Jameis Winston’s teammates might not come right out and say it, but early on in the redshirt freshman’s career, he has run Florida State’s complicated offense about as well as anyone since Jimbo Fisher has arrived in Tallahassee — and that includes two first-round draft picks.
“Yes this has been [the best the offense has run since I’ve been here],” said junior wide receiver Rashad Greene [Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas]. “The offense started clicking and going a little faster than we have in past years, and I like it.”
Winston has started his career 40 of 45 through his first two games, he has thrown for 570 yards and has one more touchdown than incompletion through two games as the Florida State starter.
“Since I’ve been here, it has [run the best I’ve seen it this year],” said senior wide receiver Kenny Shaw when asked about the efficiency of the Seminole offense. “It’s more fast, it’s more up-tempo and then the key is to get the calls and get lined up, that’s the key to it.”
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Winston hasn’t been perfect, both he and Fisher can point out several mistakes at any given time that the talented young signal-caller could correct. But to pretend that Florida State’s offense hasn’t looked more explosive in the first two weeks of 2013 than it has in years would also be foolish.
Florida State ran 63 offensive plays Saturday afternoon and scored 62 points. They averaged 9.79 yards per offensive snap, and when Fisher’s unit was firing on all cylinders it was nearly unstoppable — scoring on nine consecutive possessions before the game clock expired to kill their final drive.
Though EJ Manuel was taken 16th overall by the Buffalo Bills in April, it’s possible Winston is already running Florida State’s offense better than he did.
“He has a great touch, and he always knows where the defenders are,” Greene said. “And he’s able to throw back shoulder, just perfect balls, he throws them and I pretty much just have to put my hands up.”
Saturday against the Wolf Pack, Winston saw the Seminole offense sputtered early. With fans watching ESPN’s “next big thing in college football,” Florida State managed just three points on their first possession, and Winston tossed an interception that set up a Nevada touchdown.
But with Winston and the Florida State offense trailing 7-3 late in the second quarter, they got rolling.
“He grew from [his interception], he knew what he did, we explained it to him,” Fisher said. “[Jameis] was fine then, took the sack the next drive; he didn’t panic and came back the next two drives and got us going. What I liked about it was he made a mistake and he didn’t get gun shy, he went right back into it and started making throws and making plays.”
After starting 2 of 5 for 30 yards and a pick, Winston completed his next 13 passes, finishing 15 of 18 for 214 yards and two touchdowns. He also added a score on the ground in the third quarter.
While Manuel is in Buffalo learning a system that he admits could be simpler than Fisher’s, Florida State might have a passer who is finally right to make their offense purr.
“You’ve got to remember he’s just a freshman,” Fisher reminds everyone.