Depending on your disposition, the first half of Florida State’s annual Garnet and Gold game was either extremely encouraging or a cause for a lot of concern.
The first team defense — playing today for the Gold team — has been absolutely stout early on in the Spring Game. Jameis Winston and the Florida State first team offense were completely shut out in the first quarter, committing three turnovers and missing a field goal as the Garnet team sputtered out in the opening minutes.
It was all Gold early on, as a Rashad Golston touchdown reception put them up over the Garnet 7-0.
Winston, despite buckling down as the first half progressed, was wild at the outset. The redshirt sophomore quarterback missed high on his first few throws, tossed an interception to Jalen Ramsey when he threw into triple coverage and then botched a handoff to Freddie Stevenson down in the Gold red-zone.
It was hardly the kind of performance that Seminoles fans had hoped to see as the tuned into the Spring game.
The flip-side of that is the first team defense has played out of its mind. Former FSU safety Terrence Brooks said dozens of times in the past few months that he thinks this year’s group in the Florida State secondary is going to be something special. Early on, that prediction looks to be a good one. Even without Ronald Darby and Nate Andrews, the Florida State defensive backs have suffocated the first team receivers. PJ Williams, in particular, has run stride-for-stride with Rashad Greene all afternoon and — with the exception of one pass — has held the senior receiver completely in check when covering him (key words, ‘when covering him’).
Sophomore linebackers EJ Levenberry and Matthew Thomas have also stood out. Thomas for the Gold team, while Levenberry and early-enrolee Trey Marshall have stood out for the second team defense on the Garnet side.
Both sides — the first and second team defenses — have looked stellar in the first half today.
The Garnet team ended up pulling ahead in the second quarter though. Stevenson evened the scoring at 7 with a second down touchdown run from six yards out, then a few drives later Roberto Aguayo tacked on a field goal to make it 10-7.
Winston connected with Greene in the final minute to make it 17-7 and a Ro-Derrick Hoskins’ pick-six against Maguire made it 24-7 with just seconds remaining.
But the score is hardly the most important element of the Spring game. This is when young players look to make a name for themselves and older players look to stay ahead in their position battles (and more importantly — stay healthy).
So far, health doesn’t seem to be a huge issue for either side. There were a handful of players held out for precautionary reasons, but the only guy who has gone down so far was Jarred “Scooter” Haggins — who returned to action several minutes later.
As for players battling for positions, Cason Beatty’s role as the punter continues to seem open. He let go an unspectacular punt to open the game (following the Garnet team going three and out on their first possession) and was then replaced by sophomore Jonathan Hernandez from Manatee HS.
The back-up QB battle also looks to be up for grabs. Maguire was sharp in the early going, connecting with Goldson on the touchdown while also making a handful of other good throws (not including the pick-six that ended the half), but John Franklin III has also impressed with his arm strength.
Both QB’s will likely continue to see action in the second half of this one too. We still have a full half to go here in Tallahassee.
Passing: Jameis Winston (13/31, 259, TD, INT)
Receiving: Rashad Greene (6-83, TD)
Rushing: Freddie Stevenson (11-72, TD)
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