“We’re still not where we need to be right now, but we’re getting there.”
Linebacker Christian Jones, perhaps, said it best after Florida State's 62-7 win over the Nevada Wolf Pack, acknowledging the fact, that while the Seminoles look good, there's still a few wrinkles to iron out.
Jameis Winston, who took the nation by storm two weeks ago with his near-flawless performance against Pittsburgh, looked mortal for a bit of the first half on Saturday, making some ill-advised throws and reads, one of which went for an interception deep in Florida State's territory that Nevada converted into a touchdown.
Winston acknowledged he was trying to do too much, admitting to a television reporter after the game that he was "too crunk," and needed to calm down.
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The offense seemed to fix their troubles as the game went on, however, exploding for 62 points, the most they've scored since last year's season opener against Murray State, where they managed to put up 69.
Three different quarterbacks led touchdown drives (Winston, second-stringer Jacob Coker and third-stringer Sean Maguire), as well as having six different people score touchdowns. Winston was one of them, and he was joined by five running backs—James Wilder Jr., Devonta Freeman, Karlos Williams, Freddie Stevenson and Ryan Green.
Defensively, the 'Noles had a good performance, but as the case will be with a new defensive scheme and young players, mistakes were made, and points were given up. Though FSU held the Wolf Pack to seven points, the lowest Nevada has registered since September 2009 when they were shut out against Notre Dame.
Nevada managed to play their game for a good majority of the first half, opting to go with a slow-paced, no-huddle attack, instead of their usual fast-paced one, due to starting quarterback Cody Fajardo being held out with a knee injury.
“I mean we practiced [no-huddle] all week, and they did a really good job of preparing us for that,” said linebacker Terrance Brooks, adding. “It was actually slower than I thought it would be, and I felt like that in the end helped us and it hurt them more than anything.”
Most of the first half was eaten up by Nevada's run game, where they averaged over five yards a carry and held FSU to only 11 carries in the first half. Once again, the 'Noles fell behind to an inferior opponent, which, once again, caused the Florida State fanbase to freak out. For the players, however, they kept calm and collected, which is the lesson they've come to learn.
“It’s just everybody staying calm, knowing that Coach [Pruitt] has a plan,” said sophomore cornerback Tyler Hunter. “If everybody does their job, we’ll be fine. We just came to the sideline, made the adjustments and knew we’d be fine after that.”
So through two games, what have we learned about this Florida State team?
Without question, this is one of the top 10 teams in the country, without a talent level that may be unmatched outside of Tuscaloosa, Ala. There's potential for this team to grow into a top five team, but there's a lot that has to be done.
It became obvious that Winston was a first-year starter Saturday, with his admitted mistakes and mishaps. He looked better after he got comfortable, but when teams like Clemson match up against FSU instead of Nevada, there won't be time to get comfortable.
The defense is the same way. While it's nice to have a sense of confidence that they can play their way back into the game, there's a sense of urgency that must be discovered in this Seminole defense. Let an offense like Miami or Clemson's take an early lead, and things may end up much worse than a simple touchdown deficit.
But until then? Florida State just won 62-7 against a team that went to a bowl game last year. Jameis Winston still has more touchdowns (six) than incompletions (five) this season. Tyler Hunter is a solid defensive player. Karlos Williams may be the best-kept offensive secret in a long time.
They're not where they need to be, but they're getting there.
All quotes and paraphrases were obtained either firsthand or via phone, unless otherwise noted.