Jameis Winston loved playing “Monday Night Football” in his debut for Florida State.
Chances are the redshirt freshman quarterback won’t mind playing on the traditional Saturday against a suspect Nevada defense at home this week.
Winston will look to equal his outstanding debut for No. 10 Florida State (1-0), in which he went 25 of 27 for 356 yards and four touchdowns in a 41-13 win over Pittsburgh at Heinz Field on Sept. 2.
“It’s Monday Night Football,” Winston said. “We come in and play Monday Night Football in a pro stadium? I was so pumped for that.”
Winston’s 252.2 passer rating against Pittsburgh gives him the best mark in the FBS, and it’s the third-best mark of an FBS quarterback playing in his first game - with at least 20 attempts - since 1996.
“I wasn’t surprised,” cornerback Lamarcus Joyner said. “I told him pregame you go against the best every day … and the way you rip us apart sometimes in scrimmages, we know you can do it against anyone in the nation.”
Winston began his college career with 11 straight completions before Kenny Shaw couldn’t keep his feet inbounds on pass number 12.
“I feel comfortable with the way he’s going to play,” coach Jimbo Fisher said. “Guys, when they don’t play well is when they don’t prepare well. He has shown no signs of that. He’s a tremendous competitor in practice and he’s a perfectionist.”
He should have a good chance to have plenty of success in the Seminoles’ home opener against Nevada, which was less than airtight in a 58-20 season-opening loss to UCLA on Aug. 31. The Bruins’ Brett Hundley and Jerry Neuheisel combined to go 24 of 35 for 302 yards and two touchdowns.
Nevada looked a little better last week, recording its first two interceptions of the season in a 36-7 victory over UC Davis.
The hardest part for Florida State might be handling the bye, which has led to trouble in the past. The Seminoles’ last four games coming off a bye week were decided by a single score, including a six-point win last year over Virginia Tech as well as losses to Wake Forest and North Carolina State.
“It felt good to get back into the routine,” Joyner said. “We had a long camp, a long summer, and then to have a great victory on Monday and then to have to wait another week, all we want to do is play football so it’s great that we get to prepare again for game day.”
Nevada (1-1) hasn’t had any sort of break, with a second tough challenge in three weeks for first-year coach Brian Polian.
In its first-ever trip to Florida, Nevada will join Buffalo as the only teams to take on two Top 25 foes on the road within this season’s first three weeks.
“They play a lot of big-time games,” Fisher said of the Wolf Pack. “They will not be intimidated coming in here.”
Cody Fajardo put up a Winston-like performance statistically for Nevada last week, going 18 of 21 for 239 yards and two touchdowns, though it came against UC Davis.
He is averaging 4.7 yards per carry, and totaled 106 against the Bruins. Fajardo was sixth in the nation among quarterbacks with 1,121 rushing yards last year.
“Mobile quarterbacks, they’re going to get theirs,” Joyner said. “What we have to do is not let him make the big throws downfield. He’s going to get runs. He’s going to run for first downs. The guy’s a good mobile quarterback.”
Fajardo has a couple of valuable weapons to which he can throw.
Brandon Wimberly has a reception in each of his 42 games, the longest active streak in the nation. The first-team All-Mountain West receiver had seven receptions for 55 yards last week.
Richy Turner had six catches apiece against UCLA and UC Davis, getting 136 receiving yards and a score against the Aggies.