No. 11 FSU, No. 21 Clemson face injuries
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher isn’t so sure injured
quarterback EJ Manuel will play Saturday. Clemson coach Dabo
”I expect him to play,” the Tigers coach said this week as No.
21 Clemson gets ready to host the 11th-ranked Seminoles in an
Atlantic Coast Conference game.
Manuel hurt his left, non-throwing shoulder in a 23-13 loss to
No. 1 Oklahoma last week and the Seminoles (2-1) are eager to
bounce back at Death Valley. That won’t be easy without Manuel, a
junior who did not practice this week and was listed as
Swinney is planning for Manuel, but Florida State’s staff isn’t
so sure their quarterback will be healthy enough to play. Fisher
twice had similar injuries during his playing days and understands
how painful they can be.
”But they are tolerable and you can manage through those,”
Fisher said. ”You’ve just got to make sure it doesn’t affect your
An MRI showed no structural damage to Manuel’s shoulder.
Manuel’s motion was near flawless before the injury. He’s
completed 67 percent of his passes for 666 yards and six
touchdowns, and is among the top six in ACC pass efficiency and
The junior has also been the Seminoles most effective rusher for
a ground game that’s yet to take off. Manuel leads the Seminoles
with 79 yards rushing.
If Manuel can’t go, Florida State would again call on Clint
Trickett, a freshman who subbed against Oklahoma and tied things up
13-all in the final quarter with a 56-yard touchdown pass to Rashad
Trickett took all the first-team snaps and looked good doing it,
Fisher said. And all the while, ”Guys are getting healthier,” he
Clemson had its own concerns after starting tailback Andre
Ellington hurt is hamstring and was on the sideline for much of the
second half in a 38-24 victory over defending national champion
Auburn. But Swinney said Thursday that Ellington will play.
Manuel isn’t Florida State’s only issue. Receiver Bert Reed
didn’t play against Oklahoma because of an ankle problem, while
wideout Kenny Shaw left the field in an ambulance after a
helmet-to-helmet hit. Shaw returned to the sideline before the end
of the game.
While Reed hasn’t practiced, Shaw was back for Thursday’s
workout. Fisher said injuries to key players makes for uncertain
times around the football offices.
”It affects you,” the second-year head coach conceded.
”Injuries are a part of football.”
So is coping with them.
Clemson didn’t do that so well a year ago when Ellington left
the Boston College game with a foot injury. The Tigers lost to the
Eagles, 16-10, then lost three more games in November and December
to go 6-7, their first losing season in 12 years.
Ellington had offseason surgery and appeared strong this season,
posting his longest touchdown run, a 74-yarder in a win over
Wofford. But Ellington played 47 snaps against Auburn with only a
handful coming in the second half after he tweaked his
It appeared backup D.J. Howard would be a reliable option after
he rushed for 86 yards last week. But Swinney said Howard hurt his
hamstring at practice Tuesday and is questionable.
Howard’s play was critical down the stretch as Clemson held the
ball and ran out the final 9:34 of the game.
”Really proud of the way D.J. stepped in,” Clemson offensive
coordinator Chad Morris said.
The Tigers rolled up 624 yards of offense on the defending
national champs. They’re not likely to have it as easy on a very
healthy Florida State defense, which held Oklahoma to under 200
yards passing and fewer than 3 yards a carry.
”There’s no doubt how physical they played against Oklahoma,”
Morris said. ”That’s our biggest task.”
Seminoles middle linebacker Vince Williams called the Tigers
offense, ”smoke and mirrors kind of stuff.”
”They try and get you confused. They call the offense from the
line of scrimmage like Oklahoma,” he continued. ”They also do a
lot of the same things” as the Sooners.
Clemson is trying for its 4-0 start since 2007 and to keep alive
a streak of Death Valley success over Florida State, which hasn’t
won at Memorial Stadium since 2001.
Brent Kallestad in Tallahassee, Fla. contributed to this