Winston sharp in regular-season opener

PELHAM, ALA. -- Heralded Hueytown (Ala.) quarterback Jameis Winston, by his own admission, was far from perfect in his team's preseason win over defending Class 4A champion Thomasville one week ago.
He completed less than 50 percent of his passes.
He also threw three picks.
So even though Winston amassed more than 250 total yards, he didn't have a Winston-like night.
Seven days later, the standout signal caller did.
In a 34-6 victory at Pelham in Hueytown's regular-season opener, the 6-feet-4, 200-pounder was for the most part very sharp. He finished 17 of 26 for 240 yards and one touchdown passing, while rushing for 55 more yards on 12 carries. Winston also converted a 2-point conversion run.
"I think I did pretty good," Winston told "The best thing was, no turnovers."
Winston, who recently excelled at the Elite 11 quarterback camp in California, was particularly strong early. On Hueytown's opening drive, he went 4 of 5 for 60 yards and had two rushes for 14 yards to lead his team into the endzone. The drive ended when Winston looked off one receiver, then found Hunter Scott over the middle for a 27-yard touchdown connection.
On that drive, and the ones that followed, Winston rotated between taking snaps under center and playing in the shotgun. He was equally effective at both.
Pelham, clearly intent on not letting the strong-armed Winston beat it deep, regularly dropped several players into deep coverage. It didn't matter. Using a short-pass attack, Winston chewed up the defense with quick throws to his receivers.
"I just took what they gave us," Winston said.
Many of Hueytown's offensive plays required Winston, a Florida State commit, to simply catch the ball and throw it. But he also showed the ability to make progressions. More often than not, he hit his target in stride.
Asked what he did better from Week 1 to Week 2, Winston replied, "Decision making … I was making good decisions - not making bad mistakes. [Last week] really wasn't coverage picks. It was me out there trying to make a play."
Winston's stats could have been even better. All told, his receivers dropped six passes that hit them squarely in the hands, including one on arguably Winston's best play of the night. That drop came on a perfectly thrown pass down the left-center of the field after Winston located a wide open receiver who had gotten separation from his defender.
On the flip side, two of Winston's passes - really the only two poorly thrown balls by him all night - hit the hands of a defender and could have been intercepted. Unlike the drops by his receivers, however, these would have been difficult catches.
As he did the previous week, Winston ran the ball well. Ten of his 12 rushing attempts resulted in positive yardage. On several occasions, he eluded defenders who had gotten past Hueytown offensive linemen to avert lost yardage. The physical Winston proved to be difficult to tackle, too. Often times, it took multiple defenders to bring him to the ground.
"He's more powerful than people think," said former NFL defensive lineman Otis Leverette, who trains Winston. "He's a strong, determined kid."
Keith Niebuhr can be reached at You can follow him on Twitter @KeithRIVALS.