Monday, August 20, 2012
Young QBs coming on strong for FSU
By David M. Hale
Nothing creates a few hours of panic quite like an injury scare for the starting quarterback, but the worst fears of Florida State fans were soothed quickly last week as EJ Manuel's ankle issues proved little more than some minor swelling.
Manuel missed FSU's first scrimmage of the fall, but he was back in the practice field in full pads, taking every rep the following day. No harm done, Jimbo Fisher said.
But the fleeting concerns about Manuel's health did manage to shine some light on just how deep Florida State's QB ranks are at the moment.
Sure, an injury to Manuel would certainly damage the Seminoles' hopes for a national title, but behind him on the depth chart, FSU is still in pretty good shape.
Clint Trickett has bulked up during the offseason, and he's throwing the ball well so far this fall, including a relatively good performance running the first-team offense in Manuel's absence during last week's scrimmage.
Redshirt freshman Jacob Coker continues to progress, too. While he's still clearly behind Trickett on the depth chart, his progression throughout the past few months has made it a battle for the No. 2 job.
“Last year I was lost,” Coker said. “(Now) I’m picking up blitzes and realizing what’s changing when we get different looks.”
Even further down the depth chart, FSU has two freshmen likely headed for redshirts in 2012, but both of whom have potential to become starters in the ACC.
Jameis Winston was the top-ranked quarterback recruit in the nation last year. He's already shown why scouts drooled over his potential -- not just with a strong arm, but with a commanding personality.
"He's very confident in himself, which is a good thing," Trickett said. "You have to be. I'm not downplaying it. He's confident in himself, and he's picked (the offense) up a lot faster than I thought he would, a lot faster than most guys do. And he's a lot smarter than most people think."
For all the hype Winston received coming out of high school, his confidence is perhaps overshadowed by his relaxed demeanor and easygoing personality.
"He's a clown out there, which is good," Trickett said. "Some people, some young guys come in and try to win the Heisman their first week here. Jameis wasn't, but he was definitely fun to be around and high intensity at all times."
Meanwhile, Sean Maguire didn't arrive amid the same hype Winston received. But he has a strong arm and a good understanding of Fisher's pro style offense, which puts him well ahead of the typical No. 5 quarterback.
"Sean's done a better job than I thought he would," Trickett said. "Everyone gave Jameis all the attention when he came in, but Sean throws a great ball. He's picking up the offense, too, and he's impressed me."
Odds are, FSU's best hope for a championship is keeping Manuel on his feet and on the field for the entirety of the season. But if that happens, it will be an exception to the norm for the Seminoles.
In five of the last six seasons, the back-up quarterback at Florida State has started at least two games, including last season when Trickett started in losses to Clemson and Wake Forest.
"You never know when you're going to go in," Trickett said. "You've got to be ready."