Sean Maguire is the right quarterback to lead Florida State’s offense next weekend against Clemson, no disrespect intended to Everett Golson. Maguire earned the right on Saturday, leading Florida State in a blowout 45-21 win against Syracuse.
During the game he showed off excellent accuracy and instincts for the big play — an aspect of the offense that has been missing most of the year with Everett Golson as the team’s starter.
Let’s start out by acknowledging the Orange as a mediocre team at stopping the pass. Ranking No. 92 in the nation in terms of passing yards allowed per game (250.3), Syracuse doesn’t feature a shut-down secondary. However, the Orange have been successful at keeping teams from scoring through the air, ranking No. 25 in the nation in touchdowns against (8).
Essentially, defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough runs a bend-but-don’t-break defense. Unfortunately, Florida State’s offense broke it on Saturday, scoring 45 points, tallying 23 first downs, 575 total yards and two long scoring passes of 45 and 75 yards, respectively.
Maguire found his receivers down the field consistently, and three receivers caught passes of 19 yards or longer. In particular, Travis Rudolph benefited from Maguire’s touch down the field. He caught five passes for 191 yards and three touchdowns, averaging an astounding 38.2 yards per catch. Before this game, Rudolph had only caught 30 passes for 310 yards with three touchdowns.
At the end of the resounding victory, Maguire had piled up 348 yards on 23-of-35 passing with three touchdowns, averaging 9.9 yards per attempt.
Even more impressive is the fact that Maguire did all this on Saturday without Heisman candidate Dalvin Cook (ankle injury) in the lineup.
To be fair, backup running back Jacques Patrick did his best Cook impersonation, going for 162 yards and three touchdowns himself, but much of his damage was done after Maguire and Rudolph softened up the back end of Syracuse’s defense.
Clearly, the offense is much more explosive with Maguire at the helm.
Head coach Jimbo Fisher has a tough decision to make going forward. Golson missed this game because he was still experiencing mild symptoms of a concussion, suffered last weekend, but he will likely be ready for next weekend’s game. The rule of thumb says that a one-game injury shouldn’t cost a starting player his job.
That said, there have been instances where coaches do make the change mid-stream because the backup makes it impossible to send him back to the bench.
This appears to be one of those rare instances. Fisher would be smart to roll with the hot hand next weekend when the Seminoles take on Clemson (undefeated before Week 9) in what should be the definitive game of the season for both ACC programs.