Sunday, April 22, 2018
Colleges

No. 10 Florida State Seminoles rout Nevada Wolf Pack

TALLAHASSEE — Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston hadn't even taken his homefield yet when he drew Saturday's largest pregame ovation at Doak Campbell Stadium.

By the time he left 31/2 hours later, after FSU's 62-7 blowout of Nevada, students were chanting his name and celebrating the second chapter of his blossoming career.

The redshirt freshman responded to his first major mistake of the year — the self-inflicted adversity of his first interception — with six consecutive touchdown drives and zero incompletions in a 17-minute span to turn a scare into a massacre.

"What I liked about it was he made a mistake and he didn't get gun-shy," Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said. "He went right back into it and started making throws and making plays."

Winston needed to after he and his Seminoles (2-0) started slowly in his home debut in front of an announced crowd of 73,847.

The 6-foot-4, 228-pound Winston had the same number of incompletions on his first drive (two) as he did all game against Pitt in a season-opening 41-13 win. Kelvin Benjamin nearly snagged one of those incompletions, but his heel landed on the end line. And a James Wilder touchdown rush was negated by a penalty. (The Seminoles settled for Roberto Aguayo's 33-yard field goal.)

Winston's first pass of the second quarter sailed over Kenny Shaw and into the hands of Nevada's Bryston Keeton for FSU's first turnover of the year. The Wolf Pack (1-2) took a 7-3 lead four plays later when Devin Combs lobbed an 11-yard fade to Brandon Wimberly in the end zone.

After the interception, FSU offensive tackle Bobby Hart planned to walk over to Winston and encourage him — but Winston was already coming over to make sure Hart was staying positive.

"Adversity's here," Winston said. "What (are) you gonna do?"

After FSU went three-and-out on its next possession, Winston answered his question.

He regained his confidence with two bubble screens before throwing a 24-yard pass off his back foot to Shaw to give the 'Noles a 10-7 lead.

"After that," Winston said, "the show was on the road."

Winston ended the first half with an efficient two-minute drill: four passes, four completions, 56 yards and a 24-yard touchdown to a leaping Rashad Greene.

Then with 4:41 left in the third quarter, Winston faked a handoff and scrambled 10 yards for his second career rushing touchdown.

By the time Winston went to the bench with 18 minutes left in the game, he was 15-of-18 for 214 yards. After his team's only turnover, Winston completed all of his 13 passes and threw for 174 yards and both touchdowns. He was in the game for 42 of his team's 59 consecutive points that turned a four-point deficit into a rout.

In two wins, Winston has gone 40-of-45 for 473 yards and more touchdowns (six) than incompletions (five). Although his teammates said they expected him to overcome errors and a deficit, they were still encouraged at how well he played and how quickly he has matured.

"That's all part of things that until they happen, you don't know," Fisher said. "They're going to happen in bigger games and bigger moments. You just keep growing with it."

Matt Baker can be reached at [email protected]

 
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