Jameis Winson, Florida State overcome early drought to top BC, set sights on Terps

September 28, 2013

(Associated Press)

UPDATE (8:00 p.m.): FSU Coach Jimbo Fisher closed his postgame press conference answering a question about Maryland. It quickly switched into generic comments about talking things one game at a time.

“We’ll have our hands full,” he said. “And here’s the thing. When you’re ranked where we are, you’re going to get everybody’s A game. It’s like walking through the neighborhood. You’re the new kid on the block. Every block you go to, you’re in a fight. Somebody’s going to test you. That’s where we’re at right now. Everybody’s going to test us.

“So we better understand, we’re in a fight every time we play. We’re getting everybody’s A game. We’re on one-game seasons. That’s what we have. We have a one-game season every week. We have to learn to understand that. And we have to prepare for that, and we have to practice like that and we have to play like that.”

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — Through three college games, Florida State redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston has earned the nickname “Famous Jameis” and has been depicted as Jesus Christ on T-shirts (the school was not pleased, issuing a cease-and-desist letter to halt production of the shirts). His legend, one that began this spring before he even attempted a meaningful college pass, continued to grow Saturday against Boston College

Stunned by an early Boston College burst that had the host Eagles up 17-3 and thinking upset, Winston rallied his troops with seven straight completions before halftime, including a miraculous, GIF-worthy 55-yard prayer to wide receiver Kenny Shaw as time expired. The Seminoles, ranked eight nationally, rolled from there, going up 38-20 in the third quarter and ultimately winning, 48-34.

With Maryland visiting Florida State next weekend for an enticing matchup of ACC Atlantic Division unbeatens — and the Eagles coming to College Park for the Byrd Stadium finale on Nov. 23 — here are three key takeaways from today’s action at Boston College:

1) Winston is for real: Save some early road jitters for the redshirt freshman, including several gutsy throws into traffic, Winston was stellar. That buzzer-beating touchdown pass will make all the Saturday night highlight shows, but he also showed solid mobility when the pocket collapsed and forced him to take off. His 74 rushing yards on 13 carries were a team high, not to mention 330 yards passing and four touchdowns. Maryland defensive coordinator Brian Stewart should have a heck of a time scheming for the best quarterback the Terrapins will face to date, and much of their potential success will hinge on their ability to generate pressure on Winston.

A Maryland secondary depleted by injury played its finest game of the season during a 37-0 drubbing of West Virginia last weekend, but the test grows taller next weekend at Doak Campbell Stadium. FSU wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin caught three passes for 103 yards and, at 6 feet 5, is five inches taller than any Maryland cornerback. Shaw and Rashad Greene caught four passes and topped 90 yards apiece. too.

This Florida State offense has scored at least 40 points in four straight weeks. Maryland’s defense ranks in the top 20 in most national categories. Something will give down in Tallahassee.

2) Florida State’s defense can be beat: Boston College ground-and-pounded its way to an early lead on simple counter plays, opening space and allowing running back Andre Williams to reach the second level. First-year coach Steve Addazio, formerly of Temple, also dialed up several misdirection plays, rolling quarterback Chase Rettig to his right before jump-throwing to the left, where the Seminoles had all but abandoned coverage. Rettig’s four touchdowns were a career high, and his two interceptions came first on a miscommunication with receiver Alex Amidon — which Florida State returned to the end zone — and a last-ditch heave into tight coverage in the fourth quarter.

If things turn into a shootout next Saturday — game time still TBA — Maryland’s bounty of offensive playmakers can’t afford to slow down. Stefon Diggs, C.J. Brown and company need to keep pace.

3) Don’t slouch on Boston College: The Eagles don’t visit Byrd Stadium until late November, and a contending Maryland team has plenty of consequential games until then, but as friend Patrick Stevens tweeted, Boston College switched out of “Nuisance Mode” and entered more legitimate territory. Amidon ranks among the ACC’s most reliable receivers, Rettig can sling with the best of them and first-year defensive coordinator Don Brown recently held the same position at Maryland. The Eagles hung tough against Florida State and, for a substantial period of time, had Twitter buzzing about an upset. At the very least, Boston College might cause some top-tier teams anguish this season.

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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Alex Prewitt · September 28, 2013