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EJ Manuel May Not Play; Can FSU Win Without Him?

Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel could be sidelined for Saturday’s game against Clemson. The junior suffered a sprained AC joint in his non-throwing shoulder in Saturday’s loss to Oklahoma.

Manuel did not practice on Monday and is considered day-to-day by coach Jimbo Fisher. If he cannot start against Clemson, redshirt freshman Clint Trickett will start. Trickett completed 7 of 15 throws for 134 yards and one touchdown in Saturday’s loss to Oklahoma. However, Trickett has only 23 career attempts and has yet to make a start.

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This is not the Manuel’s first shoulder injury. In 2010, Manuel had surgery on his throwing shoulder, which prevented him from suiting up in spring practice.

Manuel is off to a good start this season, throwing for 666 yards and six touchdowns in three games. The junior completed 13 of 19 passes for 85 yards and two interceptions before leaving with an injury against the Sooners. Manuel is considered one of the top quarterbacks in the ACC and should be battling with Maryland’s Danny O’Brien to earn first-team all-conference honors at the end of the year.

Saturday’s matchup against Clemson is a big one in the ACC Atlantic race. The Seminoles are considered the favorite to win the division, but the Tigers are a dangerous team, especially with the offense starting to click. Clemson has played well at home against Florida State in recent years, winning the last four matchups in Death Valley. The Tigers are also coming off a huge win over Auburn, which has given the team momentum going into Week 4.

Manuel’s status is even more important to this matchup, considering the struggles of Florida State's offensive line and running backs so far this year. The Seminoles rank 100th nationally in rushing offense and are managing only 3.2 yards per carry.

Florida State can certainly lean on its defense to win in Death Valley on Saturday. However, a healthy Manuel would certainly help the Seminoles’ chances of victory.

Expect Manuel to be a gametime decision for Florida State, but Fisher and the staff will have Trickett prepped throughout the week in case he needs to start. 

Even if Florida State has to go without Manuel, don't be surprised if the Seminoles find a way to win, thanks to one of the nation's best defenses.