TALLAHASSEE — Redshirt freshman QB Jameis Winston came into Saturday's game against Bethune-Cookman with just five incompletions — one fewer than the number of touchdown passes he threw in his first two outings.
Winston completed his first two passes Saturday, giving him a streak of 15 consecutive completions dating to the previous weekend's 62-7 win against Nevada.
But as the first half wore on against B-CU, the young quarterback's accuracy waned, and Winston went into halftime having completed 7 of 16 attempts.
Winston led just one drive in the second half before being replaced by Jacob Coker with the Seminoles leading 40-0. Winston finished with 148 yards and two touchdowns through the air, including an eye-catching, 11-yard heave to wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin in the end zone after escaping a tackle.
With the help of Winston, Florida State won big. But coach Jimbo Fisher saw room for improvement from his new quarterback.
"He had three or four dropped balls and one or two bad reads I would like to take back," Fisher said. "He's got a lot of room to grow."
Despite Winston's natural ability, Fisher insists it doesn't get to the quarterback's head. Winston can recognize his mistakes, and the desire to fix them motivates him, Fisher said.
"He loves the game. He listens, and he knows when there's a certain tone or a certain look," Fisher said. "Keeping him grounded is not a problem."
Smith steps up: LB Christian Jones and DT Eddie Goldman were suspended for the game after a violation of team rules. Terrance Smith, who made his first career start, replaced Jones in the lineup. Smith finished with a team-leading 12 tackles — eight in the first half — and a sack.
The absence of Jones, who was second on the team with 13 tackles before Saturday's game, was certainly a loss for the Seminoles. Fisher, though, chose to focus on Smith's big gains.
"I'm very proud of him," Fisher said. "He made plays."
RARE TWO POINTS: The Seminoles scored a safety after a Bethune-Cookman holding penalty in the end zone in the second quarter. It was the first safety FSU has had in 65 games. The last occurred against Colorado in 2008, when current Buc Dekoda Watson blocked a punt in the end zone.
This and that: Florida State is 3-0 for the third consecutive season. … DB Tyler Hunter, who had his fourth career interception against Nevada, sustained a neck contusion in the first half and never returned in the second. … Despite trailing 33-0 at the half, Bethune-Cookman dominated the time of possession before the break, 18:13 to 11:47. … K Roberto Aguayo is still perfect after making seven extra points and a field goal Saturday. (He has 20 extra points and five field goals on the season.)
Kelly Parsons can be reached at [email protected]