Sunday, November 17, 2013
What we learned: Week 12
By David M. Hale
Another week, another blowout victory in which the starters saw only a small taste of action in the second half. It’s getting tougher to find much meaning in the easy wins for Florida State, but this week’s thumping of Syracuse, 59-3, did uncover a few noteworthy items.
Winston doesn’t get rattled: The suspicions and distractions and diversions created a cloud of uncertainty at Florida State for much of the past week. However, for all the questions floating outside the locker room, there seemed to be little concern inside the Seminoles’ inner circle that Jameis Winston would be ready for the spotlight once again when he stepped back onto the field. Sure enough, Winston delivered — completing 19-of-21 passes for 277 yards and two touchdowns in another blowout win. Winston is the first quarterback since at least 2000 to have two games in the same season in which he completed at least 90 percent of his passes. And, of course, all of Winston’s damage came before the half. In fact, in his past four games, he's thrown just 22 passes and led seven drives in the second half.
Whitfield is electric: He touched the ball just twice in Saturday’s win, but each time the ball is in Kermit Whitfield’s hands, a big play is possible. Whitfield’s first touch against Syracuse came on a toss, which he took 74 yards for a touchdown (with an assist from Winston on a big downfield block). Whitfield now has 15 touches this season, which have gone for a combined 493 yards (average of 33 yards per touch) and three touchdowns. Tailback James Wilder Jr. said the toss that went for the long score was a play Florida State had practiced all week for Karlos Williams. But Whitfield is even faster, so on Saturday, it was the freshman who got the call. As the big plays continue to pile up (four of at least 30 yards in the past four games), Whitfield’s opportunities will only increase.
FSU’s defense is dominant: It’s not as if Wake Forest and Syracuse were offensive juggernauts, but that shouldn’t undermine what the Florida State defense is doing right now. For the second straight week, the Seminoles won by a score of 59-3 becoming the first team to score at least 59 and allow three or fewer in consecutive weeks since 1988. In those games, FSU’s defense -- which didn’t employ starters in the second half of either -- has allowed just 2.9 yards per play and forced nine combined turnovers. The first-team defense, which gave up just 68 yards on 30 first-half plays against Syracuse, has allowed a grand total of 21 points in its past six games. Florida State’s D has also scored 28 points during that span.