'Noles a different team with Manuel

While he may not deserve all the credit for Florida State's three-game win streak, according to coach Jimbo Fisher, junior quarterback E.J. Manuel can make all the difference for the Seminoles.

Three became the best number for the Seminoles on Saturday.

After winning their third straight game in blowout fashion, all wins with 30-plus points scored, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher was asked for a difference in the turnaround for the Seminoles (5-3, 3-2 in ACC).

"Three," Fisher said, referring to quarterback E.J. Manuel's uniform number, following a 34-0 home win against NC State. "He makes you play better. He opens up your offense, he lets you do things. And I don't think that's all him, but our team confidence has grown. When your leader leaves, it's different. And now he's back, and their confidence as a football team grows. And I'm not saying he's doing everything himself, but they're all playing better."

The Seminoles now head into a quick turnaround to play a Thursday night game against Boston College. This is a situation where the weather, the travel and the timing before FSU's rivalry game against Miami on Nov. 12 could be factors.

The Seminoles hate playing Thursday night games but are forced to fulfill an ESPN mandate in the ACC television contract of at least one Thursday night game in two seasons. The Seminoles have usually chosen to play on the road, rather than give up a Saturday home date. In this case, they catch a break, because Boston College played Saturday on the road vs. Maryland, so each team has the same turnaround time.

FSU practiced Sunday and will accelerate preparations Monday and Tuesday before leaving Wednesday night for Boston.

"It's a different type of ballgame when you've got to turn around and play again in five days," said linebacker Vince Williams. "But I think we finally have the leadership and the maturity to do it. Coach Fisher addressed it in the locker room, that it's gonna be a quick turnaround, and I think the older guys are gonna help pull the younger guys and help them understand this is just another game and this is how we prepare."

The Seminoles have not played a game on short rest since 2007, but this might be the best situation if the weather cooperates. Boston College has struggled all year and doesn't have the athletes of some past teams. In contrast, FSU has appeared to hit stride with Manuel healthy, a reshaped offensive line holding up and the return of the same Seminoles' defense that started the first three games of the season.


One of FSU's preseason strengths is starting to show. Eight different receivers combined to produce 321 total offensive yards against NC State. It coincides with this group finally getting healthy. And the top receiver, Rashad Greene, was held out with an ankle injury.

"We like to have our dominant guy, but you like to put it to whoever is getting the one-on-one coverage," Fisher said. "You like to get to a point where you can interchange guys. When Rodney [Smith] was playing really well, but then was struggling a little in the second half, then Greg Dent could go in there for him and play. Kenny Shaw, Bert [Reed] -- everybody was making plays. To me that's a good thing, because on defense, if all your balls are going to the same guy or two, then you've got problems." ...

The Seminoles were once thrilled when knowing golf legend Jack Nicklaus, the grandfather of tight end Nick O'Leary, would be traveling often to see the true freshman play this season. But they might not feel that way anymore. Nicklaus, who played football as a youth, went on the ESPNU broadcast and questioned why O'Leary wasn't more involved in the FSU offense. He implied the coaches weren't doing a good enough job to get O'Leary more catches.

The interview made Nicklaus sound like a demanding youth sports parent. O'Leary caught one pass in the game -- a 25-yard reception that was his longest this season -- and has nine catches for the year at FSU. One problem was he was hampered with a minor injury, and FSU has been reluctant to use him in certain situations with blocking assignment responsibilities. The 'Noles have also never been a team that features a tight end. ...

Kicker Dustin Hopkins missed another field goal, only the second this season, but there was good reason. The Seminoles gambled on Hopkins trying a 52-yarder into a driving wind in the third quarter, and the ball was knocked short by a wind gust.

"I probably should have punted that ball," Fisher said. "They thought he could get it there from there. Probably should have punted that ball with the lead 24-nothing." ...

Included in the Seminoles forcing a season-high three turnovers were the first career interception Williams and the first interception this season by sophomore cornerback Xavier Rhodes. ...

With their 30-plus points against NC State, the Seminoles have now eclipsed 30 or more points in five straight games. That has not happened since 2002.


"Hopefully, people start to take notice. But if they don't, they don't. We'll worry about us. We have to continue to play well, do well, do the things we do. Whatever's written, whatever's voted, whatever's done, we can't control. The only thing we can control is how we play, and that's what our focus is on." -- Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher on whether his team's win streak will regain attention in the polls.

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