Nov. 16, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher is filled with catch-phrases he dispenses freely in an effort to connect with his players. Needless to say, an abundance of those are geared to the quarterbacks he directs.
During Monday’s press conference, Fisher was explaining that being the back-up quarterback is the most difficult position on the team. At least one of Fisher’s points found a home with redshirt freshman EJ Manuel, who earned ACC Rookie of the Week honors after passing for 220 yards and rushing for 45 more in the Seminoles’ 41-28 win at Wake Forest.
“Don’t wait to play. Prepare to play,” Fisher said. “Don’t wait your turn.”
By all indications – 15 of 20 passing with one touchdown and only one interception against the Demon Deacons – Manuel did just that in his first foray following Christian Ponder’s season-ending shoulder injury.
“I made a few mistakes; there were some things where I tried to do a little too much,” Manuel said, when asked to evaluate his first start after watching film. “It’s been a long time since I played a football game. It was fun. … I was surprised how fun it was. It was a lot more fun than high school with all these weapons out here.”
FSU coach Bobby Bowden was certainly pleased with the performance.
“He looked good and he should have a lot more confidence,” Bowden said of Manuel, following Monday night’s practice. “He’s doing what he’s supposed to do.”
The Seminoles (5-5, 3-4 ACC) will ask Manuel to duplicate that initial effort in Saturday’s home finale against Maryland (2-8, 1-5). By all accounts, the Terrapins’ defense provides a far greater challenge than their record may indicate.
“They blitz like crazy, from out of all places,” Fisher said. “Structurally, they are as tough to preapre for as anyone.”
Manuel, who praised his teammates for their supporting efforts at Wake Forest, expects a test from a Maryland team whose lone win came against ACC Atlantic leader Clemson.
“I’m sure they’re going to do different things; changes things up and bring different blitzes from different areas,” he said. “We prepare so well – coach Fisher has things planned out so well for us during the week – I think we’ll be fine.”
HUDSON HAS KNEE SPRAIN
Junior offensive guard Rodney Hudson, who has made 31 consecutive starts, suffered a right knee sprain against Wake Forest and his status for Saturday’s game against Maryland remains uncertain.
“Wednesday (the trainers) will start loosening him up and doing some things with him, and we’ll play it by ear and see exactly what happens,” said offensive line coach Rick Trickett.
Redshirt junior Brandon Davis filled in for Hudson for 17 snaps and earned a winning grade in his most significant action to date.
“He did a pretty good job,” Trickett said of Davis, the lone holdover among offensive linemen since Trickett arrived three years ago. “Brandon’s played some and he’s got experience. … We might just put a 62 jersey (Hudson’s number) on Brandon and they’ll never know the difference.”
Saturday’s kickoff against Maryland is officially 12:10 p.m. for the Raycom telecast, but there will be plenty of pregame activities inside the stadium beginning at approximately 11:45 a.m. FSU’s senior class will be honored prior to their final home game, followed by a special recognition for retiring defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews. … There are young teams and then there’s the offense Fisher put on the field against Wake Forest. Only three upperclassmen – senior receiver Rod Owens and junior linemen Ryan McMahon and Hudson – saw action against the Demon Deacons. … FSU freshman kicker Dustin Hopkins ranks fourth nationally with 21 touchbacks. Hopkins deserves an asterisk next to his name, because the three kickers in front of him all play at altitude. … The regular season finale at Florida will kick off at 3:30 p.m. and be televised by CBS.