We are roughly a quarter of the way through the 2012 college football season, and I have heard a over a dozen names thrown into the Heisman trophy mix. One name I have yet to hear is EJ Manuel, the 6’5, 240-pound senior quarterback for the No. 4 Florida State Seminoles.
Manuel had a lot of buzz heading into the 2011 season as it was his first year as the Seminoles starting quarterback. Unfortunately, the Noles lost three of their opening five games, killing the hype.
Florida State did go on to win seven of their last eight games, including a Champs Sports Bowl win over the No. 11 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and that momentum has surely carried over to this season.
EJ Manuel and his squad have not yet been battle-tested but they are 3-0 after they waxed the Murray State Racers (69-3), Savannah State Tigers (55-0), and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (52-0).
Manuel has undoubtedly proved that his production will improve this year. As a junior, he threw for 2666 yards, 18 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. He averaged a terrible 1.4 yards-per-carry on 110 rushes.
Even though he has yet to face a solid defense, Manuel has thrown for 525 yards with a 71% completion rate, 6 touchdowns and only 1 interception. On the ground, he is averaging 6.6 yard-per-carry, for 86 yards and a score.
So how can EJ put himself into Heisman contention?
A big game from Manuel, and a Florida State win, opens a clear path to a possible National Championship birth. Manuel doesn’t necessarily need to have a “Heisman moment” tonight, but the Noles must win. There are games later on in which a “Heisman moment” can occur.
Key games remaining for EJ and the Seminoles other than tonight’s show, include a trip to play the Miami Hurricanes, (although they are terrible) another road game against the Virginia Tech Hokies, and a season finale at home against the Florida Gators.
If Manuel can keep Florida State undefeated heading into that prime-time, nationally televised game on ESPN against the Hokies, he will certainly be in the mix with a chance to impress the entire nation on a big stage.
Obviously this is asking a lot, but this is the path. If EJ can lead FSU to an ACC championship and possibly a showdown with a Goliath SEC opponent, (cough, BAMA) Manuel will have some considerable Heisman buzz.
Paul Bentley is a contributor to Rant Sports
Follow Bentley on Twitter at @KKingBentley
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