He improvised plays that are sure to run on a loop on ESPN for the next 24 hours, flashed footwork that would make Cristiano Ronaldo blush and displayed the vision of a clairvoyant.
There was indeed a Heisman Trophy winner playing at Carter-Finley Stadium on Saturday, but for the first half of the N.C. State-Florida State game it was hard to figure out which team he played for.
On a day when all the pregame hype swirled around the return of FSU’s Heisman-winner Jameis Winston from a one-game suspension, the spotlight quickly shifted to the Wolfpack’s quarterback from the Sunshine State, Jacoby Brissett.
Brissett scorched the No. 1 Seminoles (4-0, 1-0 ACC) in the first quarter, helping the Wolfpack (4-1, 0-1 ACC) take a 24-7 lead after the first 15 minutes before succumbing to the defending national champions 56-41.
“He’s a lot like the guy we got,” Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. “He’s big, strong, strong armed, can throw it down the field, competitive, tough and can make plays. He’s very similar, and I have a lot of respect for him.”
Brissett, a 6-4, 231-pound Florida transfer, completed 32 of 48 passes for a career-high 359 yards, and his three touchdown passes matched his personal best.
“I thought he played his heart out,” N.C. State coach Dave Doren said. “He made some tremendous football plays out there.”
Winston aired it out for 365 yards and four TDs and was picked off twice.
Brissett stole the show early, as he shifted away from pressure to buy enough time to find Bo Hines over the middle for a 54-yard touchdown pass on the opening possession.
Brissett’s second TD pass was pure magic. Taking a shotgun snap at the FSU 8-yard line, the redshirt junior came under fire quickly but managed to spin out of the grasp of blitzing safety Jalen Ramsey. Brissett than rolled to his right and shook off linebacker DeMarcus Walker, who was clinging to his sleeve, and managed to stay inbounds as he unleashed a pass to Jonathan Alston in the back of the end zone.
“Last year against our defense he did a lot of stuff like that,” Doren said of Brissett, who was the 2013 Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year. “The only guy I’ve ever seen do that is (Johnny) Manziel last year. He did that stuff all the time. That’s what it reminded me of, a play like his, where he gets in and out of stuff. I don’t know how he got out of that one. Tremendous football play.”
Fisher didn’t know how to describe it.
“I don’t know what to call that thing,” said Fisher, who recruited Brissett when he was starring at Dwyer High in West Palm Beach. “That guy’s just an unbelievably strong athlete. He made plays like that in high school. I saw him. He did. He really made plays like that in high school.”
It wasn’t all sunshine for Brissett. He was sacked four times, fumbled twice and appeared to hurt his leg late in the fourth quarter, but the performance was enough inspire dreams of a bright future.