at quarterback; he's done nothing since arriving at FSU to halt the hype.
But Coker may have something to say about how that depth chart plays out, too.
Limited by a foot injury that kept him far from 100 percent throughout the spring, Coker has been blessed with size and arm strength that any quarterback would dream of having at their disposal. He's also been in the offensive system a full year longer than Winston.
Can Coker or Winston lead scoring drives and put the offense in the best possible position to change the scoreboard? Which one can best avoid turnovers and has a display the necessary understanding of what the defense is doing in order to keep them out of the endzone?
These are just a few of the starting-job defining characteristics that Fisher will be scrutinizing when camp starts Aug. 6.
"You won't have to have a date," Fisher said, when asked about when he'd like to establish a starter. "They'll know."