The main goal of Florida State’s game against the Nevada Wolf Pack on Saturday was to get freshman quarterback Jameis Winston more crucial experience, then to get him out of the game in the second half to keep him fresh.
Luckily, they were able to accomplish both.
The Seminoles didn’t get Nevada’s best shot in a 62-7 blowout that got really ugly in the third quarter, as the Wolf Pack were missing their starting quarterback. Then, when their backup quarterback Devin Combs got injured in the first half, it became third-string signal-caller Tyler Stewart’s job to bring Nevada back against a team ranked in the top 10.
That didn’t happen, of course, so let’s focus on Winston’s play.
It wasn’t quite the superhuman performance he had against Pittsburgh, but Winston certainly had another solid day. One of my biggest fears going into this game was how far Winston would step back, having two weeks off to hear about how great he played.
And yes, he was slightly off his game early Saturday afternoon — he only completed two of his first five passes, including an interception that set up a Nevada touchdown. When the dust settled, the Seminoles were trailing Nevada 7-3 nearly 20 minutes into the game.
That’s where it could have all melted down, and has so many times in the past. But Winston, resembling a veteran quarterback, wasn’t shaken.
After another three-and-out, Winston would go on to hit all 13 of his passing targets the rest of the game, and while 15-of-18 for 214 yards wasn’t exactly on the same level as Johnny Manziel’s stats against Alabama, it was a sign FSU’s signal-caller can handle adversity.
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I fully expect Winston to fall out of the Heisman talk this weekend. Maybe he’ll work his way back into the conversation, and maybe he won’t. I’d prefer he didn’t have that much hype surrounding him as he continues to learn at high speeds because it’s an added distraction.
Through two games, Winston has more passing touchdowns (6) than incompletions (5). That’s more than FSU fans could have ever asked for. They’ve gained more yards per play against Pitt and Nevada than they did a year ago in their first two games, and those games were against Murray State and Savannah State. And last year, the ‘Noles had a senior playing quarterback, not a freshman.
They’re all very positive signs, but we likely won’t know more about Jameis Winston until Oct. 19 at Clemson. Until then, stay guarded and enjoy the ride, Seminoles.