Last season, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston proved to be the best player in college football. This year, the redshirt sophomore has been just good enough for the Seminoles to remain undefeated.
No. 3 Florida State leads the rival Florida Gators 21-16 at halftime even though Winston has very little to do with his team’s first-half success.
Winston is fortunate the Seminoles are playing a lifeless Gators squad. The reigning Heisman Trophy placed his team at a major disadvantage during the first quarter with three interceptions.
Each of the throws were poorly placed or forced into coverage. Each time the Gators had the ball on Florida State’s side of the field, but the offensively-challenged Gators couldn’t capitalize with a touchdown even when Winston threw one of the interceptions from the end zone.
Florida State’s defense certainly rose to the occasion, though.
After Winston’s third interception of the first quarter, Florida’s freshman quarterback, Treon Harris, gave the ball right back to Florida State. The difference between Winston’s mistakes and Harris’ was the Seminoles defense was prepared to take advantage of Florida’s miscue. Linebacker Terrance Smith returned the interception 94 yards for Florida State’s initial touchdown.
Winston finished the half 8-of-17 passing for 72 yards and a pair of touchdown passes as well as the previously mentioned interceptions. The quarterback received plenty of help from the Seminoles rushing attack, too.
Florida State ran the ball for 105 yards through two quarters. Running back Dalvin Cook led the way with 73 yards on 10 carries.
Florida closed the gap late in the second quarter when Harris found Clay Burton in the end zone after the Gators blocked a Florida State punt.
The Seminoles have been a second-half team all season. Poor play during the first half shouldn’t come as a surprise. Winston and the offense should be expected to pour it on during the rest of the game.