Limping Florida State levels the playing field
CLEMSON -- Florida State will enter Memorial Stadium at 3:30 p.m. Saturday (ESPN) with a noticeable limp. How injury-riddled are the Seminoles? Just examine the betting market this week: the opening Vegas line had Clemson as a 3-point underdog; Thursday night, the Tigers were a 2 1/2-point favorite.
In short, Florida State's starting quarterback, starting running back and starting wide receivers are all dealing with injuries.
Seminoles quarterback EJ Manuel has been held out of the practice the entire week due to an injury to his non-throwing shoulder. Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher has not ruled Manuel out for Saturday.
But if the 6-5, 240-pound dual-threat quarterback is unable to play, he'll be replaced by 6-2, 175-pound redshirt freshman Clint Trickett, who completed 7 of 15 passes for 134 in relief of Manuel against Oklahoma. Trickett is not the running threat Manuel is.
"It does make a difference (who starts)," said Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele.
The injuries don't end with Manuel. Florida State star running back Chris Thompson is dealing with a stress fracture in his back, which has led to a decrease in his yards per carry from 6.4 last season to 5.2 this fall.
Florid State's receiver corps has been decimated.
Top receiver Bert Reed (ankle) missed the Oklahoma game and is questionable for Saturday's game. Florida State's other projected starting receiver in August camp, Willie Haustead, has been out with the lingering effects from a concussion. Kenny Shaw is doubtful after suffering a concussion following a violent hit against Oklahoma, and Scooter Haggins is definitely out following wrist surgery.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is not concerned about opponents trying to take away WR Sammy Watkins, who is on pace to break Rod Gardner's single-season receiving yardage mark (1,084 yards in 1999). If Watkins continues to average 97.3 receiving yards per game, he'll record 1,168 receiving yards as a true freshman.
"(Auburn) tried some matchup stuff and our guy was better than their guy," Swinney said. "That third-down (touchdown) play, they couldn't have had a better defense, but our Jimmy was better than their Joe. … If you are going to press us, we'll take chances down field. And we'll throw to him short if you back off."
Manning tabs Boyd
Clemson QB Tajh Boyd was named as the Manning Award Player of the Week after completing 30 of 42 passes for 386 yards and four touchdowns against Auburn. Boyd faces greater tests against Florida State and at Virginia Tech, which rank third and first respectively in defensive passer efficiency in the ACC.
RB Andre Ellington (hamstring), G David Smith (shoulder) and G Mason Cloy (shoulder) are listed as probable. RB D.J. Howard (hamstring) is listed as questionable after suffering an injury in Tuesday's practice.