Facing the defense leading the nation in sacks? That's a breeze. Suddenly in the forefront of the Heisman race? No big deal. ESPN wants to make the interview live? Sure thing.
So far this season, Jameis Winston has handled both the pressure from opposing teams and from his own mushrooming hype with ease. That follows the refrain from teammates and coaches about Winston's level-headed demeanor before the season starts, but seeing it in action has been no less impressive through the first half of the season.
The clearest example of both aspects came during FSU's shellacking of Clemson, when not even the Tigers' sack-happy defense could consistently bother Winston. In fact, according to ESPN statistics, Winston racked up 293 yards against the blitz on Saturday. What's more, he's continued to excel in third down and long: On plays of 3rd and 10 or more, Winston is 10-10 passing with 202 yards, two touchdowns, nine first-down conversions and a whopping 335.68 passer rating.
Winston deflected the credit to his offensive line - and it's a valid point as left tackle Cameron Erving and Co. held Vic Beasley, the nation's sack leader, to just two tackles. But Clemson wasn't the only team to use a blitz-heavy approach to try and flummox Winston. Boston College and Maryland both threw every blitz in the book at FSU, and Seminole offensive linemen say they've seen a wide variety of fire blitzes and various exotic looks.
None of it has appeared to bother Winston.
"I really don't see the blitz, I feel the blitz," Winston said. "Fisher talks about it, feel the blitz and get the ball out of your hands. I know if two people are fixing to come this way I've got to go over there and something's going to get smoothed out so I'm not going to be in a bad situation.
"I tend to not get surprised by something coming because I'm always expecting the worst."
Winston's been equally good at handling the ever-increasing spotlight on him as well; as the leader of FSU's ariel attack, he continues to stay remarkably grounded. On Wednesday, Winston's weekly interview was streamed live by ESPN. That's just a few days removed from being swarmed by national media at Clemson. From a stirring pregame speech in front of television cameras to a 444-yard passing performance, Winston handled the spotlight with the same ease as he did Clemson's pressure.
Jimbo Fisher said Winston has always been even-keel with the attention around him, even before he arrived at FSU.
"You discuss those things, but you have those traits as leaders," Fisher said. "People talk about leaders are made, I don't buy all that. I think some are born. They have that 'it factor', and God bless those some of them."
Winston's interactions with the media all season have followed a similar script -deflect the praise to teammates, praise Fisher, throw in a few winning smiles, rinse, repeat. Winston called the hoopla 'clutter' but said it wasn't necessarily a bad thing.
"People say a lot of things in the press clippings and on TV and stuff," Winston said. "But that's clutter. I've got to stay within the team
But when you're winning, that's the fun clutter."
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