Photo courtesy of Ross Obley/Florida State athletics
You can blame COVID-19. You can blame loss of spring, loss of campus time with strength and conditioning coaches or hands-on time with position coaches and so on.
It won’t change the record.
It won’t change the fact that some other folks are doing well and it won’t change the standard.
We can all agree at this moment that the 2020 season for Florida State is a wash. The only thing that could change that opinion is if FSU wins out with maybe the exception of a loss to Clemson. However, a win-out with all these changes, youth movement or experimentation could make this season less of a wash and more of a transition. Luckily, we are in a “what have you done for me lately?” business.
FSU head coach Mike Norvell got off to a solid start with good energy in his press conference and a national whisper that he is a brilliant offensive mind. Some even compared him to other young stud coaches like Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley. For many, that meant that with “the logo”, he would be able to recruit premium players at the most important position on the field.
We begin this series by looking at that position — the quarterback position.
Norvell quickly jumped in the quarterback room. He recruited the then current FSU quarterbacks James Blackman and Jordan Travis to get them to stay and then hit the trail. Though he lost Jeff Sims, he got two flips in Tate Rodemaker and Chubba Purdy.
Norvell also secured a commit from his true quarterback of the future and the quarterback that will be associated with his name whether for better or for worse. That’s “Sir” Luke Altmyer — an Elite 11 talent.
Blackman simply did not progress under Norvell. Travis is TBD, because he’s unable to stay healthy. When he’s playing however, he has energized the team to wins over Jacksonville State and at the time, No. 5 North Carolina.
The biggest question mark is that there’s only been one half of sustained offensive success. FSU has yet to have played a complete game in a win. Neither Rodemaker nor Purdy, in their limited time, have done anything to make FSU fans believe they have “the guy” behind center.
While landing two high school quarterbacks in one recruiting class has been excessively celebrated — because FSU did not get one in the previous two — it sort of falls null and void if both are perceived to be either no good or not good enough.
Altmyer is the cowbell for this 2021 class. As previously stated an Elite 11 talent, he stands 6-foot-3 and roughly 190 or 200 pounds. He will likely be competing if he enrolls early with the opportunity to steal the starting job.
Ideally, you want Altmyer to early enroll, learn the offense and compete. If he’s good enough, roll the dice. If not, he can take a redshirt and really get stronger and learn the entire offense without having to take abuse with the on-the-field learning.
Altmyer has shown great ability reading defenses and being accurate with throws. He even showed ability to make anticipation throws, which could be indispensable for a Mike Norvell scheme. He has a quick release, which should help the offensive line and has shown the ability to escape the pocket and move a little.
The likely comparison is USC’ Kedon Slovis. Some 2022 prospects to keep an eye out for are Nicco Marchiol, Ty Simpson and AJ Duffy.
COVID-19’s impact has derailed any potential positivity. Maybe the scheme in which Norvell and offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham run is sophisticated enough that it literally takes a full year or so to understand.
While we drool over the comparisons to Lincoln Riley, Florida’s Dan Mullen, etc., we must note that those guys became universally appreciated because of their ability to coach any quarterback to success in their system. That’s regardless of whether they recruited or inherited the signal caller.
We have seen Riley churn out four different styled offenses with success. Whether it was Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, Jalen Hurts or now Spencer Rattler at quarterback, the Sooners always have offensive success.
Mullen has done the same with Dak Prescott, Feleipe Franks and now, Kyle Trask. We wanted that type of instant reward with Norvell and Dillingham, but that’s to be determined. For Norvell to have that success with his quarterbacks, position groups like wide receivers and the offensive line will also need to be serviceable.