As Florida State gears up for their big time match up with Clemson this weekend, the most important player in all of Doak Campbell Stadium will undoubtedly be FSU’s redshirt senior quarterback, EJ Manuel. As I’ve followed Manuel’s career from the time he first jumped on the radar as a superstar high school gunslinger out of Virginia Beach, I’ve discovered that a lot of people still don’t know who he is as a quarterback. It’s easy to fall in love with all of the talent around him. He’s playing behind a much improved offensive line, and has a ton of playmakers at the skill positions. Manuel, however, in his FSU career, has been way up and down; and many who’ve watched him closely deem him to be a tad inconsistent. For FSU’s sake, he tends to play well in big games. For Clemson’s sake, the more he’s rattled, the more errant his passes become.
When EJ arrived at FSU, many thought he could be the next Charlie Ward. While he’s a far cry from the former Heisman winner, he’s a solid dual-threat quarterback who has an excellent sense of when to throw and when to run. His ability to extend plays is definitely a factor that opposing defenses must account for, and he throws the deep ball extraordinarily well. Manuel has gotten a lot better with his pocket presence and going through his progressions, but he still struggles immensely at times with his accuracy.
The quarterback play of EJ Manuel, I think, is the biggest key to this game. If he’s comfortable and gets time to throw, he’ll have some open receivers who can make plays. If not, it could be a slow night for the Seminole offense. I’ll have plenty more of EJ and the rest of the keys to this game coming throughout the week.