Going into fall camp last season Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher had the luxury of having a senior starter in Christian Ponder, and an experienced back-up in E.J. Manuel.
Heading into fall practice next week, that is a luxury that Fisher doesn't have in 2011. But just because Fisher doesn't have an experienced back-up, don't expect him to tear out the designed quarterback runs from his playbook this fall.
While it would seem to be a big risk to have Manuel carry the ball a ton in 2011, Fisher said in his opinion it is more likely his 6'5, 246-pound signal caller would get hurt dropping back to pass.
"Guys get hurt in pocket more than they get hurt running around," he said. "Because when they're running around they see shots, and they can deliver them. It's the blindside shots you take in the pocket that get you hurt as much as anywhere when you're running."
Fisher pointed to the success Auburn had last season running Cam Newton, despite not having a proven back-up behind him. In 2010 Ponder and Manuel ran for a combined 350 yards and four touchdowns.
Manuel averaged 4.1 yards per carry. In his first start of the season he ran for 71 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries against Clemson.
When asked about running the ball and staying healthy, Manuel said he thinks he can do it. Unlike Ponder, who sometimes would try to go over linebackers rather than slide, the Virginia Beach native said his running style allows him to avoid the big hit and avoid injury.
Fisher agreed with Manuel and said that other players that didn't have the size he does , like Warrick Dunn, were able to avoid the big blow and stay healthy.
"People always said as soon as we hit him we're going to hurt him-well nobody every hit him," Fisher said of Dunn. "There are certain backs... those guys just have that knack, certain athletes to dodge, avoid or are just smart enough to see the game.
"I always remember watching Charlie when he played, and I don't mean to compare (EJ) to him, but Charlie looked like he was in slow motion and nobody could catch him. Charlie wasn't big, they could never get to him, those guys have a certain knack and maybe (Manuel's) got it."
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