In the summer of 2011, I heard a lot of hype about a particular quarterback from Florida State named E.J. Manuel, who was set to take the reins from Christian Ponder.
At 6’5" and 245 pounds, the first comparison I thought of was obviously Xavier Lee.
But no one wants to be Xavier Lee. Besides, E.J. Manuel is incredible, and he’s obviously a better quarterback.
But for Florida State to contend for a national title this season, they’re going to need a lot more from EJ Manul than what he gave them last season.
If you take a look at his last season, EJ Manuel looked like a ball-control quarterback. He threw for 2,666 yards, 18 touchdowns and only eight interceptions.
He also completed 65.3 percent of his passes and led them to a 9-3 record in the 12 games he played.
Those numbers are fine and dandy, but E.J. Manuel can be so much better than what his stat sheet supports.
Why do I say that?
In his last five games, he threw five touchdowns and did not throw a single interception.
The good in that is he proved that he can be an efficient quarterback. In that stretch he completed 63.54 percent of his passes attempted.
But the bad is that he threw only five touchdowns. Florida State cannot expect to compete when their best player isn’t throwing touchdowns and being more productive.
During the lone loss against Virginia in that stretch, he only threw one touchdown pass even though he finished 18 for 31 passing the ball.
Just imagine if two of those completions were touchdowns. The score of the game would have been a 27-13 win, instead of a 14-13 loss.
I say at least a 30-touchdown season for E.J. Manuel, and he remains efficient, completing over 64 percent of his passes while keeping his interceptions below 10.
If that can happen, Florida State could possibly roll and become a national title contender.
Florida State’s first three games are against Murray State, Savannah State and Wake Forest. He should get a lot of practice airing it out.