True Freshmen Starters
Florida State started two true freshmen on defense tonight in the 2013 season opener. Jalen Ramsey and DeMarcus Walker both made starts in their first game of their first season in Garnet and Gold. Ramsey didn't waste much time making an impact as he picked off Pitt QB Tom Savage and set up the Seminoles first TD that tied the game at 7-7. Other freshmen (true or redshirt) to play in the first half were Matthew Thomas, Kermit Whitfield and Roberto Aguayo who all played on special teams.
Roberto Is Right On
Filling Dustin Hopkins' golden shoes is no easy task but you won't find anyone involved with FSU football that didn't believe they had the right guy in Roberto Aguayo. The redshirt freshman didn't have to hit any field goals longer than 30 yards but in his debut he went 2-for-2 on field goals and 4-for-4 on extra points.
Yards Per Play
The debut of Jameis Winston was, safe to say, a rousing success. The redshirt freshman not only put up big numbers but he took command of the Seminole offense like he had been in control for years. One of the best ways to see just how effective he was, besides a school record single game completion percentage (.926), was the yards per play the offense generated under his leadership. Before leaving the game, Winston and the Seminole offense averaged 9.04 yards per play. That number was higher than every game the Seminoles played in 2012 with the exception of Savannah State (9.39) and BC (9.14).
The Seminoles came out tonight looking to replace seven defensive starters from 2012 and with two true freshmen in the lineup. Pitt took advantage of that electing to receive the kick-off after winning the coin toss. The Panthers then drove 80 yards to score a TD on the opening drive of the game. The last time that happened to the FSU defense was in 2012 versus Clemson - a stretch of 10 games without allowing a TD on the opponent's first drive. The last time the Seminoles allowed an opening TD drive on the road was September 24, 2011 versus Clemson once again. That was 23 games ago.
Benjamin Catching On
Redshirt sophomore Kelvin Benjamin seems to have the trust of redshirt freshman QB Jameis Winston. Last season, Benjamin only had more than three catches in two of the 13 games in which he played. In the first quarter alone of tonight's game the Belle Glade, Fla. native hauled in three balls. Benjamin registered his fourth catch in the second quarter, tying the second-most balls he has ever caught in a game. He ended the night, tying his career high for catches in a game at five.
Almost 20 Years In The Making
Kelvin Benjamin wasn't the only Seminole who benefitted opening night playing alongside Jameis Winston. Junior tight end Nick O'Leary established a new career high for TD catches in a game just 16:19 into the season. He hauled in a 24-yarder in the first quarter and a two-yarder to open the second. The last time an FSU tight end caught two touchdown passes in a game was November 5, 1994. That year Melvin Pearsall hauled in five TD's including two in a game against Georgia Tech. In the fourth quarter O'Leary added his third TD catch of the night, nearly equaling his career total of four which he amassed in 26 games.
Playing your first ever game as a redshirt freshman QB in a hostile environment can be daunting but not for Jameis Winston apparently. The Hueytown, Ala. native went 6-for-6 for 81 yards in the first quarter with a TD. He improved that number to 8-of-8 with his second TD, which also went to TE Nick O'Leary. It took 23:09 before Winston threw his first incompletion following an 11-for-11 start. His first incompletion was on a long out route that was caught but Kenny Shaw who had a toe on the line causing the first miss of the night for Jameis. Following that incompletion Winston completed his next three passes and then ran in the first TD of his career putting FSU up 21-10. Winston finished with a school record for completion percentage going 25-for-27 for a .926 percentage. That beat out the previous best of 87.5 by Danny Kanell (28-32) set in 1995 versus NC State.
New D Trying To Turn It Over
When Mark Stoops was hired to take over as the head football coach at Kentucky the Seminoles turned to Jeremy Pruitt from Alabama to take over the FSU defense. Pruitt was the secondary coach for the Crimson Tide and one of his goals was to turn up the number of turnovers the Seminole defense created. If the first half was any indication, he and his defense are off to a good start with two picks in the first half and then a dropped INT in the end zone.
WR Rashad Greene (with an "e" as he says he's not a color) has led FSU in receptions the last two years and averages a TD once in every eight touches throughout his career. After one half, the superstar wide out is ahead of schedule. Greene caught seven balls for 115 yards and scored a TD in the first half before finishing the game with those numbers. He now has 14 career receiving TDs.