Oregon D prepares for Winston: 'He's a tremendous quarterback'
EUGENE, Ore. - When the Rose Bowl kicks off on New Year's Day, the spotlight will be on the quarterbacks.
This will be just the third time in college football history that two Heisman winners have faced each other in a bowl game.
Jameis Winston won the 2013 Heisman - and the national title.
Marcus Mariota won the honor this year.
But it won't fall to Mariota to stop Winston.
"Jameis doesn't play defense, and I don't play defense, so we won't actually be playing against each other," Mariota said.
But Winston will be playing against the Oregon defense. a group prepared to face it's toughest challenge of the season.
"He's great. He won the Heisman for a reason," said Troy Hill, Oregon defensive back. "Obviously he's a little different than other quarterbacks. We played a lot of great quarterbacks in the Pac-12, but he has a little different game. He got the ability to scramble. You see he hasn't lost a game, so that separates him right there."
Some of the qualities that led Mariota to the Heisman are the same ones that got Winston there in 2013. He's a dual threat quarterback who can make something out of nothing.
"He's a very dynamic guy who can make plays all over the place," said Oregon linebacker Tony Washington. "Never know what to expect from guys like that. He can run around and make things happen that you wouldn't expect. He won the Heisman before; it's not because he's an average player. The guy understands football, and he is great at it."
"He's a tremendous quarterback because he can put the ball through very tight windows," said Don Pellum, Oregon defensive coordinator. "He can stick it right there. He's got a cannon. He's got an eye for it."
But some of those windows have closed this season. Winston has thrown 17 interceptions, a sophomore slump of sorts for this once freshman phenom.
"We got to try to rattle him, get after him and defensively," lineman DeForest Buckner said. "We are coming up with some things to try to stop him."
His numbers may be down, but Winston is still a winner. The Florida State Seminoles are undefeated with Winston at quarterback.
"Got to know you're coming into a dog fight," Hill said. "If we get up, we can't let go. Really, they're going to fight the whole game and you can never expect them to be out of it because we've seen on film - they always in the game, they always find a way to somehow fight back."