While much of the media attention following Florida State‘s 51-14 victory over Clemson has focused on freshman quarterback Jameis Winston, it’s worth noting that the receivers catching his passes are playing pretty well too.
On Saturday night, the Seminoles wide receiving corps outplayed the more hyped Clemson unit, leading the Noles to the surprisingly lopsided victory.
It didn’t take long for the receivers to make an impact in the game, as 6-foot-6 Kelvin Benjamin made a ridiculous leaping catch in the end zone on Winston’s first pass attempt. Before the Clemson fans could even settle into their seats, the Noles were on the board thanks to Benjamin’s freakish athleticism.
Seminole fans have long been waiting for Benjamin to live up to his considerable hype, and it appears he’s getting better and better every week. He only caught two more passes on the night, but he set the tone for the game with his highlight reel catch early on.
After the Tigers closed the game to 17-7, another Noles wide receiver, Rashad Greene, made the most electrifying play of the night. Operating from the right slot, Greene ran an eight-yard curl, sat down in the zone and caught a rocket from Winston. After making a man miss, Greene was free and only had to outrun a safety to take the ball to the house for a 72-yard touchdown that demoralized Clemson.
Interestingly, Clemson ran a zone blitz on the play, so Winston had to zip the ball in between two defensive linemen that were dropping. Once the ball reached Greene, he showed his knack for run after the catch and took it the distance. Greene added another touchdown to start the third quarter when he took a slip screen 17 yards to the end zone to make it 34-7. He finished the night with eight catches for 146 yards and those two touchdowns.
Finally, the other big contributor for the Noles was tight end Nick O’Leary. He was a nightmare working underneath routes on linebackers, getting just enough separation for Winston to fit the ball into. Then, with the Noles backed up deep in their zone, O’Leary got behind the secondary after play action, caught a perfectly thrown lob from Winston and rambled 94 yards down to the five-yard line. That play helped O’Leary lead the Noles in receiving for the night, grabbing five balls for 161 yards.
There’s a lot of work for the Noles to do, but at this point, this receiving corps is living up to the high expectations many had for them before the season began.
B.L. is an ACC football writer for Rant Sports and can be followed on Twitter @coachlip or on Google.