FSU: Winston Matches Hype In Spring Game
By Eric Russell
Jameis Winston separated himself from the pack of players vying for the starting quarterback spot in Saturday's spring game. Winston's performance may have even played a role in Clint Trickett's decision to leave the program. Winston lived up to the hype that has surrounded him lately, leaving many in awe. He completed 12 of 15 passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns. Trickett also turned in a solid performance, finishing 22 of 32 for 259 yards and a touchdown.
Winston looks to be in the driver's seat now for the starting role. Winston has shown he is the most athletic of the group. The only real advantage Trickett had over him was experience from the bit of playing time he got during the last two seasons as EJ Manuel's backup.
Now with Trickett gone, the more athletic Winston is the leader at quarterback and Jacob Coker is his only competition. Winston is the most athletic of the two and will give the team the best chance to win.
While the aerial assault was taking place during the game, the running backs didn't make much noise. Injuries to James Wilder Jr. and Devonta Freeman left Chad Abram and a few walk-ons featured in the run game. Bot Wilder and Freeman will be back in time for the fall and they can be expected to produce similar to last season.
Kenny Shaw benefited from the absence of the running backs. Everybody knew Rashad Greene was a talented receiver for the Seminoles, but Shaw's emergence as both a deep threat and a guy who can move the chains is going to really help Florida State this fall. Shaw was only the recipient of 33 passes last season, but his performance Saturday will likely earn him more targets. Having another option will also bode well for the success of whoever earns the starting quarterback spot.
Florida State's defense lost many of its key contributors from last year's squad. Despite the seven touchdowns allowed, Saturday was a good sign in the effort to remain at the top defense in the conference. Nile Lawrence-Stample put to rest some of the worries about the Seminoles defense up front and their pass rush after losing Bjoern Werner, Tank Carradine and Brandon Jenkins. Lawrence-Stample recorded nine tackles and 3.5 sacks in the game. The pass rush was an integral part of last season's defensive scheme. The Seminoles led the conference in sacks with 36. It remains to be seen if new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt will have a similar philosophy for the defense.
As for Lamarcus Joyner's move back to cornerback, it got off to a shaky start. Joyner got beat by David Tyrrell on one of Winston's two touchdowns. One bright spot was Karlos Williams, who replaced All-ACC team member Joyner at the safety position. Williams intercepted Trickett and recorded eight tackles. The secondary is shaping up to be just as stingy as it was last season when it allowed only 162 yards a game.
The offense and defense are in good shape overall. New defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt has hit the ground running. The spring action was just a glimpse into what the fierce quarterback competition going through the summer and fall. If the talent shown in the spring game is any indication, the quarterback decision will be the only major question left to be answered — other than whether or not Fisher will name an offensive coordinator.