- David M. Hale, ESPN Staff Writer
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Remember the talk before Monday night about the overhyped quarterback and the obvious trap game circumstances in Pittsburgh? That talk didn't last long. Here's what we learned about Florida State in Week 1 instead ...
Believe the hype: Before it's all over, Jameis Winston will play in somewhere between 23 and 55 more games at FSU, so there's plenty of history left to be written before anyone crowns him as an all-time great. But as far as debuts go, they don't get much better than this. Winston was 25-of-27 passing for 356 yards and four TDs (there was a fifth on the ground), shattering even the most extreme expectations. Before the game, it was easy to wonder if all the hype was too much for a guy making his first start on the road amid massive expectations. Now, the only question is what he'll do for an encore.
The freshmen got to play: Winston wasn't the only freshman to make some noise Monday. Demarcus Walker and Jalen Ramsey both got starting nods on defense, with Ramsey hauling in a first-half interception and making four tackles. Roberto Aguayo connected on both of his field-goal attempts. Isaiah Jones and Ryan Green saw some late action as well. FSU got a chance to see a lot of youngsters Monday, and that bodes well moving forward.
The defense is a work in progress: There was plenty to like about how FSU played, forcing a couple of turnovers (and having their hands on a few more potential takeaways) while essentially shutting down Pitt's offense in the second half. But Pitt's Tom Savage isn't going to be the most challenging QB the defense faces all season, and still, the Seminoles' defense didn't get much pressure unless they brought the blitz. That's a bit of a concern, as were the numerous big plays Pitt made by getting outside the tackles. There's work to be done, and DC Jeremy Pruitt will no doubt be pushing the unit hard before Nevada arrives in Week 3, but at the end of the day, FSU still allowed just 297 total yards of offense.
Depth issues? What depth issues?: Maybe Florida State's limited depth chart at receiver and tight end will be an issue at some point down the road -- and certainly, one injury in either area could be a major problem -- but it was smooth sailing Monday. Nick O'Leary finally delivered a game that so many fans had assumed would be the norm when he arrived, becoming Winston's favorite end-zone target and catching three TDs. Meanwhile, the veteran receivers looked the part, as Rashad Greene, Kenny Shaw and Kelvin Benjamin combined for 17 catches, 293 yards and a touchdown.
4dDavid M. Hale
4dDavid M. Hale