CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — Honestly, my first thought was that it seemed pointless for Florida State to even run another play, what with the ball sitting near midfield, the clock winding down, the game tied at 17 and the Seminoles having just handed off to a running back on a play that seemed expressly designed to kill the remaining seconds until halftime. My second thought was Jameis Winston was going to get himself maimed, running around like that for no apparent reason with no discernible reward in sight, and my third thought was he might have made the most indelible highlight-reel throw by a redshirt freshman quarterback since the last indelible highlight-reel throw by a redshirt-freshman quarterback.
I don’t know, after watching their ragged 48-34 win over Boston College yesterday, if the Noles are good enough to win their own division of their own conference, let alone play for a national championship. And I doubt Winston will win the Heisman Trophy without that convergence of events, without Florida State winning the ACC and going undefeated, but sometimes there are plays that birth movements that birth legends — if anyone should know, it’s Boston College — and it’s not utterly outside of the spectrum of possibility to believe this is one of those plays. Whatever the hell it winds up being, I guess we should probably enjoy it for what it was, because it was patently absurd, probably more than a little lucky and an indication of how composed Jameis Winston really is that his teammates say, four games into his college career, he does things like this in practice all the time.
“We were on the sideline,” said linebacker Telvin Smith. “And we saw Jameis going down, and said, ‘Ah.’ And then we saw the ball going out, and said, ‘Oh.’ And then we saw the catch and said, ‘Aah.’”
The best part is not when Winston, feeling the encroaching presence of four Boston College defensive lineman, drifts away from one tackler. The best part is not when he shakes himself free from the second tackler and it is not even the hit Winston takes, or the throw he makes 60 yards downfield while knowing he is about to take that hit directly on the chin. No, the best part of these 12 or 15 seconds or so is when Jameis Winston somehow finds both the time and the temerity to point at his receiver, a little gesture with his left arm at receiver Kenny Shaw, streaking downfield. As if he saw him all along. As if he could somehow still direct this ad-libbed windblown tightrope walk of a sequence — Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher insisted it was a “conceived play,” which it was, though it ended up as nothing of the sort — toward a satisfying conclusion. As if a receiver on the last gasp of a half would do anything except streak toward paydirt and pray his quarterback might see him before he got pancaked.
“We all used our scramble rules,” said wide receiver Rashad Greene. “He gave Kenny a chance. That’s all we ask for, give him an opportunity.”
So Jameis Winston pointed, and by pointing he acknowledged the opportunity. And just the fact that he had the presence of mind to point at that juncture makes me think that, despite his modesty (“I gotta get so much better,” was the first thing he said after the game), he believes he is good enough to make seemingly impossible things happen for Florida State. Even if the rest of us still have reason to be skeptical.