Florida State on pace to best previous national championship teams
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida State receiver Kenny Shaw can talk about the Florida State offense all day. The Seminoles' leader in yards receiving remembers the days when the defense got all the attention.
Florida State's offense is on pace to surpass the numbers put up by the Seminoles' 1993 and 1999 national championship teams. They're dominating behind the play of redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston, who has put up better numbers in his first five starts than the last three Heisman Trophy winners mustered in the first five starts of their careers. And where Winston goes, so do the sixth-ranked Seminoles.
Florida State tied an FBS record for the largest point differential for a top-25 matchup with a 63-0 win against Maryland last Saturday. It was the largest since UCLA beat No. 11 Texas 66-3 in 1997.
"I feel like we showed the world something," Shaw said.
Winston has garnered some Heisman attention and the program already has two of the trophies on display inside the Moore Athletic Center. Charlie Ward won the award during the 1993 championship campaign. Chris Weinke won it the year after the Seminoles were crowned a second time. Ward threw for 3,032 yards, 27 touchdowns and four interceptions in 1993. Weinke reached 3,103 yards passing, 25 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 1999.
Winston is on pace for 3,458 yards passing, 41 touchdowns and five interceptions through 12 regular-season games.
"When you keep giving our offense the ball, something's going to happen," Winston humbly said.
Winston also compares favorably to recent Heisman winners.
Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M were 4-1 through his first five starts in 2012 — when he became the first freshman to win the Heisman. He completed 69.3 percent of his passes for 257.0 yards per game with 11 touchdowns, two interceptions and a 162.8 quarterback rating. Winston averages 288.2 yards passing with a 73.2 completion percentage and has 17 touchdowns and two interceptions with a 213.9 quarterback rating.
Robert Griffin III was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft after winning the Heisman Trophy. He started as a freshman at Baylor in 2008 and went 3-2 in his first five games and averaged 196.8 yards passing with a 62.4 completion percentages, nine touchdowns, zero interceptions and a 165.5 quarterback rating.
Cam Newton was a redshirt junior when he won the Heisman in 2010, but it was his first year as full-time starter of an FBS program. Auburn went 5-0 en route to the national title. Newton averaged 185.6 yards passing with a 65.5 completion percentage and threw 12 touchdowns and four interceptions with a 191.4 quarterback rating in those first five games.
Manziel, Griffin and Newton all had more yards rushing than Winston, but he has been responsible for more touchdowns than all three during that span.
With each highlight reel effort, the ceiling rises for Winston and Florida State — which is off this week and plays No. 3 Clemson Oct. 19.
Against Boston College, Winston broke a tackle in the backfield and threw a 55-yard touchdown to Shaw.
"Just because it's Jameis, you know it's going to happen," Shaw said. "That's nothing new for us. You see it all and it amazes you as the play goes. But, then again, you've got to get open to make a play.
"You can hear it [from the crowd], particularly the Boston College play. That's how I knew he wasn't tackled."
Maryland nose tackle Darius Kilgo said, "Getting a hand on him and being able to slow him down is not good enough."
Florida State's offensive numbers are just as gaudy.
The Seminoles have averaged 53.6 points per game, but those should lower with increased competition. Maryland, however, was part of that increased completion. Florida State has averaged 549 yards per game and scored touchdowns on eight consecutive possessions against the Terrapins. It scored on six consecutive possessions against the Eagles with a field goal mixed in with five touchdowns.
The 1993 team averaged 548 yards per game.
The Seminoles have scored on the last possession before halftime and the first possession of the third quarter in every game. Only one of those scores was a field goal — in the season opener against Pittsburgh.
"Proud of where we are so far and what we've done," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. "We're putting ourselves in position to play some good ball."