Clemson vs. Florida State: Tajh Boyd or EJ Manuel, Which QB Is Better and Why?

Randy ChambersAnalyst ISeptember 19, 2012

Clemson vs. Florida State: Tajh Boyd or EJ Manuel, Which QB Is Better and Why?

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    One of the premier matchups in Week 4 of the college football season is when the Clemson Tigers travel to Tallahassee to play the Florida State Seminoles. Both teams are in the top 10 of both polls and have dreams of not only winning the ACC but also reaching the national championship.

    There's loads of talent on both sides of the ball and many players that you will eventually see playing on Sundays.

    One of the key matchups to pay attention to is the quarterback position, as both offenses are led by experienced upperclassmen. Florida State has senior E.J. Manuel, who is in his second full year as a starting quarterback. Clemson's Tajh Boyd is a junior who is in his second season as the leader as well.

    We will learn a lot about both quarterbacks this weekend, but let's break these two guys down and see who the better quarterback is at the moment.

Arm Strength

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    Tajh Boyd

    Boyd puts a lot of velocity on the football and is capable of making any throw in the middle of the field or putting it where it needs to be on the shorter routes. However, his deep ball is still somewhat of a concern, as the ball does not come out as clean as it should.

    I'm not sure he is capable of hitting the deep pass consistently. I need to see him throw the ball on a line instead of just floating it up to a wide open speedy receiver.

    The arm strength is there, but the consistency remains to be seen.


    E.J. Manuel

    Manuel has the arm strength to make all of the throws, and unlike Boyd, he has shown that he is capable of getting the deep pass down field in a hurry.

    There are really no concerns with the senior when it comes to arm strength. He can launch the ball down the field, make the sideline throws and he gives defensive backs very little time to react to the football.


    Edge: E.J. Manuel


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    Tajh Boyd

    Boyd often gets excited and forces passes, causing him to throw behind his receiver or make an inaccurate throw. (This tends to happen often on the short routes across the middle.)

    He completed less than 60 percent of his passes last year and ended up throwing 12 interceptions, seven of which resulted in the Tigers four losses last season. Boyd needs to settle down and make better decisions with the football.


    E.J. Manuel

    Manuel still has shaky footwork, so all too often he will throw the ball without his feet set and force an inaccurate pass. There is a reason he has thrown 19 interceptions to 30 touchdowns and had six games last season with a completion percentage of less than 65 percent.

    He still tends to force the football into areas where he shouldn't, but he seems to be getting better with his decision making so far this season.


    Advantage: E.J. Manuel (Slightly)


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    Tajh Boyd

    Despite tearing his ACL back in high school, Boyd is still one of the more athletic quarterbacks in college football. But even with that athleticism, he doesn't look to run the second he is given the chance.

    In fact, he only has 326 rushing yards and six touchdowns on the ground in his career at Clemson. He does a good job of buying time in the pocket and is capable of hurting you with his legs, but he would much rather use his arm.  

    E.J. Manuel

    Manuel is more of a runner, as he has over 600 rushing yards and eight touchdowns with his legs in his four-year career at Florida State. He also has no problem taking off, as he will tuck the football and pick up what he can even if he has a little bit more time to find an open receiver.

    Overall, the athleticism and mobility is there when it comes to the senior quarterback.


    Edge: Draw

    Both quarterbacks are more than capable of moving around in the pocket, buying extra time and hurting you with their legs. One just decides to use his legs a little bit more than the other.

Pocket Presence

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    Tajh Boyd

    Boyd likes to get rid of the ball quickly, but due to a horrible offensive line, he was still sacked 32 times last season. He has solid vision of the field when stepping up into the pocket and does a tremendous job of finding the open receiver when he takes his time.

    However, he still tends to force things when being pressured and displays poor footwork, which often results in turnovers for the Clemson offense.


    E.J. Manuel

    Manuel's offensive line was one of the worst in the country last season, allowing him to be sacked 33 times in 2011. He does a great job of keeping his eyes down field when he scrambles around in the pocket but still lets the pressure get to him by forcing the football where he shouldn't.

    Similar to Boyd, Manuel must improve in this area if he is going to be taken seriously as a next-level player.


    Edge: Tajh Boyd


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    I think we all know that E.J. Manuel is the better quarterback of the two. The Florida State signal caller actually has a chance to become one of the better quarterback prospects in the entire 2013 draft class.

    He has tremendous size at 6'5", 240 pounds, that makes him extremely tough to bring down even when defenders do get to him. He also has the terrific arm strength and athleticism that NFL scouts drool over.

    However, he does seem to be more of a project quarterback that will likely be taken somewhere in the third round of next year’s draft.

    Despite all of the tools, Manuel has not reached his full potential yet.

    He still makes bad decisions with the football more than we would like. He isn't as accurate as his completion percentage indicates, and he still tends to leave the pocket quicker than he should at this stage of his career.

    As for Boyd, he is still an unfinished product as well.

    He needs to improve in many areas before he declares himself eligible for the NFL draft, which is why he will likely return for his senior season.

    It should also be noted that Boyd has many more explosive weapons than Manuel does, as throwing to a wide open Sammy Watkins isn't hard to do. And an explosive running game with running back Andre Ellington leading the way only helps open up the passing game as well.

    Overall, the upside for Manuel is ridiculous, which is why he is not only the better quarterback in this weekend’s game, but also the better NFL prospect moving forward.