Manuel earns solid marks, while defense also steps up production.
By Florida State Sports Information
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In virtually every aspect – except the lack of tackling – Thursday’s Florida State football scrimmage was as close to a game situation scenario as possible.
The Seminoles punted when three downs failed to yield a first down, kicked off after scores and even mixed in a few field goal attempts when warranted, mixed with a heavy dose of situational work. In short, it was just what the ‘Noles needed with the Sept. 1 season-opener against Murray State just nine days away.
“We got a lot of situations done; we got a lot of young guys looked at,” FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher said, saving the best news for last. “We did not have one injury. That was the good thing. We planned for that and made sure that didn’t happen.”
While a handful of ‘Noles were held out of action, the fact that no players were tackled to the ground was an added precautionary measure.
Fisher downplayed the potential ill-effects of not tackling and limiting the work of some proven players, like tailback Chris Thompson (tender hamstring) and wide receiver Rodney Smith (sore hip). He knows what those players are capable of come game day.
As for the lack of tackling, the ‘Noles have demonstrated throughout camp that they are up to the physical challenges of the season.
“Our practices have been tremendously physical,” Fisher said. “It’s been an extremely physical fall, a lot of running and hit-you-in-the-mouth. … I want to get to the game healthy.”
Senior quarterback EJ Manuel, who sat out the first scrimmage with a sore right ankle, didn’t show any signs that the layoff had slowed his preseason progress. Fisher, in fact, gave FSU’s starter solid marks for his scrimmage performance.
“EJ had one drive where I wish he could have hit a nice little corner route in the end zone that he was on the move with,” Fisher said. “He was very close. He threw a couple touchdowns and threw the ball very accurate. He made good decisions. I liked his management.”
Manuel also came away pleased with his performance – and the performance of those around him.
“I felt great,” Manuel said. “I had five drives at the beginning of the scrimmage. We scored on four of the five drives. There was one where we got a first down but then we went three-and-out and had to punt. Other than that, I thought I did well. My teammates did well. My O-line did great. They did a really good job. I felt comfortable in the pocket. I was able to sit back there and deliver the ball.”
That’s especially encouraging and also another sign of the progress the offensive line has made since the Seminoles’ Champs Sports Bowl win over Notre Dame.
Fisher also praised back-up quarterback Clint Trickett for his continued solid play throughout camp.
“I thought Clint had an exceptional day,” Fisher said. “He threw the ball well, took command and did a really nice job.”
Florida State’s touted defense also turned in its share of big plays, forcing several turnovers in what was essentially its final dress rehearsal before the opener.
“The entire scrimmage the D-line brought pressure,” said junior safety Lamarcus Joyner. “The younger guys in the secondary and the older guys were making plays. We did get a few turnovers. Like I said, everybody was doing their jobs. It was a great feeling for everyone.”