April 12, 2014
By: @BrandonMellor, Seminoles.com Managing Editor
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Jameis Winston and the Garnet team beat the Gold squad, 31-14, Saturday in Florida State's annual spring football game at Doak Campbell Stadium.
Winston, who arrived in Tallahassee four hours before kickoff from Atlanta, Ga. where he was with the FSU baseball team for its series at Georgia Tech, completed 27 of 56 pass attempts for 394 yards with two touchdowns and one interception against the first-team `Noles defense on the Gold side. Asked afterwards why he threw nearly 60 times in a scrimmage, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner cited the Seminoles' most pressing offensive need this off-season.
Building chemistry in the passing game.
With so many young receivers being asked to step up and replace key contributors Kenny Shaw and Kelvin Benjamin, Winston needed as many repetitions this spring with Isaiah Jones, Kermit Whitfield and Jesus Wilson.
"We were trying to get the chemistry going and simulate a game as best we possibly can," Winston said. "And I think we did a good job at it. ... It was way better today. Just like our first scrimmage was iffy, our second scrimmage it got a little better and this scrimmage was way better. We had a lot of young guys step up."
Wilson finished the day for Garnet with 101 yards and one touchdown on four catches while Jones showed great speed and moves with his 6-foot-4 frame, catching five passes for 81 yards. Whitfield added 79 yards on four grabs.
Star Rashad Greene was his typically dominant self. The senior leader of the pass-catching corps grabbed 11 passes for 127 yards and one score. Fellow seniors Jarred Haggins and Christian Green combined for seven catches, 109 yards and one touchdown. Walk-on Rashad Gholston had a touchdown catch and 70 yards, too.
"Every time I come to the sideline I talk to the young guys individually," Winston said. "Like, "what you saw?' And `what you need when you're open?' Stuff like that. Just to get their feedback on what's going on."
Maguire finished 15-of-28 for 203 yards, one touchdown and one interception and Franklin III was 5-of-10 for 103 yards and a touchdown. Franklin was particularly impressive in a final two-minute drill in which he orchestrated a late score on a 19-yard pass to Haggins.
"I think both of them should take that from this scrimmage," FSU coach Jimob Fisher said, referencing the benefit of both young quarterbacks' strong play on a bigger stage.
FSU played Saturday without a scholarship tailback available, so fullback Freddie Stevenson and Nigel Terrell were featured in single-back sets. Both players were linebackers on the roster at this time last year.
Stevenson paced Garnet with a game-high 85 yards on 18 carries and added one touchdown run. Terrell ran just once but hauled in four passes for 58 yards.
Defensively, the first-team defense forced two first-half fumbles and picked up a Jalen Ramsey interception despite playing without starters Ronald Darby, Nate Andrews, Nile-Lawrence Stample and Ukeme Eligwe. Garnet benefitted from Ro'Derrick Hoskins 63-yard interception return for a touchdown late in the first half.
As it is intended to be, Saturday's spring finale featured two teams competing while also making each other better.
"That's the best part; we've got to be competitive," Ramsey said. "We've got to make them tough and most importantly we've got to have fun. That's how we get better. We do the same thing in practices. We just have to compete."
And the fun started early for Gold.
A three-and-out by the Garnet offense an 18-yard Cason Beatty punt gave Maguire a short field and capitalized. The second-string quarterback was a perfect 3-for-3 on a drive that ended with a 29-yard strike to Gholston for the game's first score.
Winston answered with 24-yard swing pass to Terrell on the ensuing drive but his deep-pass attempt a few plays later was batted by Tyler Hunter and Brutus and intercepted by Ramsey.
A few drives later. Stevenson churned out back-to-back big runs and then Winston scrambled to move the chains on third down. After Green hauled in a first-down pass, Stevenson dashed into the redzone. But Winston's fumble on the next play was scooped up by Matthew Thomas for Gold. A three-and-out later, Winston's bomb hit Wilson in stride but the sophomore had the ball poked out near the goal line by P.J. Williams for the third Garnet turnover.
Gold's drive then ended with a missed 50-yard field goal by Roberto Aguayo as time expired in the first quarter.
Working with half a field, the Garnet offense was able to open the second frame by doing something it hadn't done in the first: score a touchdown. A 67-yard scoring drive featured a long Winston-Greene connection and ended with Stevenson's six-yard rush into the north endzone to tie the score 7-7.
Long completions to Greene and Green midway through the second quarter put Garnet back in scoring position and Aguayo knocked home a 37-yard field goal to give Garnet it's first lead of the day -- 10-7 -- with six minutes to play in the first half.
That lead then pushed to 17-7 thanks to Winston's six-yard touchdown throw to Greene with :36 left in the second quarter. Garnet then padded that lead before the halftime horn when Hoskins dropped into coverage and stepped in front of a Maguire pass before returning the interception 63 yards for the Garnet score.
Wilson later grabbed a 12-yard score from Winston and with 1:19 left in the game, Haggins secured Franklin's 19-yard pass for the game's final score.