Florida State Seminoles: Toshmon Stevens

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- EJ Manuel walked off the field last week wounded.

His head was woozy and his body beaten after a physical game against Florida, but it was the mental scars that were so evident when it was over. Manuel was beaten, his final home game concluding as one of his worst.
[+] EnlargeEJ Manuel
Sam Sharpe/US PresswireEJ Manuel was the starter in FSU's last appearance in tha ACC title game, but threw two interceptions in the loss to Virginia Tech.

Manuel's misery was intense, but it was short lived.

"He’s been through this enough where he’ll put it behind him because there is a lot to accomplish," Jimbo Fisher said.

Manuel gets his second crack at an ACC championship and his first shot at redemption following the loss to Florida when he takes on Georgia Tech's woeful defense Saturday with a conference title hanging in the balance.

It won't erase the scars of Florida, but it would be an accomplishment no other FSU quarterback has managed in seven years.

“It is a championship game and it hasn’t been done here since ’05," Manuel said. "You just have to move on, process [the loss] and understand why you made those mistakes. Can’t go out there and do that [this] week.”

Manuel is making his second ACC championship game start. The first came as something of a surprise against Virginia Tech in 2010, and Manuel managed to impress -- completing 75 percent of his passes and throwing for 288 yards -- but this time he expects even more.

“It’s kind of like a second bowl game," Manuel said. "The implications of this game are huge and I understand that, my teammates understand that, so we have to get the job done.”

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If Florida State is going to live up to its preseason hype this year, it is going to have to do it now without its top two defensive players from a year ago.

The Seminoles are going to be without preseason All-America defensive end Brandon Jenkins for the rest of the season, a difficult enough proposition on its own. But couple that with the loss of cornerback/returner Greg Reid -- kicked off the team this summer -- and the Noles are sitting with a major talent deficit.

What helps is that Florida State has depth at defensive end, and young players with potential in the secondary. Senior Cornellius Carradine will step into the starting job for Jenkins. He has experience, and he played well against Murray State on Saturday after Jenkins got hurt, making nine tackles. The Noles also have redshirt freshman Giorgio Newberry and senior Toshmon Stevens and could consider pulling the redshirt from highly touted Mario Edwards Jr., the No. 1 player on the ESPN 150 for the class of 2012.

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Injury could open door for Edwards

September, 3, 2012
On Monday afternoon, Jimbo Fisher praised the depth of talent he had at defensive end, suggesting there simply wouldn't be playing time for freshmen Mario Edwards Jr. and Chris Casher, two of the nation's top recruits.

By Monday night, however, things had changed.

All-ACC defensive end Brandon Jenkins will miss the season with a foot injury, and while the Seminoles are well stocked at the position to overcome the loss, Fisher might now need to reconsider whether he'll redshirt both of his freshmen.

With Jenkins sidelined, senior Cornellius Carradine will step into the starting job. Carradine led all FSU defenders with nine tackles against Murray State, including two for a loss. Carradine recorded 5.5 sacks last season, his first at Florida State after transferring from Butler Community College.

Redshirt freshman Giorgio Newberry and senior Toshmon Stevens both saw extensive playing time against Murray State on Saturday, and Fisher could consider that enough depth to move forward.

But while the decision to redshirt Edwards seemed clear-cut just a day earlier, Jenkins' injury clearly complicates matters.

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