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September 2, 2013
Turns out,Jameis Winston was all kinds of ready.
The much-hyped redshirt freshman came out slinging and led FSU to a 41-13 win at Pittsburgh on Monday.
"He did a good job of keeping himself poised and competing in the moment," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. "He had a good game."
'Good' is something of an understatement. Winston put on a clinic in the first half, completing his first 11 passes. He finished the first half 17 of 18 with 240 yards and three touchdowns through the air and added another on the ground.
Florida State didn't hesitate to go to Winston early - the Seminoles opened with two passing plays instead of playing conservatively with the run.
Pittsburgh led after gouging FSU's defense for big gains in an nine-play, 80-yard scoring drive to open the game. But by the tail end of the first quarter, Winston and the FSU offense came alive.
The Seminoles reeled off four straight touchdowns - all from Winston either passing or running - and took command of the game. By the time Winston came out of the game in the fourth quarter, He had 356 yards and completed 25 of 27 passes for four touchdowns passing. His 92.6 percent completion rate was a Florida State record.
"I got protected all night," Winston said. "When it's coming that easy like that and I've got guys to throw the ball to and guys protecting me on the right side, left side and running backs, any quarterback to go out there."
FSU's defense rallied after looking lost on Pittsburgh's opening drive and giving up big chunks of yardage, but slowly settled down as the game went on.
"It was more of a mental thing," Telvin Smith said. "We adjusted a little bit, but it was more mental than anything."
Freshman cornerback Jalen Ramsey surprisingly broke into the starting lineup just before kickoff and broke through with a game-changing interception that ended Pittsburgh's second drive and set up FSU's first score. Ramsey's pick also settled FSU's defensive unit down after a rocky first two series.
"That momentum swing was definitely big for us," safety Terrence Brooks said. "It got the butterflies out a little bit. We just needed to settle in. that was the biggest thing."
Before Ramsey's interception, Pittsburgh amassed 101 yards on two drives. After the pick, the Panthers only had 77 yards in the final four drives of the half.
FSU increasingly ratcheted up the defensive pressure. Brooks had a pick and two more near-interceptions. Telvin Smith spent most of the day in the Pittsburgh backfield; he had two quarterback hurries, eight tackles and two tackles for loss. Lamarcus Joyner picked up two sacks in the second half blitzing off the edge.
"This is an exciting defense," Smith said. "He's probably one of the top two fastest guys on the team, so that's great. When you've got a guy like that coming off the edge it's hard for an Olineman or a running back to pick him up.
FSU continued to pile on in the second half, with two more field goals in the third quarter. The cherry on top came in the fourth quarter when Winston found Nick O'Leary in the end zone for the third time.
O'Leary's three touchdowns were the most by an FSU receiver since 2006 and the first multi-touchdown game from an FSU tight end since Melvin Pearsall in 1994.
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