ESPN‚Äôs David M. Hale and Mark Schlabach report Florida State QB Jameis Winston is part of an ongoing investigation into a sexual assault complaint filed with the Tallahassee Police Department in December 2012. Winston’s attorney, Tim Jansen, said police contacted him in February 2013, but no charges were filed and Winston never has been interviewed by police.
FSU has announced that Winston intends to lead the undefeated, second-ranked Seminoles into Saturday‚Äôs game against Syracuse. But if SU could catch any type of break against this sound offense, it‚Äôs how Winston, assuming he plays, handles the now-public allegations.
He‚Äôs been a mastermind on the field all season long. Winston is a big reason why FSU puts up an eye-popping 52 points per game, which ranks second in the nation. Twenty-six touchdown passes to just seven interceptions, with a completion percentage just short of 70, equates to top-tier talent. The FSU offense obviously works to Winston‚Äôs strengths, but even if Winston is distracted, FSU is still capable of total domination.
Just ask SU defensive lineman Jay Bromley:
‚ÄúWe‚Äôre doing the best we can. [They have] explosive wide receivers, a good running back, [and] a good offensive line. We are just trying to come up with the best schemes possible.‚Äù
The Seminoles feature a top three rushing attack in addition to the second-best receiving game in the ACC. Winston has a lot to do with both rankings, of course. His ability to control and manage the offense speaks to the run game‚Äôs success, and his ability to connect with standout receivers Rashad Greene and Kenny Shaw is spot-on. National title contenders generate the complete package.
The allegation from 2012 and initial police contact in early 2013 have clearly not rattled Winston this season. Being the quarterback of the No. 2 team in the country, a Heisman hopeful and the leader of a potential BCS championship team aren‚Äôt accolades that keep you up at night. A sexual assault case is a different story, however, and the potential for distraction, in light of the press catching wind of this, exists here.
Still, as of now Winston is playing. And when that‚Äôs the case, SU is the huge underdog. Bromley told The Fizz¬†Tuesday¬†the defense has been here before:
‚ÄúWe always walk into the stadium against Goliath so to speak. We aren‚Äôt scared of that. We‚Äôve faced good quarterbacks before like Teddy Bridgewater and Geno Smith.‚Äù
Senior Bromley may have forgotten, or simply didn‚Äôt want to mention, Clemson‚Äôs¬†Tajh Boyd, as he did exactly what Bridgewater and Smith couldn‚Äôt, which was dismantle SU‚Äôs defense. Scott Shafer and Chuck Bullough have the defense prepared to pressure Winston as much as possible. Bromley understands what Winston is capable of:
‚ÄúIf we let him sit back in the pocket he‚Äôll pick you apart. When we blitz we need to get to the quarterback. Don‚Äôt let him stay on his feet too much.‚Äù
The game plan is clearly in line and the Orange tests itself once more against one of the nation‚Äôs powerhouses. Let‚Äôs remember¬†Syracuse is just one win away from becoming bowl eligible¬†and the team‚Äôs mindset all season long has been game-by-game. Bromley put it best during the post-game press conference in Maryland. He witnessed¬†SU‚Äôs season collapse after the team started 5 ‚Äì 2 in the 2011. Perhaps with the defense‚Äôs added focus, and the distraction of Jameis Winston’s recent troubles, Syracuse could make things interesting at Doak Campbell Stadium¬†Saturday.
Posted by: Brendan Glasheen