ON TAP: 2012 FSU Football Breakdown, The Almighty Quarterback Position

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Video: FSU EJ Manuel 2011 Highlights (courtesy of mgodbold1080)

The curse of the rogue M&M will haunt Florida State’s baseball program for at least one more year…time to bring on some football.

Football is king at Florida State so in the next few weeks I will break down the 2012 Seminoles position by position. On tap today is the almighty quarterback position.

For the past two years the Seminoles have been led by E.J. Manuel, and the 2012 season will be no different. The 6’5, 238 pound behemoth will once again be taking snaps as the starter and the success of this year depends on him. The question is, how will E.J. find that success?

Manuel has been battling injuries over the past two years. His shoulder in 2010, which carried over to the 2011 season, followed by a fractured fibula in last year’s bowl game against Notre Dame. E.J.’s toughness is no question. He played the second half of the Notre Dame game with the broken leg (notice he did not go under center the entire second half). But, Manuel must stay healthy for the Noles to have a chance at the national spotlight in 2012 because, frankly, the backup options are questionable at best (more on that later).

The play calling needs to change to keep E.J. healthy. Less quarterback keepers on the veer would be a great start, as he has taken way too many hits, specifically on roll outs that end in 2-yard poundings. The running game should be able to help more this season, relying less on Manuel’s legs to get the tough yardage.

E.J. has done nothing but improve from year to year in his Florida State tenure, and in 2012 the sky is the limit for the fifth year senior. Manuel played in 12 games last year, completing a respectable 65.3 percent of his throws for 2,666 yards and 18 touchdowns, compared to just 8 interceptions. However, respectable is just not acceptable at Florida State. The numbers were good, but not great. Remember, E.J. was supposed to be a dark horse Heisman contender last year. It is time to live up to the hype.

E.J.’s. biggest issue may have more to do with the coaching staff than him. I am not sure Jimbo Fisher is the best coach for a quarterback with Manuel’s skill sets and personality. E.J. seems to be one of those players that wants to stay out of the limelight. He may react better to sit down talks rather than sideline tirades.

Jimbo does not hide his emotions on the field. The picture of Jimbo screaming at his quarterback topped with a look of sheer disappointment is engrained in my head from last year. Jimbo has a history of laying into his quarterbacks, on national television. He expects Manuel to comprehend the entire offense that Christian Ponder mastered, however I am not sure if Manuel can do that. Ponder is exceptionally intelligent on and off the field and Manuel is a different player and person. Using the same coaching tactics, and having the same level of expectations, isn’t always realistic.  The coaches job is to do whatever it takes to win games and make his players better on and off the field. So far, in my opinion, Jimbo has not done his job with Manuel.

After E.J. the position becomes a montage of decent and potential talent. Last year, Clint Trickett filled in well while E.J. was nursing various bumps and bruises, but the 175 pound (soaking wet) bean stalk cannot be counted on to win games. However, Tricket will probably fall to the third option for the Noles in 2012. Jacob Coker should win the backup role this season. Coker is a giant who moves very well and has a live arm. He will likely win the starting role in 2013, depending on the development of incoming freshman phenom Jameis Winston.

Jameis Winston could be the next great college quarterback but I do not want to jinx it, so I am leaving it at that.

Another guy to look out for is new freshman Sean Maguire. He is my favorite for the starting position sometime in 2014 or 2015. I like an underdog and this kid reminds me a lot of Christian Ponder. He is smart, has a big arm, and can move well. Don’t sleep on Maguire, he could be a nice little Tallahassee surprise.

The season rides on the health and confidence of E.J. Manuel. He is 2-for-2 in bowl games and has played very well with the chips on the table. So, throw your 3’s up and enjoy the ride, anything can happen in 2012.

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