Oct. 3, 2011
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Two weeks after missing his weekly press conference because of a doctor’s appointment, Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel spoke to the media Monday for the first time since a second-half injury against Oklahoma sidelined him for the game at Clemson.
Manuel’s return to the podium likely means a return to the starting lineup against Wake Forest this weekend.
When asked if he is expecting to play in Winson-Salem, NC, Manuel responded with a confident, “Yes, sir.”
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Manuel injured his non-throwing arm against the Sooners and was replaced under center by backup Clint Trickett in the loss to the Tigers before FSU’s bye this past weekend. The extra time to heal has Manuel in position to go through a full week of game preparations.
“I’m feeling good,” Manuel said. “I’m feeling a whole lot better than I was two weeks ago at this time. My range of motion and my strength and all that stuff is back so I am feeling good. I am excited to get back out there and practice. I missed it. When you get away from the grind and just being out there with your teammates, you kind of just start feeling guilty and you feel like you might be letting your team down and things like that. I am definitely excited to be back out there today.”
Head coach Jimbo Fisher said that Manuel will return to practice today after getting treatment last week.
While it’s not “official” that Manuel is the starter this weekend, Fisher sounded optimistic when he addressed the media. Now, it all depends on how Manuel — and that shoulder — respond at practice this week.
“Hopefully he will be ready to roll,” Fisher said.
RUN GAME, WHERE ARE YOU?
Through four games, the Florida State offense is having no trouble throwing the football. FSU currently ranks 14th in the nation in passing offense at 328 yards per game.
The running game, though, is a different story. The Seminoles are 115th nationally in rushing offense at just 79.5 yards per game.
The team’s inability to move the chains on the ground is quite the conundrum. FSU has a stable of talented tailbacks and three seniors on the offensive line with a great deal of experience.
So, what is the issue?
“Just missed some blocks and missed some cuts,” Fisher said. “That’s enough to do it. Same thing I tell you every week. It hasn’t changed; it’s been the same. You block three, you make four [blocks], you don’t make one. You’ve got to make all five of them. We are just out of rhythm, out of sync. We’ve got to stay committed to it and got to keep doing it.”
FSU fans have been wondering if there would be some personnel changes on the offensive line to give a spark to that facet of the game.
The Seminoles have good depth on the line so it’s an idea that makes sense. But that depth is very young and in turn very inexperienced and Fisher said Monday that the starters at offensive line will remain the same — for now.
“Offensive line is one of those places that it’s hard to make an impact as a young guy,” Fisher said about players such as Josue Matias, Austin Barron, Tre Jackson, Bobby Hart and Garrett Faircloth among others. “They are doing a really good job now.”
MOVING ON FROM THE LOSSES
The bye week not only helped FSU players heal their myriad of bumps and bruises, but it also helped the team move past back-to-back losses.
The Seminoles will travel to play at Wake Forest as a team that has not won a ballgame in nearly a month.
Manuel said Monday that the losing streak is something they are ready to move on from and build off. He said that the team is ready to push back above .500 and stay there with a game-by-game approach.
“We’ve got a lot of football left to play,” Manuel said. “We told ourselves we are just going to take care of Wake Forest, then take care of Duke, then take care of Maryland and so on.”
FSU vs. DUKE GAME-TIME ANNOUNCED
The ACC announced Monday afternoon that FSU’s game at Duke on Oct. 15 will start at 3 p.m.