Florida State freshman QB Jameis Winston's performance against Pittsburgh Monday night was one of the more eye-opening college football debuts I have seen. He not only carved up the Panthers, completing 25-of-27 passes for 356 yards and four touchdowns (plus one more rushing), he did it with the composure of a wily veteran.
Things we learned
From Johnny Manziel's controversial return to Washington's statement win, here are the 41 things we learned from the first weekend of college football play. More ...
You can make a lot of allowances for why players have success, especially for why they have success early. A lot of times we'll say, 'Well, you know, he was fortunate here. Well, you know, he was this there. Well, you know ...'
For me, that's too many well-you-knows.
Missing on just two passes with that many attempts speaks for itself, but the amazing part is Winston didn't play it safe. On a pass that could have been picked off in the first half, he threw a laser to the sideline that was wedged between two defenders for a completion.
But that's the type of gunslinger shot the great ones take. Are we going to sit here and say Brett Favre didn't throw balls like that? Dan Marino didn't take shots like that? Super-confident guys with big arms like Winston fire away. That's what they do. So, the idea he's never going to take a shot like that is folly. Yeah, he got away with one. But the great ones often do.
Even if that throw had been intercepted, it's still a phenomenal night for him, an unbelievable debut. You have to be selective about the shots you take, and he was; that was his only questionable throw of the night.
Overall, think about how composed he was. Think about how he managed that team. When it was time for a big throw, he made it. He also used his legs well in and out of the pocket. I thought his movement in the pocket was skillful. You could see why the hype was there.
He'll have some struggles along the way, no doubt, but I think he's legit. I can't wait to see the Seminoles travel to Clemson on Oct. 19 when Winston gets to play opposite Tajh Boyd. That should be fun.
I'm also waiting to see how Winston handles adversity. Every quarterback has to do it; there's no getting around it. There might be a game where he's 10-for-27 that could be one of the better games he plays just because he had to handle adversity. If he can find a way to win on a 10-for-27 day when everything is going haywire, that's when you know you have a real quarterback.
It's going to happen. It's just a matter of when and where.