Sept. 18, 2013
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Two games into his collegiate career and it's pretty difficult to poke any holes in Jameis Winston's game. In blowout victories over Pittsburgh and Nevada, FSU's highly hyped quarterback has looked every bit the superstar he was expected to be and every bit the veteran he isn't.
After shredding the Panthers for 408 yards of total offense and five combined touchdowns, Winston followed that up by bouncing back from a first-quarter interception and carving up the Wolf Pack thanks to 13 consecutive completed passes and some "did you see that throw?" touchdown tosses.
Entering the fourth week of the college football season, Winston has the best completion percentage in college football this century, is second nationally this year in pass efficiency, is a perfect 26-of-26 on first downs, is 9-of-11 on third downs and has more touchdown passes (eight) than incompletions (five).
So, why has Winston been so good this early? Still humble despite his growing celebrity, the Bessemer, Ala. native credits those around him.
"That's one of the things about playing quarterback at Florida State is that you've got great guys that are going to go get the ball," Winston said.
Winston's rapport with his receivers has been one of the most important ingredients to the hot start the Seminoles have cooked up. Kenny Shaw, Rashad Greene, Kelvin Benjamin and Christian Green aren't dropping passes, his tailbacks are running and blocking well and the offensive line is doing its job, too.
"We put in a lot of work this summer at 7-on-7s," Winston said. "We even had meetings just me and the wide receivers and the running backs. It was just that preparation before the season that we came into the season comfortable with each other."
Still, Winston's physical tools and on-field cool can't be overlooked -- no matter how many playmakers Jimbo Fisher has surrounded him with. There have been many quarterbacks before him from high school to college to the NFL that were surrounded with elite talent that didn't display the same deft touch on his passes, steady on-field demeanor and play-making ability that Winston has showcased in less than eight quarters of action to start his career.
Winston isn't just quick about deflecting his praise to his teammates; he also credits his relationship with Fisher and quarterbacks coach Randy Sanders as reasons for his head-turning play.
"The preparation is made before the game instead of during the game but obviously if they see something that I don't see while I am on the field or if i see something that they are not seeing," Winston said, "we are real good at communicating that during the game."
"What he's seeing and saying is exactly what I'm getting from the booth," Fisher said, "and what we're seeing on the sidelines too and the reasons he's doing things whether it's right or wrong, it's for the right reason."
The statistics don't reflect it -- FSU ran an average of 67.2 players per game last season compared to the 63 they have averaged in two contests this year -- but Fisher has trusted Winston to run a more up-tempo offense.
The 'Noles aren't moving from play to play and snapping the ball quickly, but they are utilizing a no-huddle approach on many occasions that puts pressure on Winston to not only quickly and accurately process the play, but also deliver it to his teammates who are spread out across the field.
"I've got to set the tempo because those guys are going to follow a guy they think that they can trust," Winston said. "... We play fast, we play efficient and we get the job done."
Winston's confidence isn't bravado; it's innocent trust in his own abilities because his on-field production is nothing new -- it's just a different (and bigger) stage.
From his days running his talented high school team as a freshman starter to his time now at FSU, he's remained his same unflappable self. When asked Wednesday at his weekly sit-down interview with the media if his parents thought he'd be nervous playing in his first games as the starting quarterback at Florida State, Winston provided a glimpse into part of what makes the elite talent around him, the coaching and the system he is in work so well.
"[My parents] don't expect me to go out there and be nervous because I ain't did that my whole life," Winston said. "So why would I wait 'til I get to college to do it now?"
(click to enlarge) infographic courtesy of Seminole Sports Marketing's @blane31