’Noles roll; assault case continues
KAREEM COPELAND and KELLI KENNEDY
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida State did what coach Jimbo Fisher said the Seminoles would do: control the things they can control.
Jameis Winston and second-ranked Florida State rolled over Syracuse 59-3 on Saturday, getting a respite from the ongoing sexual assault investigation of the redshirt freshman quarterback.
But the probe remains a dark cloud over the program. State attorney Willie Meggs has said the investigation will continue for a few weeks and are setting up an interview with the alleged victim.
A female student first made the report to campus police on Dec. 7, 2012 and the case was turned over to the Tallahassee Police Department. Prosecutors were presented the case last week.
The outcome of the investigation could come after the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game on Dec. 7 -- exactly one year from the date of the original report. The uncertainty of Winston’s status could also affect the decision-making of Heisman Trophy voters with ballots due after that weekend.
Voters could also drop Florida State out of the top two in the polls and the BCS standings if Winston is eventually suspended.
None of that is within the Seminoles’ control, and Fisher says Winston and the team have not it become a distraction on the field.
The Seminoles (10-0, 8-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) certainly were not distracted against the Orange.
"It’s the same every week," Winston said. "I have a great team. We have so many veterans. We use the (same) plan every single week and we’ve got to show up every single week.
"That’s how it is. Seminole football."
Winston played just two quarters Saturday and missed on two of 21 pass attempts -- the second time he completed 90 percent of his passes this season. He threw for 277 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. He remains a Heisman front-runner as the Seminoles led 38-0 at halftime.
Florida State has now defeated opponents 59-3 in consecutive weeks and gone undefeated in ACC play for the first time since 2000.
"I thought we came out very focused and, again, started very fast and got a great opening drive," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said, "and were able to make a couple big plays early, get control of the game and we were able to execute.
"Very happy with our focus throughout the game."
Winston and the offense has dominated on the field -- there have been 10 offensive scoring drives that took less than two minutes in the last two games. But the Seminoles also have the No. 3 scoring defense in the league that allows just 11.1 points per game. They’ve given up 17-plus points just twice in 2013.
"I thought the quarterback was a defensive end until he turned his shoulders and I saw his jersey number. They look like an NFL team out there, personnel wise," Syracuse coach Scott Shafer said. "They have guys who don’t touch the field that are giants. That’s the sign of a good program and one (terrific) job by Jimbo Fisher and his staff."
Still, the outcome of the investigation could derail everything. Florida State has a conduct/discipline policy that states all student-athletes who are charged with a felony are suspended from game participation "until such time as the charge is resolved and all court, university and athletics department conditions for reinstatement have been met." A student-athlete charged with a misdemeanor is subject to the coach’s discipline and may not participate in game action until after any required jail time is served.
Prosecutors are setting up a time to interview the victim, who has moved out of Florida. Winton’s attorney, Timothy Jansen, said Saturday he’s given officials two affidavits from eye witnesses that will "completely exonerate my client." He’s repeatedly said his client did nothing wrong and he thought the investigation was over months ago.
Winston, Fisher and Florida State have declined to comment on all inquiries involving the investigation.
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