Here’s the thing. Crowning Jameis Winston as the “next big thing” in college football is unfair, shows a lack of professionalism and all that other stuff that may piss Twitter off. But I’ll damned if the kid didn’t make one hell of a first impression in Florida State’s 41-13 victory over Pittsburgh.
As someone who has followed the ‘Noles for years, that “trap game” mentioned in last week’s preview is always a threat. I also mentioned how the defense would allow Winston a learning curve the first few weeks of the season as he adjusted to his new role. Turns out he didn’t need it. The redshirt freshman – also a draft pick of the Texas Rangers – topped Teddy Bridgewater’s performance the day before tallying 356 yards and five touchdowns via 25-27 passing against a defense that ranked in the top 20 in the country last year returning a good chunk of its starters.
Again, placing too much praise too soon on the guy is a dangerous elixir that’s sometimes impossible to escape in today’s media cycle. Yet, this silent psychosis from FSU fans has been in the making for awhile now, ever since Winston stepped foot in Tallahassee in 2012. As ACC blogger Andrea Adelson points out, Jameis’ debut performance cemented something FSU faithful have known for nearly two years, Winston’s the real deal.
Junior wideout Robert Green caught eight passes for 126 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, junior tight end Nick O’Leary may become Winston’s favorite security blanket in the redzone with 47 yards on four catches. Those numbers become exponentially more impressive when realizing three of those grabs resulted in touchdowns.
The defense held up their end of the bargain allowing 297 total yards even as Pittsburgh entered the game on the emotional high of their first ACC game. “It was the emotions, there were a few technique mistakes,” Lamarcus Joyner said. “Those guys, they were at home, first game, new to the ACC, and they came out and punched us in the mouth. But we settled down.”
Joyner was all over the field with nine tackles and two sacks while FSU’s linebacking duo of Chrisitan Jones and Telvin Smith sported eight tackles a piece.
Looking ahead, FSU’s next four games are Nevada, Bethune Cookman, @Boston College and Maryland. If logic proves true and FSU applies that “trap game” theory to every Saturday while Winston continues to prove week-in and week-out he’s everything the hype has built, mark those calendars for October 19 when the ‘Noles travel to Memorial Stadium to face Clemson.
Winston vs. Tajh Boyd could potentially be the quarterback shootout of the year.*
* – Then again, Manziel vs. McCarron is in two weeks, too.