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Florida State football spring questions: Quarterback

FSU heads into spring 2014 knowing who the starter will be, but where can the ball throwing robot improve?

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

FSU begins the season with an experienced winning QB and a ton of talent behind him. Surely this sentence was written ad nauseam in the 90's.

Code Name: Jaboo

In 2013 Florida State robotics unleashed their initial offering upon the college football world and things could not have gone much better. Jameis Winston exploded onto the scene in front of a national audience showing great accuracy, arm strength, and escapability. However, much like any technology improvements can be made.

Upgrading the Processor

In his freshman season Winston did a great job of finding the open man but it sometimes took longer than it should have. This never became a problem as Winston often times had great protection and was built with a Teflon coating allowing him to evade rushers. However, he did take some sacks. While Winston was only sacked 6.83% of the time he took more hits than needed. A likely larger emphasis on the running game will help reduce the number of times he's hit, but Winston still needs to check down when the long ball isn't there.

Re-configuring the Software

In 2013 Winston was asked to shoulder a large offensive role and he handled it with aplomb. (Note: Designers built Winston to handle everything with aplomb.)  However, the 2014 version will have to win with audibles and deferring to the run game more often. That's not to say Winston does not audible well, but opposing defensive coordinators will now have a full year of tape to diagnose Winston's strengths and weaknesses and will have more time to formulate schemes to confuse him. Winston will need to recognize these schemes and audible accordingly. Again, an increased emphasis on the run will help clear things up but it's up to Winston to make the call.

Ironing Out the Bugs

Mechanics are a portion of a QB's game that will need continual refinement throughout their careers and Winston is no different. While Winston's throwing mechanics are not awful by any means he can certainly improve his draft stock by shorting his wind up and keeping the ball down. When Winston misses he tends to miss high increasing the chance for an interception as opposed to throwing low. Finally, how is Winston under center? Most of Winston's snaps have been from the shotgun but running the ball likely means more under the center snaps. There's no reason to suspect any issues will crop up but it is an unknown.

There's little Winston will be able to do to improve as a QB at the college level but the biggest thing he can do is stay consistent. Showing that last year was not a fluke, there's no reason to think it was, will keep FSU heading towards the playoffs and increase Winston's draft stock.

Coming Off the Assembly Line

FSU fans have not seen too much of back ups Sean Maguire and John Franklin III but there's certainly reason to be optimistic for each QB. Fisher mentioned Maguire a few times as having a shot at starting next year when asked about Winston and Jacob Coker. Relegated to back up snaps and starting the year 3rd on the depth chart, Maguire only really saw time after Coker went down with a knee injury and that was mostly with the second string offensive line - a drastic drop off in production. How much time Maguire will see with the first string will be interesting to watch as the season progresses. Last year Coker did not see much time with the first stringers as Fisher opted to bring in the second string offense all at once. Will Fisher continue that tactic or will the RS Sophomore get first team reps?

FSU fans may not have heard much of John Franklin III as the red shirt freshman ran the scout team but he received rave reviews from the defense when preparing the team for Auburn's Nick Marshall. There's little question to Franklin's athletic ability but fans will have to wait and see how complete of a quarterback he can be. All reports indicate that Franklin is behind Maguire on the depth chart, meaning he would not likely see starting snaps until he's a RS Junior or Senior. Does Franklin stick around at the QB position or move to WR or S? Will Franklin transfer?

Putting It All Together

As long as Fisher is calling the shots for FSU there won't likely be question marks at the QB position. Fisher's talent evaluation along with his coaching acumen result in FSU fans not worrying about whether or not their QB will be good, but will he be great. In 2014 neither question will be asked. FSU has a great QB and should enjoy him for final 12-15 games of his FSU football career. Barring an injury to Winston, Maguire and Franklin will get opportunities to see the field in garbage time, and FSU projects to play in a lot of garbage time this year, increasing the likelihood they will turn into very good if not great QBs just like FSU did in its heyday. If you listen hard you can hear "The Sign" by Ace of Base. It's like the 90's all over again.