How do you stop Jameis Winston?
ACC coaches haven’t quite figured that out yet. N.C. State gets its chance Saturday.
North Carolina does not play the Seminoles this season, but coach Larry Fedora said he has watched several games and has seen what Winston can do. When asked if he had any advice for his rival in Raleigh, Fedora laughed and said, “Good luck.”
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is just days removed for Winston’s breakout performance. Winston carved the Tigers for 444 passing yards and three touchdowns, vaulting himself firmly into the Heisman Trophy race. What advice would he give Doeren?
“Hey, I've got my own problems. I've got enough problems right now,” Swinney said with a laugh. “But you're going to have to play a complete football game. You don't have a lot of room for error if you're going to beat Florida State. That's the biggest thing.
“They really don't have any weaknesses on that football team. They're good in the trenches, they're good at all the skill position, good at backer, running backs are very deep, tight end is an excellent player, they're good in special teams.”
As jaw-dropping as Winston’s passing numbers are -- 1,885 yards, 20 touchdowns against just three interceptions -- his 71.3 percent completion percentage stands out.
Pitt coach Paul Chryst faced Winston in his first college start. All Winston did was complete 25 of 27 passes for 356 yards and four touchdowns in a primetime game. Chryst was asked the same question of Fedora and Swinney.
“Our game plan wasn’t good enough,” he said. “Did you see our game? Yeah, no, he’s pretty good.”
After two games, Winston had more touchdown passes (6) than incompletions (5).
Doeren understands the challenge ahead. He spoke about how Winston’s poise in the pocket has led FSU to several victories and said his team will put an emphasis on trying to get him on the ground.
“Obviously in order to get a quarterback out of rhythm, there’s a couple of things that have to happen,” Doeren said. “There’s pressure that has to be applied, whether it’s mental pressure through different looks you can give or physical pressure by hitting him and hopefully sacking him, forcing errant throws.
“He’s operating at over 70 percent completion rate. The biggest thing you see is their receivers do such a good job after the catch of making plays on a 6-yard curl route, turning it into an 80-yard touchdown. Those are the things that make his numbers go off the charts.”
Doeren said the key is keeping it close, as difficult as that has been.
“I think they’re outscoring their opponents like 230 to 20 in the second and third quarters combined,” Doeren said. “You’ve got to do a really good job of being in it early and then staying in it. They do a nice job of making explosive plays after they see how you’re playing them.
“Watching those games doesn’t change the fact that they’ve done it to about every team they’ve played.”
On the same note, Duke coach David Cutcliffe offered Doeren the best advice.
“Try to keep the football,” Cutcliffe said with a laugh. “He already knows that, so he doesn’t need to hear it from me.”
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