Posted by Bryan Fischer
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- You always have to take the Spring Game of a team with a grain of salt. After all, you still have to throw in freshmen, get injured players back and not mention go through several weeks of fall camp before you can truly get an idea of what a team is made of.
Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher took the Seminoles' Spring Game with a bit of salt Saturday afternoon but he also managed to find just a little bit of sugar in an other wise down day for starting quarterback E.J. Manuel.
"He was frustrated but I got more out of him today because we struggled and he didn't have a good day," Fisher said. "At the end of the day we had a chance to make plays and we made a few plays."
Manuel was just 17 of 36 on the day and struggled to find his rhythm behind a patchwork offensive line. He did toss a touchdown but also threw two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown by cornerback Greg Reid. However, Manuel put his team, the 'Gold' team, in a position to win the game by driving the offense nearly 80 yards to get a shot at the comeback. Despite being in field goal range to win the game, 'Garnet' coaches opted to go for a touchdown and Manuel threw a strike to receiver James Dolan, who came up two yards short of the end zone.
While he did have some ups and downs throughout the day, it was Manuel's short memory that might have been his most impressive trait following the game. Some players might use the performance to motivate themselves through the summer but the calm and collected Manuel realizes that a bad afternoon in the Spring Game doesn't count one iota in the standings come fall.
"I do but at the same time not really because it is just a spring game," he said. "I don't want to down play it at all because I wanted to win. It's our 15th practice and I definitely wanted to show up better in front of the crowd but it is what it is."
Running backs Devonta Freeman (25 yards on seven carries) and Jermaine Thomas (20 yards on four carries) both had solid performances given the circumstances, namely most of the offensive line watching on the sidelines. Greg Dent was the leading receiver and seemed to develop into Manuel's favorite target over the course of the game. In the end though, it was the 6-foot-5, 235 pound quarterback struggling and keeping his emotions bottled up that really impressed his coach.
"He was frustrated but he didn't let it out or let his teammates know it," Fisher said. "That makes me sleep well. There's a bigger picture that I'm trying to get him to and that's what I was pleased with."
"I think everyone knows the goals and where we want to be this year," Manuel added. "We don't want to fall short. Everybody being on the same page is vital and I think everybody is on the same page right now."