Manuel deals with game-day nerves

Even now, Florida State junior passer E.J. Manuel still gets nervous before games, which is just fine. His coach, Jimbo Fisher, deals with butterflies on game day, too. He thinks that's a good thing.

With top-ranked Oklahoma looming not far down the road, Florida State quarterback E.J. Manuel is working on shaking off some early-game butterflies.

However, Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher hopes his junior signal caller doesn't ever lose all of his game-day nervousness. Fisher believes some jitters are a good thing for successful athletes and coaches.

Not to worry, said Manuel.

''If I didn't care, I wouldn't be nervous,'' Manuel said Monday. ''It's just me caring, wanting to do well and be successful for my team. I don't think it's a negative thing.''

Manuel missed a few open receivers early in the game during sixth-ranked FSU's 34-0 win over ULM last Saturday before settling down and turning in a strong opening-game performance.

Next up for Florida State is Charleston Southern on Saturday before a showdown with Oklahoma on Saturday, Sept. 17.

''Once you get that first pass, that first completion, you're ready to go,'' said Manuel, who was starting his first game as Florida State's undisputed quarterback following a couple of seasons as Christian Ponder's understudy. He had a 4-2 record in starts when Ponder was out with injuries.

Manuel connected with nine different receivers and completed 22 of 34 passes for 252 yards and two touchdowns against ULM, numbers he could possibly top this weekend when the Seminoles (1-0) host lower-division Charleston Southern (0-1) in what would appear to amount to little more than a tuneup for Oklahoma. The Sooners clobbered Tulsa 47-14 in their opener and are off this weekend with an extra week to prepare for the Seminoles.

''If he's nervous and throws for 65 percent every week, we'll be pretty good,'' said Fisher, a former small-college quarterback before going into coaching.

''If you don't have butterflies, why are you playing?'' Fisher asked. "Every game I've been in, I've had butterflies. When I lose `em, I'll quit.''

Fisher's big challenge this week is keeping the Seminoles focused on Charleston Southern, a FCS team from the Big South Conference that finished 3-8 a year ago and was routed 62-0 last Saturday at Central Florida.

While it's difficult for some to see how the Charleston Southern game will help Florida State get ready for Oklahoma, Fisher said Monday that it could benefit the Seminoles.

''It's the habits that you've created going into that,'' Fisher said. ''That's what this team has to understand no matter who we're playing or when. We control what happens to us.''

Fisher also said that no determination has been made yet on whether junior wide receiver Willie Haulstead (concussion) would be cleared to play against Charleston Southern. Haulstead was the team's second-leading receiver a year ago. The 'Noles otherwise escaped their opener without any significant injuries.


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