Florida State Seminoles: Player of the Week

Player of the week: ACC

December, 9, 2013
It’s perhaps appropriate that the ACC season ended much as it began, with Florida State freshman quarterback Jameis Winston compiling another spectacular performance in a game in which the Seminoles again dominated.

Back in September, Winston’s career began with a win over Pitt in which he threw for 356 yards and accounted for five touchdowns. On Saturday, Winston wrapped up an ACC championship and secured a trip to Pasadena for the VIZIO BCS National Championship Game by throwing for 330 yards and accounting for four touchdowns in a 45-7 victory over Duke.

It’s a statement to Winston’s consistent excellence this season that Saturday’s performance, for which he earned the game’s MVP trophy, might have been one of his worst starts of the season. His 69.9 Total QBR was his lowest of any of his 13 games, and it was just the second time this year he threw two interceptions in one game.

Still, if Winston struggled, it was briefly.

The Heisman Trophy frontrunner opened the game completing just 1 of 6 throws, but he wasn’t off by much. Four of the five incomplete passes hit his receivers’ hands, but they couldn’t hang on for the catch. After a scoreless first quarter, however, Winston finished 16-of-24 passing for 288 yards and three touchdowns, and racked up 58 yards on nine rushes, including another TD. Florida State ran off 45 consecutive points, and the game was effectively decided midway through the third quarter.

With one game remaining, Winston has 38 touchdown passes and 3,820 passing yards — both ACC and FBS records for a freshman. He’s thrown for more touchdowns than any quarterback in Florida State history. Winston ranks second in the nation in touchdown throws, first in yards per attempt and first in QB rating.

Winston’s big game against Duke was his sixth this season with at least four touchdowns and his seventh throwing for at least 300 yards.

Player of the week: ACC

December, 2, 2013
It’s been a dismal season for Florida, a team bruised and battered and cast out of the postseason for the first time in nearly a quarter-century. But of all the problems in Gainesville this year, the secondary wasn’t one of them.

[+] EnlargeFlorida State celebration
Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsKelvin Benjamin torched what had been one of the nation's best defensive backfields.
At least, it wasn’t until Kelvin Benjamin took the field Saturday.

Florida State’s sophomore receiver had a career day, torching the Gators’ defense for 212 yards and three touchdowns en route to a 37-7 victory that assured the Seminoles of a perfect regular season and, after Alabama lost later that day, a No. 1 ranking in the BCS standings.

Benjamin’s numbers were impressive by any measure. He became the first Florida State receiver in 11 years to top the 200-yard mark, and the crazy part is that it could have been even more. He had two costly drops on potential big plays, and quarterback Jameis Winston narrowly overthrew him on yet another play that appeared destined for the end zone. Five touchdowns and nearly 400 yards wouldn’t have been out of the question if Benjamin had simply reeled in every pass he had his hands on.

Florida entered the game ranked No. 2 in the nation in pass defense with a secondary stocked with NFL-caliber talent. In the past five years, 44 teams had failed to compile as many yards through the air as Benjamin corralled by himself Saturday.

During his first two years in Tallahassee, teammates raved about Benjamin’s practice-field highlights. This season, he’s finally translated that success to Saturdays. This season, Benjamin leads the ACC with 12 receiving touchdowns, is fifth in yards per catch (18.6) and 10th in receiving yards (838).

Player of the week: ACC

October, 21, 2013
In the aftermath of Florida State's dominant, 51-14 victory at Clemson on Saturday, there's ample praise to go around the Seminoles' locker room. In fact, five FSU players earned ACC player of the week honors in their respective position groups. But while there were several impressive performances, the big day for the Seminoles all began with Lamarcus Joyner.

[+] EnlargeLamarcus Joyner
Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY SportsLamarcus Joyner forced three turnovers at Clemson.
Clemson's first play from scrimmage was a pass to Stanton Seckinger. Joyner made the tackle, jarring the ball free in the process. Three plays later, Florida State had a lead it never relinquished.

Of course, that was hardly the end of Joyner's magic in Death Valley. On Clemson's third possession, Joyner came on a corner blitz and sacked Tajh Boyd, who coughed up the football. Mario Edwards Jr. scooped it up and rumbled into the end zone to give FSU a 17-0 lead. Joyner finished the hat trick in the second quarter, picking off a Boyd pass, his first INT of the year. Florida State added a field goal on that drive.

The parade of takeaways was Joyner's most obvious contribution to Saturday's win, but he also helped shadow Sammy Watkins throughout the game and was part of a secondary that held Boyd to just 17-of-37 passing in one of the worst games of his career. Joyner finished with eight tackles.

Still, all of those numbers don't tell the whole story.

"You're seeing the rewards. But what he takes away sometimes, even when he's not making plays, has been tremendous for our football team," Jimbo Fisher said.

For the season, Joyner is second on the team with 33 tackles and leads the Seminoles with three sacks.

Player of the week: ACC

October, 7, 2013
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Jameis Winston's start to the 2013 season is that it still seems so remarkable. The redshirt freshman entered the year with immense hype, and he delivered a debut for the ages. From there, the expectations have grown each week, and yet Winston somehow still manages to exceed them. His performance in a 63-0 win over Maryland on Saturday might have been his best yet.

The Terrapins came to Tallahassee ranked No. 25 in the nation, armed with a top-10 defense and the hope that this would be the year they'd finally unseat Florida State after 11 consecutive defeats at Doak Campbell Stadium. Winston quickly dashed those hopes and gashed that previously stout defense.

For the game, Winston completed 23-of-32 passes for a career-high 393 yards and five touchdowns without an interception. The fourth of those scores was a Houdini-like escape act in which Winston slipped through a sure tackle, emerged from the scrum, rolled out of the pocket and hit Nick O'Leary in the end zone.

"I actually held the ball too long," Winston said. Critiquing highlight-reel touchdowns has become the norm for a quarterback with little else in the way of flaws.

For the season, Winston is completing 73 percent of his throws, and he has accounted for 19 touchdowns in five games. In each of his three games vs. ACC opponents he has topped 300 yards and thrown at least four touchdown passes. That's a feat that his predecessor, EJ Manuel, did just once in his career.


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