We prove a conditional theorem on the positivity of the Lyapunov exponent for a Schrödinger cocycle over a skew-shift base with a cosine potential and the golden ratio as frequency. For coupling below
, which is the threshold for Herman’s subharmonicity trick, we formulate three conditions on the Lyapunov exponent in a finite but large volume and on the associated large-deviation estimates at that scale. Our main results demonstrate that these finite-size conditions imply the positivity of the infinite-volume Lyapunov exponent. This paper shows that it is possible to make the techniques developed for the study of Schrödinger operators with deterministic potentials, based on large-deviation estimates and the avalanche principle, effective.