Winston-Salem, N.C.-- The pregame drama of who would start under center for Florida State was better served for a daytime soap opera.
Redshirt freshman Clint Trickett and redshirt junior EJ Manule literally mirrored each other in warm-ups. The two signal callers even alternated snaps with starting center Bryan Stork so as to not tip off Wake Forest either way.
After a three-and-out by Demon Deacons it was Trickett who trotted onto the field with Seminoles first team offense to make his second career start. FSU head coachJimbo Fisher said he went with Trickett because he was told that while Manuel was cleared to play a solid hit could set him back six more weeks."
But after Trickett completed 6 of 11 attempts for 29 yards with two interception, and also fumbling once, Fisher decided to insert Manuel into the game down by nine.
"The way the game was going, we had some turnovers, and Clint had two tipped balls that got intercepted and had the fumble, and I think got a little shell-shocked. Things weren't going well and it was an emergency," Fisher said. "We had to have him come in the game and he did and played well."
On his first possession of the game Manuel led an 88-yard scoring drive capped off by a terrific 46-yard touchdown pass to Rashad Greene.
Manuel completed 19 of 35 pass attempts for 286 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. Manuel said he was excited when the coaches told him to get his helmet, because he got the itch to play after going through warm-ups.
"Any competitor you want to play," he said after the game. "Especially when you're the starter, you feel like you can play, you practiced well, so obliviously I wasn't happy about not starting. Like I said I trust in Coach Fisher, I trust in this team so if that's what he wants to do that's what we're going to do."
After taking a few hits, Manuel said he felt fine after the game. He said he's not 100 percent healthy but no one who plays football is this time of year.
"It felt fine," he said of his shoulder after taking some hits. "I forgot I had a shoulder injury and just went out there and played football and focused on what we had on the field."
Fisher said the debate to play Manuel was one he struggled with all week, but felt the redshirt junior gave FSU the best chance to win the game after Trickett struggled.
"It was an emergency I thought because I didn't think we had any chance to win it the other way," Fisher said of playing Manuel. "That's why we went with it and had a chance, but it was too little too late."
Tough break for Thompson
Starting running back Chris Thompson went down on the third offensive play of the game and was in obvious pain as we was carted off the field.
X-rays at a local hospital showed that junior from Madison County, Fla. fractured the T5 and T6 vertebrates in his back.
"It's not related to the other (back) injury, but they're not neurological," Fisher said. "Nothing is paralyzing. He'll be in a brace, but he has two compression fractures in the T5 and T6, has a broken back. He'll be staying here for further evaluation for a day or two to stabilize him and see how we're going to move him and what we're going to do."
After missing the entire spring with a back injury Thompson worked all summer to be ready for the season, but will now likely miss the rest of the season with another back injury. He will not need surgery.
"Chris is a wonderful guy," cornerback Greg Reid said after the game. "I'm pretty sure the team, my family, and also me will be praying for him."
First time starters
Due to injuries to Andrew Datko and Vince Williams[/db], Bobby Hart and Telvin Smith made the first starts of their young careers on Saturday.
Hart, who turned just 17 in late August, started at left tackle. His performance was up and own, which is to be expected of a true freshman on the road.
"Bobby is a freshman but he's going to be one of the best guys we have here," Manuel said. "He's a freshman, you can't really get upset at the guy, it's his first start and I'm sure he's nervous and Wake Forest does have some great schemes on defense as far as blitzes, but I think Bobby is a very smart kid. I'm real proud of him, had some mistakes but that's part of it."
Smith, a sophomore, recorded six tackles, one for loss, and a pass breakup filling in for Williams at middle linebacker.
True freshman running James Wilder Jr. scored the first touchdown of his first career in the first quarter on a three-yard run. He finished the game with nine yards on two carries.
Dustin Hopkins extended both of his streaks on Saturday with a 40-yard field goal to make it 15 straight, and his 105th consecutive made PAT.
Rashad Greene caught his sixth touchdown pass of the year in the first half. He is the first Seminole receiver since Peter Warrick to have a touchdown catch in five straight games. He finished the game with a career-high 12 receptions for 163 yards.
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