This marks the first time in a number of years where it can be said there is no quarterback battle this offseason for the Florida State football team.
Some FSU quarterback battles have had more obvious conclusions than others, but this is, in reality, the first time since Jameis Winston in 2014 that there’s been no secret whatsoever as to who will be leading the Seminoles’ offense into the upcoming season.
FSU head coach Mike Norvell has made it clear that Jordan Travis, who split time as the starter each of the last two seasons, will be the starting quarterback.
The FSU quarterbacks do have a new coach position this offseason in Tony Tokarz, replacing Kenny Dillingham, now the offensive coordinator at Oregon. However, Tokarz has spent the last two years as an analyst at FSU and that familiarity has helped ease the transition.
We’re kicking off our FSU football position preview series with a look at FSU’s quarterback room with preseason camp on the horizon.
Get to know FSU’s new QBs coach:Inside Tony Tokarz’s unconventional path from Division III player to Florida State QB coach
FSU football player countdown:Florida State football most important player countdown: No. 32
FSU offensive depth chart projection:Projecting Florida State’s two-deep depth chart on offense this fall
After so many years of FSU quarterback battles, it’s got to be quite nice for that to be sorted out for the Seminoles.
In his first three years at FSU, Travis has come incredibly far. The Louisville transfer didn’t factor into the playing time conversation at all when he arrived. Even once he got on the field late in the 2019 season, he was used almost exclusively as a runner.
But there’s no denying now that Travis has grown into quite a quarterback for the Seminoles. He’s been FSU’s midseason savior at quarterback each of the last two seasons, taking over three games into the 2020 season and beating out McKenzie Milton to claim the full-time job a few weeks into the 2021 season.
In 2020, Travis relied more on his athleticism, rushing for a team-high 559 yards and seven touchdowns. He completed just 55% of his passes and had as many interceptions as he did passing touchdowns (6).
Travis’ athleticism was still a factor in 2021 and should still be in 2022. But the most promising development was the notable step forward he took as a passer.
Last season, he completed 122 of 194 passes (62.9%), throwing nine more touchdowns (15) and the same number of interceptions as he did in 2020 on 63 more pass attempts.
His 85.2 grade from Pro Football Focus for the 2021 season was 44th out of 294 quarterbacks. Even more surprisingly, his 82.3 pass grade was noticeably better than his 72.6 run grade. He graded out as the No. 41 FBS passer last year.
With another year of experience under his belt, the starting job assured and a better supporting cast around him on offense, there’s lots of reasons to believe he’ll take another major step in his development in 2022.
For as much reason as there is to be confident in what Travis can accomplish in 2022, he hasn’t yet shown he can make it through an entire season unscathed.
Each of the last two seasons, Travis has missed time due to an injury and played other games at less than 100% percent due to his various ailments.
Early in his time at FSU, Travis ran with reckless abandon, often taking big hits for extra yards and putting his body on the line. As his role has grown in importance, he’s learned the value of saving his body, using the sideline and avoiding those hits.
And yet, even as he’s been better in this regard, he still missed two games last season, one due to a shoulder injury and another due to an illness.
Some of that can definitely be attributed to the physical nature of football and how quarterbacks are often required to put themselves in harm’s way in order to set their team up for success.
However, it’s a fair criticism of Travis until he makes it through an entire season without missing any time.
This durability concern is multiplied by the lacking nature of FSU’s quarterback depth entering the 2022 season. FSU has just three scholarship quarterbacks and neither of the two after Travis have had any real success at this level.
Tate Rodemaker, entering his third season, has not handled his rare opportunities well. He got a start as a true freshman against Jacksonville State, but was pulled for Travis after throwing an interception and struggling to generate production.
That season, he completed 17 of 29 passes with no touchdowns and three interceptions. In 2021, he appeared sparingly in just three games and attempted just two passes.
Rodemaker looked improved this spring, but that didn’t really carry over into the spring game and there’s some healthy skepticism about if he’s ready for the moment yet or not.
After Rodemaker is true freshman AJ Duffy. Although he was a top-250 recruit and the No. 13 quarterback in the 2022 class per 247Sports, he didn’t appear ready for playing time right away this spring. Duffy showed off his impressive arm in moments and had quite a few days where he made the throw of the practice, but wasn’t nearly consistent enough.
As such, the two potential weaknesses of FSU’s quarterback room, Travis’ durability and the questionable depth at the position, are inextricably linked.
If Travis stays healthy and takes another step in his progression as expected, it’s possible he could have an All-ACC type of season.
His passing stats should take another step forward and it’s easy to believe with FSU’s revamped wide receiver room that he could pass for 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns for the first time in his career.
The biggest thing probably working against Travis on this all-conference quest is the sheer number of experienced and productive ACC quarterbacks who are returning in 2022.
From Wake Forest’s Sam Hartman to NC State’s Devin Leary to Virginia’s Brennan Armstrong and even Tyler Van Dyke at Miami and Malik Cunningham in Louisville, it should be an incredibly good year for quarterbacks in the conference. That may keep Travis from conference consideration even if he takes another big step forward.
If Travis stays healthy, FSU’s offense should have its best season under Norvell and should soar past six wins to bowl eligibility for the second time in five seasons.
If he goes down and misses extensive time, however, it could be a long and excruciating season for the Seminoles.
Reach Curt Weiler at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @CurtMWeiler.
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