Not content with just a Heisman Trophy and a national championship after his redshirt freshman season in 2013, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is tweaking his throwing mechanics this offseason in an effort to generate more power from his hips.
Head coach Jimbo Fisher thinks the change is a good idea.
"[Winston] hasn’t played up to his capability. He’s missed some throws," said Fisher, according to Jared Shanker of ESPN.com. "That’s part of it, you have to grind through it. Not everything is a utopia."
The public can be forgiven for mistaking Tallahassee with utopia. At least after the season it just witnessed. Florida State ran roughshod through the ACC en route to a 14-0 record and a national title, winning its games by an average of 39 points and out-gaining its opponents by an average of 238 yards.
Winston finished his first active year of college football with 4,057 passing yards, 40 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, completing 67 percent of his passes and logging by far the highest passer rating in the country at 184.55. Despite being left off 115 Heisman ballots completely—the ostensible result of a sexual assault investigation that state attorney Willie Meggs decided not to pursue mere days before the ceremony—Winston won the trophy by the seventh-largest voting margin ever.
But there is always room for improvement—especially for a player in college. Against Auburn in the national championship game, Winston had trouble in the first half with his accuracy and his throwing motion looked a little too labored.
This year, Winston loses receivers Kenny Shaw and Kelvin Benjamin, who might both find promising futures in the NFL. Even with Rashad Greene and tight end Nick O'Leary returning, this group of pass-catchers, while still very good, will almost definitely take a step back from last season, when it was probably the best in the country.
According to Shanker, Fisher "admonished" his team for "laziness" in Monday's practice, perhaps fearing a bit of complacency after having so much success, But he was in a cheerier mood come Wednesday:
Overall, Fisher was much more upbeat Wednesday than after Monday’s scrimmage, when he admonished the Seminoles for “laziness” and “unacceptable” mental mistakes. He was pleased with how the team responded to his message regard the need to remain motivated despite coming off a two-year run which produced a national championship and a 26-2 record.
“We got a lot more done. I thought we threw and caught the ball a lot better and ran the ball much better. And at times, the defense did some good things,” he said. “The intensity was much better and what a practice should be.
“... We’re not going to have a bad culture, a lazy culture or a soft culture.”
If Winston has indeed not reached his capability—which, despite his success, it is fair to say he hasn't—Fisher and QB coach Randy Sanders are wise not to let him rest on his laurels this offseason, especially as he alternates between football practice and pitching for the Florida State baseball team, which requires a different throwing motion.
In 2014, Winston will need to be just as good as, if not better than, he was as a freshman last year.
Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BLeighDAT
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