TALLAHASSEE -- Finally, after two full weeks of college football, No. 10 Florida State will play its home opener on Saturday afternoon against Nevada.
Much has happened in the 12 days since FSU last played. Most notably, after going 25 of 27 for 356 yards and four touchdowns in the Seminoles’ 41-13 blowout victory over Pittsburgh, quarterback Jameis Winston has seen his national profile rise significantly.
But while the nation has spent the past couple weeks fawning over the Seminoles’ redshirt freshman quarterback, things have been relatively quiet in Tallahassee.
“It’s just been another week, another week of preparation and focusing on Nevada,” Winston said. “[I’m] not really focusing on outside things that may bring clutter to the team.”
That’s good news for Florida St., which faces a deceptively talented opponent with an unforgiving style of up-tempo, hurry-up offense. With Nevada averaging an offensive snap every 15 to 20 seconds, the Seminole defense will have its conditioning tested early and often Saturday.
All week in practice, the Seminoles have been doing their best to simulate the Wolf Pack’s fast-paced offense.
“[You have to] practice like it’s a game; you can’t go out there and just go through the motions; that’s what they harp on a lot,” senior safety Terrence Brooks said. “If you go out there and practice like it’s a game — practice like it’s a championship game — you won’t have any surprises in the game over here.”
Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo has been battling injuries and could miss the game. But, when healthy, the junior has drawn comparisons to former Wolf Pack quarterback Colin Kaepernick. As a result, coach Jimbo Fisher and his staff aren’t taking any chances.
“That guy has torched a lot of good people,” Fisher said earlier this week. “He is going to be a test no matter who he is going against. The guy is a very good player — a heck of a player.”
It is possible Florida State’s defense could get an unlikely assist from its quarterback in defending the hurry-up Saturday.
“The louder that stadium gets, the harder it’s going to be to run that hurry-up offense,” junior defensive tackle Tim Jernigan said. “I saw that my freshman year when Oklahoma came in, we worked that whole week preparing for the hurry-up, hurry-up, hurry-up, and then when it was time to play the stadium was so loud that they couldn’t do it.”
Following Winston’s prolific debut, Florida State’s student ticket allotment was snatched up within minutes of being made available earlier this week. Public ticket sales have also gone up significantly since Winston’s big night in Pittsburgh, too, pushing Saturday’s game close to a sellout.
For his part, look for Winston and the Seminoles offense to try to slow things down and give the FSU defense a rest. James Wilder Jr. and Devonta Freeman combined to go over 100 yards rushing in the season opener and both are likely to see plenty of carries against Nevada.
The Seminoles aren’t likely to be tested by an opponent at their talent level until they travel to Clemson on Oct. 19. But that’s not to say the Wolf Pack couldn’t still put a scare into the Seminoles if FSU gets caught looking ahead.
“It’s going to be an exciting game,” Winston said. “You never can look past anybody.”