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October 10, 2011

Insider Report: Manuel bounces back, injury updates, things to watch

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Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher elected to not start quarterback EJ Manuel against Wake Forest on Saturday because "one good hit could set him back six weeks."

But after redshirt freshman Clint Trickett turned the ball over three times, Fisher decided to insert Manuel into the game. After taking a few hits in the 35-30 loss, Manuel said his shoulder felt fine on Sunday morning. That's good news for the Seminoles moving forward as Manuel was named the starter for this weekend's game by Fisher on Monday.

"Surprisingly I woke up the next morning and my shoulder didn't hurt," he said. "I felt a lot better, it was just a little bit of soreness from not playing for three weeks and things like that, so it felt good."

Fisher was also pleasantly pleased with how his 6-foot-5 signal caller felt.

"Actually much better than we thought," Fisher said. "Not what (the medical staff) said. They said he could be done for a while if he took one good shot, one good pop, and he actually came out pretty well and felt pretty good. He came out of the game much better than he did in practice last week."

Manuel said he was hit a few times in the game and came up fine each time so he doesn't think the injury will be an issue moving forward.

" I fell on it, I want to say three for four times," he said Monday. "I was trying to kind of angle it so I fell right on my back. I popped right up, it might have been adrenaline, it might of just been the want-to to continue to play, so I felt good."

Fisher expects Manuel to have little issue with that left shoulder this week.

"EJ should be good," he said. " He should be good to go because he came out of (last week) good and his shoulder feels good. EJ will be the starter. He would have last week if they said he would have been healthy go."

Datko's return doubtful

Fisher was not optimistic about the return of starting left tackle Andrew Datko.

After battling through shoulder injuries last season - and an unsuccessful surgery in the spring - it would appear that Datko's season may be finished.

"I don't want to say he won't but I doubt he'll play the rest of the year," Fisher said.

Fisher said Datko needs another surgery, but will continue to try and work on getting to a point where he can play through the pain.

"He's trying to strengthen and try to do that. See if he can bring the strength back in them like he did last year," Fisher said. "See if he can salvage any, but I don't know if that's the right thing to do. That's why we elected to not play him then. He tired to spend two weeks to get strengths back in his shoulders."

Thompson back in Tallahassee

After staying behind in Winston-Salem, N.C. on Saturday due to a broken back, Chris Thompson returned to Tallahassee on Sunday night.

"Chris is back and doing very well," Fisher said of the junior running back. "Broke the T5 and T6 in his back…Will probably be in a brace up to three months. He flew back home last night. Was in good spirits. Actually doing very well considering the circumstances of what happened and how it happened. The outcome looks very good."

Fisher said doctors have told him at this time it is uncertain if the injury will be career ending or not for the 5-foot-8, 190-pound junior.

"We'll have to wait and see how it goes. Anytime with that-it's a healing process," Fisher said. "I asked our trainers that too, and they said it just depends on how it heals, he could still be ok. I think that's down the road."

The good news was that Thompson was able to come out to FSU's practice on Monday. Wearing his No. 23 practice jersey, Thompson laughed and joked with teammates and seemed to be in good spirits.

What to watch for this week

Running back situation

With Thompson sidelined indefinitely with a broken back, who steps in as the Seminoles' starting tailback? While there's no such thing as a feature tailback in this offense, it looks as if freshmen Devonta Freeman and James Wilder Jr. are in line for a heavier workload.

Senior Ty Jones has been relatively ineffective (19 carries, 67 yards, 3.3 ypc) and it's safe to assume that senior Jermaine Thomas is back in the doghouse after his inexplicable side-to-side run deep in FSU's own territory that led to a safety.

Freeman led the team with 37 yards on five carries in the loss to Wake Forest.

Offensive line shakeup

Could there be a shake-up across an offensive front that has not been productive through the Seminoles' first five games? Datko is almost certainly out for the year, which allowed true freshman Bobby Hart to get the start at left tackle at Wake Forest.

If the line continues to struggle, especially in the running game, could the bevy of young lineman start to see more experience moving forward? With David Spurlock and Garrett Faircloth missing practice on Monday, Tre' Jackson earned some first-team reps at right guard. Hart also switched to right tackle while senior Zebrie Sanders flipped to left tackle.

Notables

  • The Seminoles are dead last in all of Division I-A in penalties, averaging 9.4 per game.

  • FSU ranks in a tie for 114th in turnover margin (minus-1.4 per game)

  • Receiver Scooter Haggins returned to practice in pads for the first time since breaking his hand in the loss to Oklahoma on Sept. 17.



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