Tuesday, September 24, 2013
FSU at the quarter pole
By David M. Hale
The first three games haven't provided much of a test for Florida State, but the Seminoles are nevertheless 3-0 at the quarter point of the season. While the biggest games still await, the first month of the season provided its share of fireworks, hype and impressive performances.
Best game: Florida State defeats Pittsburgh
The run-up to the game offered so many reasons for pessimism. Jameis Winston would get his first taste of college action on the road -- at a packed house in Pittsburgh for the Panthers' first ACC game. The defense was still figuring out a new scheme, and Pitt had playmakers. When Pitt scored first, taking an early 7-0 lead, those concerns appeared legitimate. Then Winston took command, and the Seminoles never looked back, cruising to a 41-13 win with a new star emerging at quarterback.
Best player: Winston
If there was any question whether Winston would deliver on his immense potential, they were alleviated early on. He played nearly flawlessly in his debut, followed that with another elite performance in the home opener, and has the fifth-best Total QBR in the country after three games. Before the season, Winston was an outside-the-box prediction for the Heisman. After three games, he's established himself as a legitimate contender. Of course, Winston's had some help from a stellar run game too, with Devonta Freeman and his 9.8 yards-per-carry average leading the way.
Best performance: Winston vs. Pitt
OK, so this is getting a bit repetitive, right? Still, it's impossible to ignore how good Winston was in his debut. He completed 25-of-27 passes -- including his first 11 in a row -- and accounted for five touchdowns in the win. His debut was the best of any quarterback against a team from an AQ conference in the past decade based on QBR, and given the immense spotlight that was on him leading up to the game, it was a performance Florida State fans won't soon forget.
After Lamarcus Joyner moved to corner this spring, the assumption was that Williams, a former five-star recruit, would finally earn a starting job at safety. It didn't happen, but FSU might've benefited from his stunted development on D. After the opener, Jimbo Fisher moved Williams to tailback, and the junior has taken to the new job like an old pro. His first carry was a 65-yard touchdown run, and through two games, he's racked up 193 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries.
Biggest disappointment: The pass rush
Last year's defensive line was among the best in the country, but all four starters moved on to the NFL. Florida State's defense figured to make up for that with a new, more aggressive scheme on D, but thus far, the results have been tepid. Timmy Jernigan has the team's only sack by a D-lineman, and the defense as a whole has managed just six through three games. Of the 17 tackles for loss FSU has managed thus far, only six have come from defensive linemen. Still, Fisher promises there's more fireworks in store as the games get bigger.