High praise for Jameis Winston

As Florida head coach Will Muschamp prepares his team for the rivalry game with Florida State, he understands what the driving force is on a team that hasn’t lost a game since the last time Muschamp led his Gators to Tallahassee, two years ago. The Gators have to find a way to make the Florida State quarterback less of a factor than he normally is.

The Gators missed the field on Tuesday because of bad weather and had to walk-through their assignments at the Florida gym. Bad weather has forced them to miss a few practices this year and this isn’t the week they need that to happen.

“We had a good day Monday, couldn’t get out yesterday,” Muschamp said in his weekly SEC teleconference call. “But, we had a good walk through in the Florida Gym. Hopefully we will be able to get out there today.”

Florida State has won 27 straight games since last losing at home to Florida in 2012. That success certainly is shared by all of the people in the program, but Muschamp singled out starting quarterback Jameis Winston as the key ingredient to get to that level of which they have been playing for so long.

“It is a credit to Jimbo (Fisher) and his staff, their players, and their program,” Muschamp said of the winning streak. “Knowing how to understand how to win is a talent. This team knows how to win. It starts with the quarterback position and affects the entire team. The teams in the (NFL) playoffs every year are the teams with a Peyton or New England. Those are the teams that win consistently.

There are a good many people that believe the Gators could upset the Seminoles this year. A double digit underdog, Florida State isn’t playing quite as well as a year ago, but Muschamp believes it may have more to do with teams targeting such a high profile program each and every week. Teams have often outplayed the Seminoles early in games.

“I think being the defending national champion and in the first half everybody is giving their best shot and maybe they have a different wrinkle or two,” Muschamp said. “I see good execution in the first half, I see people giving their best shot and at the end of the day and they have been able to win. That is really all that matters.”

Of Winston, Muschamp knows the young man has all the intangibles in the world when he steps on the football field.

“He’s undefeated as a starting quarterback,” Muschamp said. “You see the leadership ability and how he affects the people around him and how they play. The talent is obvious as far as arm talent… he can make all the throws. He has a bad ankle and is battling. He’s never down in the pocket. He reminds me a lot of Ben Roethlisberger in the pocket as far as a big guy that is very difficult to get down. You have to tackle him high because he has 280-300 pounders all over him and he is throwing the ball 40-50 yards down the field. He takes the ball to the right spot. He’s a Heisman Trophy winner for a reason.”

Indeed the Florida Gators have their hands full this weekend in Tallahassee. It is the farewell game for Will Muschamp and one that he would like to duplicate that of Ron Zook 10 years earlier, when the underdog Gators went in to Tallahassee and beat a favored Seminole team in Zook’s last game as a coach after having been previously let go. To do that, they are going to have to corral Winston.


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