Ground game needs Manuel's legs again
QB E.J. Manuel (Steve Chase)
QB E.J. Manuel (Steve Chase)
Special to NoleDigest.com
Posted Sep 29, 2011


The Florida State running game is one of the worst in the country, but getting E.J. Manuel back healthy again might help rectify that problem since he has been the Seminoles' best rusher so far.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The Seminoles have fallen all the way to No. 113 nationally in rushing offense, averaging just 79.5 yards per game. That was the kind of anemic rushing attack prevalent when Jeff Bowden was the offensive coordinator.

If you take away QB E.J. Manuel's rushing in the first three games, the per-game average gets much worse. The Seminoles will spend the open week searching for some ways to get their experienced offensive line to open some running lanes. If Manuel is able to play Oct. 8 against Wake Forest, he brings that added dimension. If not, the Seminoles will hope someone emerges. Only Chris Thompson took handoffs against Clemson, and he was also the guy lined up in the Wildcat formation. It's obvious the Seminoles have not felt confident enough in freshmen Devonta Freeman or James Wilder Jr. to put them into pressure situations.

Injuries, lack of depth and lack of practice in the spring and preseason have all been factors hurting the offensive line.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The group took a major step backward against Clemson, resembling the porous unit of past years. It gave up 445 yards total offense, including 334 passing yards. The Seminoles hurt themselves with penalties and an inability to stop third-and-long situations. It seemed like the physical nature of the Oklahoma game sapped the energy from the FSU defense. They couldn't get off the field and were unable to contain Clemson speedster receiver Sammy Watkins. But with a week off to heal physically and emotionally, Florida State coaches hoped for a much better performance against Wake Forest.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

WR Rashad Greene: He has become the biggest impact freshman on the team after five TD grabs.

DE Bjoern Werner: He's been the most noticeable player on FSU's defensive line. He followed a standout game against Oklahoma by returning a fumble 25 yards for a score against Clemson, giving FSU its first defensive touchdown of the season.

TE Nick O'Leary: The heralded true freshman made his first start against Clemson, and the Seminoles may continue to feature him as a receiver and possible run blocker on sweeps.

K Dustin Hopkins: Not only is he reliable on extra points and field goals, Hopkins continually places kicks in the end zone to avoid run backs.

ROSTER REPORT

The Seminoles did not practice the first two days of the week, so getting an accurate injury report has been difficult. FSU does have its best depth at quarterback, receiver and running back. ...

Manuel (left shoulder) has an AC joint injury that caused him to miss the Clemson game. He watched from the sideline in warmup gear and was involved in the strategy. With a week off, then time to prepare for Wake Forest, the feeling is that he may be ready to go. But after Clint Trickett handled the road situation better than FSU could have envisioned, there won't be a rush to get Manuel back. The 'Noles may want to ensure he is fully healthy. ...

CB Greg Reid (knee, arrest) didn't play against Clemson, then was the subject of more unwanted news on Sept. 26. The junior was arrested early Monday by Tallahasssee police on two misdemeanors. However, the charges were dropped Wednesday, and he will not be disciplined by coach Jimbo Fisher for the incident. Reid was already suspended for the Charleston Southern game on Sept. 10 for an undisclosed violation of team rules. The two incidents are separate. Either way, it's not good for a player FSU was counting on for a big year. ...

Bert Reed (ankle) missed his second game when not playing against Clemson, so it was more than a minor "tweak" as Fisher originally described his injury. It is expected he can return for Wake Forest. ...

WR Jarred Haggins (broken left hand) is out four to six weeks minimum with this injury. He sustained the injury in the Oklahoma game and kept playing, although he didn't catch a pass in the latter part of the game when FSU discovered the injury. ...

WR Kenny Shaw (concusssion) was one of the more amazing aspects of the Clemson game for FSU, being able to play following his exit in an ambulance, strapped on a stretcher, after getting knocked out against Oklahoma. Even more amazing, he caught a touchdown pass against Clemson. ...

WR Willie Haulstead (concussion) has not played this season and he may be a candidate to be redshirted. The Seminoles were counting on him to be one of their go-to receivers.



Related Stories
JC's Chat Session: Bye Week Q&A
 -by NoleDigest.com  Sep 29, 2011
NoleDigest Video: S Lamarcus Joyner
 -by NoleDigest.com  Sep 28, 2011
Schedule suggests an FSU turnaround
 -by NoleDigest.com  Sep 28, 2011

MAGAZINE COVERAGE
Get the 2014 Scout.com Recruiting Yearbook with an annual Total Access Pass
Sign Up Today!

Upgrade Now!
Free Email Newsletter
Don't miss any news or features from NoleDigest.com. Subscribe to our newsletter to have our newest articles emailed to you on a daily or weekly basis.
Click here for a list of all Team Newsletters.

Add Topics to My HotList
Get free email alerts with news about your favorite topics. Click link to add to My HotList.
Football > Florida State
[View My HotList]