The hype started in spring and built up over the summer.
It grew in the preseason and reached a crescendo this past week.
Then Florida State and Pittsburgh kicked off on Monday night and Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston calmly walked out onto the field and lived up to the hype.
All of it.
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound redshirt freshman completed 25 of 27 passes for 356 yards and four touchdowns (with no interceptions) and added another 25 yards rushing (with a score) in FSU’s 41-13 win over the Panthers.
Winston made it look easy against the hapless Pitt defense, hitting open targets and setting the school single-game completion percentage record while running the Seminoles’ attack with the poise of a seasoned veteran. The excellence he displayed in his debut overwhelmed a good early showing by the Panther offense and spurred the Seminoles to their fourth-straight season-opening win. On this night, at least, the ‘Noles looked like a national title contender.
Before the hype gets too out of control, though, consider that Pitt is not really a good barometer for where FSU stands as a team. The Panthers just didn’t have the talent to contain the ‘Noles. But other teams coming up on the schedule will be more familiar with the tendencies of Jimbo Fisher’s offense and that is when Winston will truly be tested. Last year’s FSU team was loaded with talent, but it still found a way to lose to North Carolina State.
But forget about that for now. FSU fans have a valid reason to feel good after tonight. After all, they’ve got at least two full years to watch this elite talent lead their team. It should be a fun ride. The challenge for Fisher will be to manage the expectations and not put too much on his young freshman, especially when it comes to the playbook. The challenge for Winston is to stay resilient when the inevitable drop-off from tonight’s otherworldly production takes place.
Is Winston a legit Heisman candidate? I’d say that’s a bit premature. Yes, voters gave the Heisman to a freshman last season, but based on the perception of how that’s played out, they might think twice before doing it again.
With the start of summer camp just up the block and around the corner, Colorado State has seen its secondary take a rather significant hit.
A CSU official has confirmed to the Loveland Reporter Herald that Preston Hodges has been dismissed from Mike Bobo‘s football program. The Reporter Herald writes that Hodges “had become academically ineligible and was dismissed from the team.”
The past three seasons, Hodges had started 28 games in the Rams’ secondary. Eight of those starts came at cornerback last season.
Exiting the spring, the senior Hodges was listed No. 2 on the depth chart at one of the safety spots.
In addition to Hodges, offensive lineman Blake Nowland is no longer on the team’s roster. There was no reason given for his departure.
After playing in three games as a redshirt freshman in 2014, Nowland missed the entire 2015 season because of a broken leg.
There is a new preseason favorite for the 2016 Heisman Trophy, at least as far as Bovada is concerned.
The betting service Tuesday listed LSU running back Leonard Fournette checks in with the best odds at 9/2. He moved ahead of Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson, whose odds went from 9/2 in January to 5/1 now.
Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey’s odds moved to 11/2 while Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, Florida State running back Dalvin Cook and Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield are all at 12/1.
Several players were added to the board since January, including UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen (16/1), Alabama running back Bo Scarbrough (20/1) and Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham (28/1).
The group of newcomers also includes both of the competitors to be Notre Dame’s starting quarterback. DeShone Kizer and Malik Zaire are both set at 28/1.
Oklahoma defensive back Jordan Thomas was arrested early Thursday morning and stands accused of three offenses.
Cleveland (Oklahoma) County sheriff arrest records show the 20-year-old Thomas was booked at 2:45 a.m. on charges of assault and battery, public intoxication and interference.
A school spokesperson told The Tulsa World the department is aware of and monitoring the situation.
Thomas, who reportedly has been released on bond, was second on the Sooners with nine pass defended last season and was credited with 46 tackles. He had five interceptions.
The World notes Thomas has been in trouble both with the law and the team previously.
Thomas was jailed in Grady County before last year’s Orange Bowl after failing to appear in court following a traffic citation.
The junior also has faced issues on the team. He missed the first quarter of the 2015 opener against Akron and the entire Tulsa game for undisclosed disciplinary reasons.
The Sooners won the Big 12 last season and made the College Football Playoff.
They are expected to be contenders again this season and have a showdown with Ohio State looming in Norman on Sept. 17.
Ohio State has quietly added Joker Phillips and Brian Knorr — two experienced college coaches — to Urban Meyer’s staff.
Although the athletics department has not made an announcement yet, Phillips is listed in Ohio State’s employee directory as a sports program associate with the working title of “Football QC – kicking,” which presumably means he is a quality control assistant for the Ohio State kicking game.
Knorr is listed simply as an athletics intern.
Of the two, Phillips is the more experienced. Now 53, he began his coaching career as a G.A. at Kentucky, his alma mater, and eventually spent six seasons as a full-time receivers coach for the Wildcats in the early 1990s.
He also coached at Minnesota, Notre Dame and South Carolina before returning to Lexington as an assistant and eventually rising to head coach in 2010.
The Wildcats went just 13-24 in his three seasons, and he spent last year as wide receivers coach of the Cleveland Browns. He also spent a season coaching receivers at Florida, where he was found guilty of a level two recruiting violation.
Knorr was most recently the defensive coordinator at Indiana. He spent two seasons in Bloomington after six at Wake Forest.
A Kansas native, he played quarterback at Air Force and previously worked in the Buckeye State as an assistant to Jim Grobe and then Frank Solich at Ohio University from 1995-2004.
The Hoosiers ranked last in the Big Ten in scoring defense and total defense last season, and he was replaced by Tom Allen in January.