5 FSU Players Who Will Make or Break Jameis Winston's 2nd Heisman Quest
Winning the Heisman Trophy two years in a row is, to put it lightly, not one of the easier things to do in football.
Which, should be noted, is a pretty hard sport to begin with.
So much has to go right with the added bonus of having a target on your back. That's what Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is facing in 2014 as he tries to become only the second player in history to win back-to-back Heismans.
Can he do it? He's going to need help. Here are five players who can make, or break, those hopes.
Offensive Tackle Cameron Erving
How about some instant love for the big men up front?
Florida State offensive tackle Cameron Erving could have left this year for the NFL draft and potentially have been selected in the first round.
Instead, he opted to come back for another season and will undoubtedly be one of the anchors for the Seminoles offensive line. Florida State returns four starters along that line, the only departure being center Bryan Stork. That means the Noles will have one of the most experienced offensive lines coming back.
If Winston is going to win another Heisman and throw for another 4,000 yards, he's going to need protection up front. In pass protection, Erving's job at left tackle will be paramount.
Wide Receiver Rashad Greene
With receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Kenny Shaw gone to the NFL, senior Rashad Greene becomes even more important to Winston.
Greene was the team's leading receiver last year with 76 receptions for 1,128 yards.
He'll be an even bigger security blanket for the Seminoles this season, along with tight end Nick O'Leary. Florida State will be breaking in some newer faces at receiver this year, including blue-chipper Ermon Lane. Not only will Greene be an important player for Winston, he'll be instrumental in helping the less-experienced players get up to speed.
In many ways, Greene will have to be one of the leaders of the offense in 2014.
Running Back Karlos Williams
Like Greene at wide receiver, running back Karlos Williams was part of a three-headed monster last season. Williams split a lot of carries with leading rusher Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr.
Now that Freeman and Wilder are gone, though, Williams moves into a feature back role. And, like Greene, Williams will also serve as a mentor for younger backs breaking into the rotation.
He also has the ability to take a lot of pressure off of Winston in the running game. That only makes life easier for the Heisman winner. The question, according to B/R's Adam Kramer and Barrett Sallee in the video above, is whether Williams becomes his own Heisman candidate in 2014.
If that came to fruition, Williams could theoretically take votes away from Winston.
Center Austin Barron
As mentioned earlier, four of Florida State's offensive linemen return from a year ago. The one new face should be center Austin Barron.
Barron has had plenty of playing experience over his career, just not a lot of starting experience (five total). He's transitioned nicely to the top of the depth chart this spring, however, and will be snapping the ball to Winston every play this year.
The relationship between a center and the quarterback is an important one. They, more than any other pair, need to be on the same page about the play and the blocking scheme. The center is oftentimes the smartest guy on the field.
If Florida State's offense is going to finish the season as one of the best in total offense and scoring offense again, it starts with the center-quarterback exchange.
Defensive End Mario Edwards Jr.
There's a path to follow, but defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. can be an important piece to Winston winning another Heisman.
Florida State beat opponents last year by an average of just under 40 points per game. The Seminoles had the second-best scoring offense (51.6 points per game), but it was anchored by the best scoring defense in the country (12.1 points per game).
If your defense can stop everything and anything thrown at them, it makes the offense's job a lot easier. The best way to stop an opposing offense is to win the first-down battle. That's where Edwards (along with the rest of Florida State's defensive line) comes in.
Edwards finished with 9.5 tackles for loss last season and 3.5 sacks, good for second and third on the team, respectively. If he can boost those numbers this season, Florida State should still be a force up front.
Play-calling on offense gets a lot easier and more creative when there's confidence the defense won't yield. That's how Winston will put up Heisman-like numbers again in 2014.
Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All stats courtesy of cfbstats.com.
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