GREENSBORO, N.C. — Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston and cornerback P.J. Williams spoke with reporters on Day 1 of the ACC Kickoff. Here are a few nuggets we learned about the Seminoles today.
•Williams said adamantly that Florida State hasn’t endured any overblown egos or complacency problems following the Seminoles’ undefeated, championship-winning season. He went on to say that now that the Seminoles have been at the top, they’re working even harder than last year to make sure they can stay at that pinnacle. “We’re all looking to do it again,” he said, “and now we know what it takes.” Winston later added to this via response to a similar question. He said he doesn’t want his Heisman to carry any momentum into this year because he wants everybody to begin this year with a “clean slate.”
•Williams answered questions for about three minutes before Winston entered the room, stealing everyone’s attention and setting off a tsunami of camera flashes. Winston, per usual, took all the attention in unbreakable stride. As he sat down, he started speaking without even hearing a question first.
“Before I say anything,” he began, “how does it feel to have an ACC team come in here with a national championship? Can y’all give us a round of applause? We took it away from the SEC, man, it’s a blessing.”
•Winston said he took pride in winning the national title and ending the run of Alabama and Auburn. He called those two his personal rivals.
•Winston is confident that his receiving corps will produce at a high level despite losing productive players such as Kelvin Benjamin and Kenny Shaw. He spoke especially highly of the Seminoles’ dynamic group of freshmen. “Travis Rudolph is a new addition, and he’s going to be fantastic,” Winston said. “Ermon Lane is having a tremendous, tremendous summer.” Winston then said despite how good he feels about the receivers, returning four of his five starting offensive linemen is even more important.
•Williams said there “isn’t much difference at all” between new defensive coordinator Charles Kelly and Jeremy Pruitt, who left this offseason to join Georgia’s staff. Williams said Kelly did not implement a new scheme when he took over this spring.
•Both Williams and Winston expressed their pleasure with the new College Football Playoff. Williams said he likes the idea of twice as many teams getting a chance to play for a championship, while Winston said he supports anything that allows them to play more football.
•Winston said he knows he has to be more careful off the field now that he’s a leader and always in the spotlight. With his team, coaches and family depending on him, he said, he knows he has to hold himself to a higher standard. He also noted that it wasn’t difficult to acquire that mindset. “You learn from your mistakes in this world, and I’ve learned from my mistakes. I’ve fixed it, and I’ve moved on,” he said.
•Some thought Winston might shy away from all the attention this season after everything he’s been through in the past year. He made it pretty clear that’s not the case. “I don’t have a problem with the spotlight,” he said. “I want to be in that situation.”
•Winston said he’s been working on using his hips more effectively, but otherwise, he’s placed an emphasis on the mental part of the quarterback position. He’s spent countless hours watching film with coach Jimbo Fisher, where the two will go through progressions together. Winston has been trying to focus more on watching opposing defenses, too.
•Williams said the Seminoles have learned by reading quotes from Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron, who said following last season that his team was complacent after experiencing so much success.
•Redshirt junior Lamarcus Brutus is overlooked behind the rest of Florida State’s star-studded secondary, but Williams said he’s set for a breakout season.
•When asked about the season-opener against Oklahoma State, which will be played at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Winston said one of his favorite things about his Florida State career has been playing in NFL Stadiums. “We’re gonna be in Jerry World!” he exclaimed. He added that he and the rest of his teammates play best on the biggest stage and in the biggest stadiums.