QB's return rubbing off on fellow 'Noles

WR Rodney Smith (Steve Chase)

Clint Trickett proved against Clemson that he could move Florida State through the air, but the potential return of E.J. Manuel has players like Rodney Smith feeling good about the stretch run.

After time to reflect and recharge, the Seminoles eye a different approach to the rest of their season.

Florida State (2-2) comes off its bye week and heads into Saturday's game at Wake Forest (3-1) knowing the chances of winning the ACC Atlantic Division just got a lot harder with Clemson's success. While the Seminoles' schedule looks favorable, this team has realized the primary goal must be to match or surpass last year's win total (10) no matter what happens elsewhere.

"We just have to keep looking forward because we've still got a big season ahead of ourselves," said receiver Rodney Smith. "We've just got to let everybody know we've got to continue to work hard."

Helping the mood is the possibility that quarterback E.J. Manuel will be ready to play. He practiced Monday in full pads and tested out his shoulder. But since practices are closed after the first 10-20 minutes, it's still uncertain whether Manuel will be declared the starter.

"I guess so, yeah," said FSU coach Jimbo Fisher when asked if Manuel could return. "We'll see how it goes. He went out there and practiced some [last week], but hopefully he'll be ready to roll."

Manuel said he had a hard time staying in a positive frame of mind the past two weeks, following two losses and his injury. But he was in good spirits when meeting with the media, and the team seems to have an uplifted mood.

"It was tough," Manuel said. "I usually don't get down like that. Especially because I don't normally get hurt like that. ... Obviously, I didn't mean to get hurt. It's just part of football. It's one of those things that until you experience it, you don't know how you're going to handle it."

The Seminoles could not have scripted an easier ACC schedule the rest of the way. They play Wake Forest, then Duke on the road, before coming home for games against Maryland and N.C. State. It's very manageable. And it may allow for FSU to discover a rushing attack.

"It's good to come off an off weekend," Fisher said. "Get a little rest, try and recharge the batteries. Hopefully, we're getting healthy."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think we handled a lot of stuff, a lot of mishaps as far as doing the right things on and off the field. With us losing those two games, you can either go south or you can go north as far as your attitude throughout the season. We've got a lot football left to play." -- Florida State QB E.J. Manuel on a players meeting that preceded preparations for Saturday's game against Wake Forest.

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