This post originally appeared at The Daily Nole on July 18, 2016
Who starts at quarterback for Florida State in 2016 might be the single biggest burning question for FSU heading into the new season. The Seminoles have had three Heisman Trophy winners throughout their history at the position and others who are very accomplished.
Whether the starter for 2016 is the experienced Sean Maguire, the highly-touted redshirt freshman Deondre Francois or miraculously someone else, the Seminoles should have no problem racking up wins. The key will be winning the big games. Here’s the biggest win for each of the last 10 quarterbacks to start under center for Florida State:
Sean Maguire (2012-Present)
Biggest Win: Sept. 20, 2014 vs. Clemson
Sean Maguire is 4-2 in his career as Florida State’s starter and despite helping FSU past rival Florida last season, Maguire’s biggest win as a Seminole was his first. With reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston suspended for the 2014 ACC opener against Clemson, Maguire was given the reigns. The Seminoles trailed for most of the night and 17-10 with under seven minutes to play when Maguire found Rashad Greene for a 74-yard touchdown. Maguire survived a late interception that put Clemson deep into FSU territory with under two minutes to play, thanks to a strip of Tigers’ running back C.J. Davidson by defensive tackle Eddie Goldman and a recovery by FSU’s Nate Andrews. After a stop on fourth down in overtime, Karlos Williams scored the game-winning touchdown from 12 yards out to give the Seminoles a 23-17 victory. Maguire finished the night with 304 yards passing, a touchdown and two interceptions as FSU went on to win the ACC and earn a spot in the first-ever College Football Playoff.
Everett Golson (2015)
Biggest Win: Oct. 10, 2015 vs. Miami
Everett Golson played just one season in garnet and gold, but one of his finest performances came in a rivalry victory over Miami. Golson finished the night 25-for-33 passing for 291 yards and a touchdown, but with just over 10 minutes to play, the Seminoles found themselves on the short end of a 24-23 score. On the ensuing drive, Golson converted two key third downs — one with his arm and another with his legs — as FSU marched 83 yards in eight plays. Dalvin Cook’s 23-yard touchdown run put Florida State ahead for good as the Seminoles defeated their rivals to the south for a sixth straight time, 29-24.
Jameis Winston (2012-14)
Biggest Win: Jan. 6, 2014 vs. Auburn (BCS National Championship)
Although it wasn’t his finest performance, there’s no question what Jameis Winston’s biggest win was during his time at Florida State. Looking to win its first national title in 14 years, top-ranked FSU faced No. 2 Auburn in Pasadena for the final BCS National Championship. On his 20th birthday, Winston watched Auburn take an early 21-3 lead, but thanks to a touchdown run from Devonta Freeman and a toss from Winston to fullback Chad Abram, the Seminoles pulled to within one early in the fourth quarter. After an Auburn field goal and an exchange of touchdowns, Winston got the ball with just over a minute to play from his own 20-yard-line, down 31-27. Winston methodically led the Seminoles 80 yards in seven plays, capping the drive with a 2-yard touchdown toss to Kelvin Benjamin with 13 seconds remaining. Winston finished the night 20-for-35 passing for 237 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the Seminoles defeated the Tigers, 34-31.
E.J. Manuel (2008-12)
Biggest Win: Sept. 22, 2012 vs. Clemson
There are a handful of victories that E.J. Manuel started for Florida State where one could make the case that it was the most important, but the 2012 victory over Clemson perhaps played the biggest role in returning the Seminoles to national prominence. In a match-up of top-10 teams, the Tigers led 28-14 early in the second half. That’s when Manuel caught fire, leading four straight touchdown drives and five in six possessions. Manuel’s 482-total yard effort allowed the Seminoles to turn a 14-point deficit into a 49-31 lead. Manuel passed for 380 yards and two scores while rushing for 102 yards as FSU topped Clemson, 49-37. Florida State would go on to notch its first ACC title in seven seasons, its first BCS bowl win in 13 seasons and its first top-10 finish in nine years.
