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Jameis Winston needs to get back to playing loose

AP Photo/Aaron M. Sprecher
FSU's Jameis Winston didn't meet expectations in a season-opening win over Oklahoma State.

One of the things that set Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston apart last year was that he played with such joy. He played loose, fast, easy and with confidence. Nothing seemed to tighten him up at all, even though he was only a redshirt freshman.

This year, it's a little bit different for him. He's defending a Heisman Trophy and a national title. He's expected to be great in every game, and I didn't see Winston play with the same looseness when I watched him on Saturday night against Oklahoma State.

His performance actually reminded me of Reggie Bush's in the 2006 national championship game, when USC played Texas. Bush won the Heisman that season after much debate over whether he or Longhorns quarterback Vince Young was more deserving of the trophy.

In that game, I thought Reggie came out and pressed. He uncharacteristically forced runs and didn't let things come to him. I think the pressure of being the Heisman winner got to him, and he played like he was trying to justify being the winner.

I saw a lot of the same things from Winston on Saturday night. I thought he played tight. He forced a few throws. I didn't see the same ease that he had last year.

He still made some big plays -- his 28-yard TD run vs. the Cowboys was tremendous -- in leading the Seminoles to a 37-31 win and remains one of college football's top talents. No one wants to game-plan against him, but I didn't see improvement in areas like footwork and shortening his delivery on Saturday.

He'll get comfortable again -- playing like he did on Saturday is just not him. Improvement in the areas where he needs to grow might eventually show. But if that's the worst we see of him this year, then the Seminoles are in good shape. It's probably a good thing for FSU that it struggled a bit.

Coach Jimbo Fisher can go to Winston and the rest of the team and hammer home the point that they still have plenty to work on after that opening performance.

Hundley made leap in Week 1

Like Winston, UCLA's Brett Hundley is a top quarterback who didn't quite match his offseason hype in the season opener.

However, just as Winston did, Hundley made plays when he needed to and led UCLA to a win at Virginia on Saturday. I think what he experienced in that game will help him grow.

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Hundley had to deal with coordinator Jon Tenuta's defense, which pressured him consistently with a variety of blitzes. UCLA was missing its starting center -- Jake Brendel -- and that was a big deal for the Bruins. The offensive line struggled to protect Hundley, and the quarterback's eyes started focusing on the players pressuring him instead of his targets downfield. He struggled with it in the first half, but while the pressure never abated in the second half, Hundley did a much better job of handling it. He stopped focusing on just the rush. His six-yard TD run in the third quarter was a thing of beauty, as was his 3rd-and-9 completion to Jordan Payton for a first down on the game's final possession.

He competed all game long even though he didn't have his best stuff and made a leap as a quarterback in the second half. I suspect he'll settle in and play better as UCLA goes along.

Keep expectations within reason for Kenny Hill

There's no doubt Texas A&M has something special in Kenny Hill, Johnny Manziel's replacement, after he threw for an Aggies single-game record 511 yards against South Carolina in Week 1.

Let's not hold him to that standard going forward, OK?

He might never approach that many yards again in one game and still have a monster career. That's how good he was on opening night. He definitely looks the part.

Mariota, Cook gear up for showdown

Oregon's Marcus Mariota and Michigan State's Connor Cook both shined against lesser competition in Week 1, with Mariota leading his team to a win over South Dakota, and Cook doing the same for the Spartans against Jacksonville State.

Both of those guys are way too smart to savor those victories for long, though. The competition gets cranked up this week as they prepare to face off in Saturday's game in Eugene, which is one of the most anticipated contests of the season.

I'll be on the call for that game and can't wait to see those two players lead their teams into battle.

Follow Charles Davis on Twitter @CFD22.

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