Jameis Winston matches hype to lead FSU past Pittsburgh

There’s no way that the reality lives up to the hype. But sometimes it does.

The Jameis Winston Era began with 11 straight completions. And he completed 19 of his first 20 passes. There were also four first-half touchdowns.

Not a bad opening night for Florida State’s redshirt freshman quarterback.

Winston threw for 356 yards and had five touchdowns (four passing and one rushing) as No. 11 Florida State opened with a 41-13 win over Pittsburgh on Monday night.

He completed 25 of 27 passes on the night, spreading the ball around like a veteran. Winston connected with Rashad Greene eight times for 126 yards and a touchdown, but he also found tight end Nick O’Leary for three touchdowns and receivers Kenny Shaw (four receptions for 94 yards) and Kelvin Benjamin (five receptions for 73 yards).

“I’m truly blessed to have a great offensive line and great wide receivers and just a veteran team to help us win this game,” Winston said.

Winston’s 356 yards is the most yards ever by a Florida State freshman – true or redshirt – making his first career start. And it’s arguably the best game by a Florida State first-time-starting quarterback — be it a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior.

“I thought he would play well,” Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. “You never know until a guy gets out there. He was true to his process. He’s created great work habits in practice. And he’s done this consistently in practice.

“There is no age limit. If you create good habits, you will get good results.”

Drew Weatherford (2005) and Chris Rix (2001) won their first career starts as redshirt freshmen. They combined, however, for just 202 passing yards and two touchdowns. Winston obliterated those numbers … in the first half.

Winston had the best passing games — in terms of accuracy — of any Florida State quarterback. Danny Kanell completed 28 of 32 passes (87.5 percent vs. N.C. State in 1995). And Winston’s completion percentage was very similar 25 of 27 (92.5 percent).

“I’ve been preaching it all off season — Jameis Winston has the tools to be the best ever to play QB at FSU,” Kanell wrote on Twitter during the game.