Clint Trickett (2010-12)
Biggest Win: N/A
Clint Trickett performed admirably in place of an injured E.J. Manuel against Oklahoma in a match-up of top-5 teams in 2011 and in his first start the following week against Clemson. Unfortunately for Trickett, he never won a game as FSU’s starter. Trickett passed for 336 yards and three touchdowns in the 35-30 September loss to Clemson. Trickett got the start the next week against Wake Forest, but was ineffective and replaced by Manuel in another 35-30 loss. After getting outplayed in the spring prior to the 2013 season, Trickett transferred to West Virginia, finishing his FSU career 0-2 as a starter.
Christian Ponder (2006-10)
Biggest Win: Nov. 27, 2010 vs. Florida
As a senior in 2010, Christian Ponder led Florida State to its first ACC Atlantic title in five years and its first 10-win season since 2003, but the biggest win of Ponder’s career came in his final game at Doak Campbell Stadium. FSU entered the 2010 contest against rival Florida as losers of six straight in the rivalry. After falling behind 7-3 early, the Seminoles took control of the game with 21 unanswered points in the second quarter. Ponder finished with 221 yards passing and three touchdown tosses as FSU humiliated the rival Gators, 31-7. Though the victory had no barring on FSU’s ACC title hopes or the national championship race, it swung football supremacy in the Sunshine State.
Drew Weatherford (2004-08)
Biggest Win: Dec. 3, 2005 vs. Virginia Tech (ACC Championship)
Drew Weatherford had an up-and-down career as Florida State’s starting quarterback, but the highlight of his career was without a doubt the inaugural ACC Championship. The Seminoles limped into the contest in Jacksonville at 7-4 and on a 3-game losing streak. Against No. 5 Virginia Tech, the teams went to the locker room tied, 3-3. In the second half however, FSU erupted for 24 straight points, ignited by 83-yard punt return for a touchdown by Willie Reid. The Hokies scored 19 straight points against an FSU prevent defense, but a failed onside kick with 1:45 to play allowed Florida State to run out the clock. Weatherford passed for 225 yards and a touchdown as FSU notched its 12th ACC crown in 14 years.
Xavier Lee (2004-07)
Biggest Win: Sept. 29 vs. Alabama (Jacksonville)
Xavier Lee didn’t start the 2007 contest between Florida State and Alabama in Jacksonville, but it wouldn’t be right to give any other FSU quarterback credit for the victory. The Seminoles and No. 22 Crimson Tide played to a scoreless tie in the first half when Lee was inserted into the lineup for an ineffective Drew Weatherford. Lee would account for 283 total yards and two touchdown passes to De’Cody Fagg while leading three second half touchdown drives in a 21-14 FSU victory. After going 1-2 in his next three starts, Lee was suspended before a home showdown against Duke and never regained his starting job.
Chris Rix (2000-04)
Biggest Win: Nov. 29, 2003 at Florida
Chris Rix was chided by Florida State fans for his inability to beat Miami as Rix went 0-5 in his career against the Hurricanes. Against the Gators however, that wasn’t the case. At Florida in 2003, FSU jumped to a 17-6 lead before the Gators answered with 18 unanswered points. In a game that had five second-half lead changes, the Seminoles looked done with under two minutes to play. Facing 4th-and-14 from their own 24-yard-line, Rix would keep the Seminoles’ hopes alive with a 24-yard strike to Dominic Robinson for a first down. On the very next play, Rix was flushed to his right when he unloaded a pass to the end zone. Florida State receiver P.K. Sam beat Guss Scott for the 52-yard score with 55 seconds left as the Seminoles rallied for a 38-34 victory. After a quiet first half, Rix finished with 256 yards passing and four total touchdowns.
Wyatt Sexton (2002-04)
Biggest Win: Oct. 16, 2004 vs. Virginia
Wyatt Sexton made just seven career starts for Florida State and each of them came in 2004. That season, Sexton went 5-2, but his best performance came in a contest between top-10 ACC schools. Against No. 6 and undefeated Virginia, the Seminoles dominated from start to finish at Doak Campbell Stadium and Sexton was a big reason why. Sexton finished the evening 20-for-26 passing for 275 yards and a score as FSU walloped the Cavaliers, 36-3. The win gave Florida State high hopes moving forward, but FSU’s ACC and national championship hopes would die two weeks later in a 20-17 loss at Maryland. Sexton and Chris Rix would play musical quarterbacks for the remainder of the season and after a bout with Lyme Disease in the offseason, Sexton decided to quit football.