With Johnny Manziel’s shoulder injury and Tajh Boyd’s evisceration by the Florida State defense, only two front-runners from the season’s opening weekend remain at the pinnacle of Heisman contention.
Should Jameis Winston become the second straight redshirt freshman to win the prestigious award, FSU fans will face an even greater question: Can Jameis Winston be the best Seminoles quarterback in school history?
Charlie Ward’s 1993 Heisman Trophy season saw the star throw 27 touchdowns and only four picks. He posted those stats over 13 games. In only six games, Winston has thrown 20 touchdowns to a mere three interceptions. He’s playing out of his mind as a freshman and currently has a lethal 71.3 completion percentage.
It took Ward until his final season to reach a 69.5 completion percentage.
Given Winston’s lack of playing time and increased stats, one cannot deny that Winston is having a better season than Ward in the passing game. Of course, quarterbacks have better training these days. But can Famous Jameis run like the former Heisman Trophy winner?
Obviously, Winston finds a way to get things done on the ground. Winston’s legs have gained the FSU offense 137 yards with three touchdowns to boot. His most impressive ground performance came at Boston College, the only team that posed a serious threat to beat the Seminoles this season.
But what makes Charlie Ward special is he was truly one of the first modern dual-threat quarterbacks. Ward’s most impressive rushing performance came in 1992, not in 1993 (the year he won the Heisman Trophy). Ward rushed for 504 yards in his first season as Florida State’s starter, averaging an astonishing five yards per carry. He was the team’s second-leading rusher and had the second-most touchdowns on the ground.
Jimbo Fisher’s star quarterback has averaged nearly 2.9 yards per carry in 2013. So while Ward’s statistics are more impressive, one needs to factor age into this equation. Charlie Ward turned 22 during the 1992 season and had a chance to learn from quarterbacks before him.
In fact, Ward didn’t become the Seminoles’ starter until his fourth year in Tallahassee. Jameis Winston is putting up impressive stats on the ground in his second year (he was redshirted in 2012), even though he has a knockout tandem with James Wilder Jr. and Devonta Freeman to carry the rock.
Numbers don’t lie. It could be true that in 20 years when one looks back upon the ultimate Florida State quarterback, it won’t be Charlie Ward who is discussed in reverent whispers. Maybe Jameis will be the most famous of all.