Florida State Football: Top 5 Quarterbacks That 'Noles Will Face in 2014

Bob FerranteContributor IJuly 3, 2014

Notre Dame dual-threat QB Everett Golson is the toughest passer that FSU will see in 2014.
Notre Dame dual-threat QB Everett Golson is the toughest passer that FSU will see in 2014.Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida State football team will face 12 teams that have good—but not elite—quarterbacks.

Every opposing quarterback on the schedule, even the ones in our top five, has a question mark. That includes the No. 1 choice, Notre Dame's Everett Golson, who isn't the most accurate passer (58.8 percent in 2012) and didn't play a snap in 2013.

For teams looking to try and upset FSU, this is bad news. The Seminoles are the defending champs, and the target on their backs is unmistakable. But FSU had the nation's No. 1 pass defense in 2013, allowing just 156 yards per game. And the Seminoles return a loaded secondary led by cornerbacks Ronald Darby and P.J. Williams and safeties Jalen Ramsey and Nate Andrews.

All of the quarterbacks have a strong supporting cast of playmakers around them. Here's a look at the top five quarterbacks that FSU will see in 2014.

 

5. Jake Heaps or Ryan Williams (Miami)

Orlin Wagner/Associated Press

2013 stats: Ryan Williams: 22-of-32 for 369 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception. Heaps: 128-of-261 for 1,414 yards, 8 touchdowns, 10 interceptions (at Kansas).

Williams was having a strong spring until he tore the ACL in his right knee and had surgery. While it's not known when he may be able to return, he told the Miami Herald that he has had no setbacks in his recovery and hopes to be the starter going into the season. 

Heaps adds drama to the quarterback competition. The former Kansas quarterback, who graduated and is eligible to start for Miami immediately, completed just 49 percent of his passes last year. He has had an up-and-down college career, and The Palm Beach Post's Matt Porter analyzed his hit-and-miss performance against Kansas State in 2013.

It's possible Miami could start both Williams and Heaps in 2014. But either quarterback, along with tailback Duke Johnson and receiver Stacy Coley, could make for a dynamic offense when FSU visits Miami on Nov. 15.

 

4. Jeff Driskel (Florida)

GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 21:  Quarterback Jeff Driskel #6 of the Florida Gators warmsup for play against the Tennessee Volunteers September 21, 2013 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

2013 stats: 42-of-61 for 477 yards, 2 touchdowns, 3 interceptions.

There are many knocks on Driskel, the most notable being his alarming number of turnovers. He has thrown just 14 career touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. But he's also been less than productive: He tossed 12 TD passes in 12 starts in 2012.

Driskel played in just three games in 2013 before breaking his leg against Tennessee on Sept. 21. But offensive coordinator Brent Pease is gone and coach Will Muschamp hired Kurt Roper, a former Duke offensive coordinator, who has installed a spread offense in Gainesville.

That offense should suit Driskel's talents better, according to Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee. Florida isn't deep at receiver, but Quinton Dunbar caught 40 passes for 548 yards (albeit without a touchdown) and Andre Debose is back for a sixth season after missing 2013 with injury. If healthy, Driskel and Co. will provide a much tougher challenge when the Gators play at FSU on Nov. 29.

 

3. J.W. Walsh (Oklahoma State)

STILLWATER, OK - OCTOBER 5:   Quarterback J.W. Walsh #4 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys looks to throw against the Kansas State Wildcats October 5, 2013 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The Cowboys defeated the Wildcats 33-29.  (Photo by Br
Brett Deering/Getty Images

2013 stats: 113-of-190 for 1,333 yards, 9 touchdowns, 5 interceptions.

Walsh hasn't won the starting job going into preseason practice, although Jake Trotter of ESPN.com writes that he appears to be the front-runner to start on Aug. 30 against FSU in Arlington, Texas. He will compete into August with Daxx Garman and Mason Rudolph.

Walsh has the ability to beat defenses with his arm and feet. He threw for 135 yards and ran for 125 yards and a touchdown in a win over Mississippi State. He also had 326 passing yards in a win over Texas-San Antonio and 322 passing yards in a loss at West Virginia.

 

2. Cole Stoudt (Clemson)

CLEMSON, SC - SEPTEMBER 7: Cole Stoudt #18 of the Clemson Tigers drops back for a pass during the game against the South Carolina State Bulldogs at Memorial Stadium on September 7, 2013 in Clemson, South Carolina. (Photo by Tyler Smith/Getty Images)
Tyler Smith/Getty Images

2013 stats: 47-of-59 for 415 yards, 5 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, 2 rushing TDs.

Stoudt played mostly in mop-up situations as a backup to Tajh Boyd. But Stoudt is a senior with experience (287 college plays), and he's thrown just one interception. He has completed 72.3 percent of his passes, and coupled with the lack of mistakes, he should be an efficient quarterback despite being a first-time starter.

The 6'4'', 210-pounder won't be able to throw to Sammy Watkins (a first-round pick of the Buffalo Bills), but Clemson has enough speed and talent at receiver, led by senior Adam Humphries (41 receptions, 483 yards, two touchdowns). This is a different Clemson team but not one that FSU will overlook when the teams face off in Tallahassee on Sept. 20. 

 

1. Everett Golson (Notre Dame)

Apr 12, 2014; Notre Dame, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Everett Golson (5) runs with the ball to score a touchdown in the second quarter of the Blue-Gold game at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

2012 stats: 187-of-318 for 2,405 yards, 12 touchdowns, 6 interceptions.

Golson is a dangerous dual-threat quarterback. He may be rusty early in the season after not playing in 2013 due to academic issues, but he should be warmed up by the time Notre Dame travels to Tallahassee on Oct. 18.

Mobile quarterbacks have had more success (relatively speaking) than dropback passers against FSU in recent years. Auburn's Nick Marshall threw for 217 yards and had two passing touchdowns and one rushing score against FSU (although he completed just 14 of 27 passes). Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas threw for 298 yards with a TD pass and TD run (along with two interceptions) in 2012. Both, of course, were FSU wins.

Golson is the most talented run-pass quarterback on FSU's schedule, although he's clearly not the best pure passer. One advantage: Notre Dame will employ a fast-paced offense. Still, Notre Dame has a deep receiving corps, led by DaVaris Daniels (49 receptions, 745 yards and 7 TDs).  

 

Bob Ferrante is the Florida State Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Stats and bio information courtesy of NCAA.com and school websites. Follow Bob on Twitter.