Florida State freshman quarterback Jameis Winston was brilliant in his debut performance against the Pittsburgh Panthers Monday night. Although it might have seemed like an impossible feat before kickoff, the rookie signal caller outperformed his considerable preseason hype. For the night, Winston was 25-27 for 356 yards and four touchdowns. He added another touchdown rushing for good measure.
However, his incredible statistics don’t tell the whole story. Winston’s on-filed demeanor, command of the huddle and overall leadership were equally as eye-popping. In his first college start, on the road and in a tough environment, Winston carried himself like a pro. He ran the no-huddle offense flawlessly, changing the protections and identifying blitzes all night long.
Winston’s accuracy was near perfect as well, as no ball he threw all night hit the ground (both incompletions were caught, but out of bounds). His timing was impeccable, his delivery was silky smooth, and he showed the toughness not only to hang in the pocket, but also to run between the tackles when asked to.
It was the type of performance Florida State fans had been dreaming about since they landed the highly rated quarterback two years ago. In fact, teammate Lamarcus Joyner implied that his performance was almost pre-ordained when he said, “A prophecy has been fulfilled.”
If the hype machine wasn’t in full force beforehand, it certain is now. Immediately following the game, analysts were debating whether or not Winston could surpass Johnny Manziel as the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy.
One game, loads more expectations.
Next up for Winston and the Noles is a visit from the Nevada Wolfpack, who were absolutely destroyed by UCLA in their opening game, giving up 58 points. It would be easy to expect Winston to perform like he did in the opener once again, but that expectation is ridiculous.
Or is it?