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After excelling in a reserve role his first two seasons at Florida State, quarterback EJ Manuel didn't quite live up to lofty (and perhaps unreasonable) expectations in his first full season as a starter.
On paper Manuel had a decent redshirt junior season, but there were plenty of times when he was too slow with his down field progressions, or he failed to throw the ball away taking unnecessary lost yardage.
When the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Virginia Beach, Va. native did throw the ball a season ago, he was very accurate. He completed 203 of 311 pass attempts for 2,666 yards, 18 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. Manuel's completion percentage of 65.3% was he highest total for a starting FSU QB since Christian Ponder completed 68.8% of his passes in nine games in 2009. In 2010 Manuel completed 69.9% of his passes, but attempted just 93 passes in 10 games.
With another high completion percentage in 2012 Manuel could finish his career as one of the most accurate passers in FSU history. Charlie Ward is the current record holder with a career completion percentage of 62.3%. Ponder finished his career with an impressive 61.8%. Manuel currently has a career completion percentage of 66.1%.
Manuel also has a chance to end his career as one of the most efficient FSU signal callers of all time. After a passer efficiency rating of 151.24 last season (good for 18th best in the nation), Manuel now has a career rating of 146.1. Manuel's rating of 151.24 is the highest total for a Seminoles' starter since Chris Rix posted a rating of 156.59 in 2001. Like the completion percentage, the career mark for passer efficiency rating belongs to a Heisman Trophy winner in Chris Weinke, with a career rating of 151.15.
Last season Manuel, along with Clint Trickett (160.83) combined for an overall rating of 153.04, easily the highest passer efficiency rating for FSU in the Jimbo Fisher era. It is the third season in a row that FSU QBs have had an efficiency ration of at least 138.0 or higher.
The Seminoles passed for 3,341 yards in 2011, the second-highest total in the last six seasons. The 25 touchdown passes Manuel and Trickett combined for are the most since FSU scored 26 times through the air in 2003.
FSU has an embarrassment of weapons for Manuel to utilize in the passing game in 2012. The 'Noles return five players who recorded at least 15 receptions a season ago, and that doesn't include tight end Nick O'Leary or wideout Kelvin Benjmain, both of whom had stellar springs.
With an improved offensive line (FSU allowed a school-record 41sacks last season), and hopefully quicker downfield reads by Manuel, the FSU passing game should continue to be the focal point of the offense again in 2012.
Six-year breakdown of FSU passing game
Completion Percentage: 64.5%
Passing yards: 3341
Average per game: 257.0
Overall efficiency: 153.04
Completion Percentage: 63.0%
Passing yards: 2938
Average per game: 209.9
Overall efficiency: 138.5
Completion Percentage: 67.7%
Passing yards: 3534
Average per game: 271.8
Overall efficiency: 141.8
Completion Percentage: 54.5%
Passing yards: 2506
Average per game: 192.8
Overall efficiency: 116.0
Completion Percentage: 54.9%
Passing yards: 3142
Average per game: 241.8
Overall efficiency: 117.92
Completion Percentage: 54.4%
Passing yards: 3039
Average per game: 233.8
Overall efficiency: 119.58
Trends: Turnover margin another plus
Trends: FSU run defense dominating
Trends: Pass rush stays among nation's elite
Trends: FSU run game loses momentum in 2011
Trends: Pass protection historically bad in 2011
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