FSU's Jameis Winston beats early adversity in home debut
FSU's Jameis Winston overcame early struggles to help the Seminoles rout the Wolf Pack.
By BOB FERRANTEFS Florida
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The sequel to the Jameis Winston Show started slow.
After completing two of his first four passes, which already included as many incompletions as he threw in the season-opening win at Pittsburgh, Winston overshot Kenny Shaw and was intercepted.
Florida State fans were on the edge of their seats, wondering what might happen next. There was drama, unexpectedly so, as the No. 10 Seminoles (2-0) were struggling at home against Nevada.
But then Winston completed his next 13 passes, connecting with Shaw and Rashad Greene on second-quarter touchdown passes as Florida State pulled away and routed Nevada 62-7 on Saturday afternoon.
"What I like about it was he made a mistake but he didn't get gun-shy," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. "He went right back in and started making throws and made some good plays.
"They're going to happen in bigger games, in bigger moments. You just have to keep growing. You have to remember he's just a freshman."
He had freshman-like moments early on Saturday. But then he looked a lot like the Winston that was special in the opener -- precise, poised and confident.
Winston threw for 214 yards and added a 10-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. And after starting his first game in Pittsburgh with 11 straight completions, Winston one-upped himself by finishing the game against Nevada with 13 straight completions.
Among those passes was a 24-yard touchdown pass, Winston's first at home, as he put just the right touch on the pass and found Shaw in the end zone after he had slipped behind a defender.
"It was a perfect throw, in my opinion," Shaw said. "It just fell in my hands."
After throwing for 356 yards and four touchdowns in his first college game at Pittsburgh, Winston was more anxious to please -- himself, his family, his teammates and the 73,847 fans at Doak Campbell Stadium.
"First home game, I was just pumped," Winston said. "I tried to do too much. That's why I think I forced that turnover. I messed up."
It was the first college interception for Winston. And it came at a crucial point in the game, with Florida State ahead 3-0 but soon down 7-3 after Nevada capitalized with its first and only touchdown Saturday.
Winston could have reacted the wrong way. But he was again composed in the face of adversity. And he received some words of encouragement from Fisher.
"He didn't give me no long speech," Winston said. "Didn't give me no long lecture. He just said, 'Go higher. Here it is. Adversity is here. What are you going to do?' "
Florida State had a three-and-out on its next drive. But then the Seminoles scored on nine of their next 10 drives as they scored 59 unanswered points.
Winston carved up Nevada (1-2) in the second and third quarters, finishing the game 15 of 18 for 214 yards, three total touchdowns and the interception, and backup quarterbacks Jacob Coker and Sean Maguire played in the fourth quarter.
After the game, Winston was asked to evaluate his performance. And he again deflected praise.
"I never rate my performance because we got that victory," Winston said. "Victories, team. Losses, that's always the quarterback. I was just born like that."
The spotlight will continue to shine brightly on Winston. And he's handled the pressure well in his first starts. Despite the interception, it's been a stunning opening two games: Winston is 40 of 45 (88.8 percent) for 570 yards, six passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns.
Not bad at all for a junior or senior, let alone a redshirt freshman.
Next up? Florida State will play host to Bethune-Cookman on Sept. 21 at 6 p.m.