Statistical Over/Unders for Jameis Winston's Heisman Trophy Defense
Jameis Winston put together arguably one of the best freshman seasons in college football history, one that deserves a ranking among the best individual efforts of all time.
The Florida State quarterback was more than worthy of winning the Heisman Trophy and backed up that award with a thrilling comeback effort in the Seminoles win over Auburn in the BCS National Championship Game.
But this is America, land of the What Have You Done For Me Lately? And with Winston stuck in college for at least one more year before he's eligible to turn pro, it begs the question:
How will he top this in 2014?
It's been a mixed bag of results for reigning Heisman winners since Archie Griffin became the first and only two-time winner in 1974-75. Johnny Manziel's numbers went up, while Tim Tebow's dropped. Others, like Mark Ingram and Sam Bradford, had injury-plagued seasons.
While Heisman voting is a subjective endeavor, statistics aren't. With that in mind, check out the over/under lines we've set on Winston's numbers during his trophy defense.
Passing Yards Per Game
2013 total: 289.8
2014 over/under: 310.0
Winston threw for 4,057 yards on the season, and his per-game averaged ranked 13th in FBS. But his game-by-game swings were far more dependent on his playing time than his performance, with outputs ranging from 148, in limited action against FCS Bethune-Cookman, to 444, in Florida State's statement win at Clemson.
The Seminoles lost their top two running backs and their best receiver early to the NFL, departures that could sway Winston's yardage total either way. With Devonta Freeman and James Wilder no longer available for handoffs, he might pass more. Also, with stud wideout Kelvin Benjamin gone, Winston will have to look elsewhere for a go-to pass-catcher.
The final estimate is higher, though, because Winston will want to try and surpass as many of his 2013 numbers as possible to show they weren't fluke stats. 2012 winner Johnny Manziel followed a similar route, upping his yardage from 3,706 to 4,114.
2013 total: 40
2014 over/under: 42
Winston finished second nationally in this category, 10 behind Fresno State's Derek Carr. He averaged 2.86 touchdowns per game, a figure that could have been much higher had he spent more time on the field, rather than on the bench in the second half.
Winston's best single-game performance came in a 63-0 win over Maryland, when he threw five touchdowns, getting the last on the first play of the fourth quarter. Normally, though, his helmet was off long before then.
Expect Florida State to have to keep Winston in the game longer in 2014, which should give him more opportunities to pad his TD tally.
2013 total: 66.9
2014 over/under: 69.0
Winston finished 14th in the nation in completion percentage in 2013, but that number is skewed by the fact that seven of the passers ahead of him threw the ball between two and 142 fewer times.
Accuracy was never much of an issue for Winston—something he showed right off the bat by completing 25-of-27 passes in his debut against Pittsburgh. He never completed fewer than 52 percent of his throws in any game, with his 57.1 completion rate in the BCS National Championship Game serving as his third-worst rate of the season.
Look for his percentage to tick up slightly, as Winston works on checkdowns and other passing progression tactics to show scouts he doesn't get tunnel vision on a receiver.
2013 total: 10
2014 over/under: 12
Winston was picked off only 10 times in 384 attempts and never more than twice in a game. That happened just once—in Florida State's early November thrashing of Miami (Fla.)—when he was intercepted twice during the first half and contributed to the Seminoles leading only 21-14 through two quarters.
Winston faced four teams that finished 2013 in the top 50 in passing defense, and those teams (Clemson, Florida, North Carolina State and Pittsburgh) accounted for three of his interceptions, but also 13 touchdowns.
In 2014, he'll again face Clemson, Florida and NC State and also Louisville and Notre Dame teams that had top-15 defenses in 2013.
2013 total: 184.8
2014 over/under: 175.0
Winston's passer rating led FBS in 2013, more than 10 points better than Baylor's Bryce Petty. That broke Michael Vick's 1999 FBS record for a freshman and was pretty close to Russell Wilson's all-time mark of 191.78, set in his one year at Wisconsin in 2011.
Winston's stat would have been higher with a better completion percentage and a few less turnovers, but it was aided greatly by his 10.57 yards-per-attempt average. He'll be hard-pressed to top his 2013 mark, but even with a solid efficiency rating in 2014, he's got a great shot of besting Sam Bradford's career mark of 175.6.
2013 total: 4
2014 over/under: 10
Winston didn't run very much in his first season, netting just 219 yards. But he did have several key scrambles, including a 17-yard touchdown run late in the first half of Florida State's ACC title game win over Duke, and a 21-yard scamper that set up a critical score just before halftime in the national title contest with Auburn.
Winston used his speed and mobility more to move around the pocket and buy time for his receivers to get open. Though, that led to some unnecessary sacks when he could have checked down to an outlet receiver or tucked it and run. Look for FSU to put in a few more designed runs in 2014, especially near the goal line, as well as expect Winston to take off sooner when his first or second receiving option isn't there.
2013 total: 28
2014 over/under: 20
Winston was sacked an average of twice per game in 2013—a rather high number considering the reputation of Florida State's offensive line—Rimington Trophy winner Bryan Stork, at center, and standouts at left tackle (Cameron Erving) and right guard (Tre' Jackson).
But Joel Erickson of AL.com noted that Winston often tended to hold the ball too long, looking for a deep receiver to get open, rather than find a safety valve or just run with it. This enabled even mediocre defensive lines to get pressure eventually, thus the high sack tally.
This number should drop significantly in 2014, if only because Winston will be trying to showcase his professional skills, and being sack-prone doesn't do well for one's draft stock.
2013 total: 14
2014 over/under: 12
Florida State will go into 2014 as a strong candidate to repeat as national champs, and with the advent of the College Football Playoff, a team could win 15 games if they play in a conference title game and then the semifinals and finals of the new postseason format.
But the Seminoles' schedule is much tougher this fall, starting with an opener against Oklahoma State at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Tex., along with a visit from Notre Dame, and a trip to Louisville in a 12-day stretch in October.
Alabama managed to surpass its win total when it repeated in 2012, but that's partly due to the Crimson Tide playing one more game than the year before.
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