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USF Bulls

FSU's Manuel not at his best but effective

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Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 03:01 PM
TAMPA -

Occasionally, you can stop Florida State senior quarterback EJ Manuel.

But for a 60-minute game? That's a different matter.

The University of South Florida Bulls found that out in Saturday night's 30-17 loss against FSU at Raymond James Stadium.

USF's defense was spirited and relentless. It had two sacks of Manuel. Overall, it crashed into the pocket and made him work.

But Manuel's final numbers — 19 of 26 for 242 yards and one touchdown — were indicative of a season that has FSU realistically hunting a national championship.

Manuel also took time to salute USF quarterback B.J. Daniels.

"He's a great leader,'' Manuel said. "Great person. Great personality and he has a cannon of an arm. Our defense is tough to go up against, but I still think he had a great day.

"I missed some throws, including one to Rodney (Smith) in the end zone. I'm still saying sorry to him, like I owe him some money on that one. It happens, but we still came out and we won the game.''

Manuel is happiest about this number — the No. 4-ranked Seminoles are 5-0.

"EJ made a lot of big pass plays on third down,'' FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. "I wasn't very happy in the red zone. We settled for some field goals down there. We should've had touchdowns.''

USF's defense had something to do with that.

"We knew they were going to try and make their season right here and get back into it and play hard,'' Fisher said. "They did that and our kids fought through it.

"We hit a lot of big plays. We just didn't convert in the red zone.''

Overall, Fisher said he will take a 13-point victory on the road, particularly when he felt the Seminoles didn't play a great game.

"That's what I'm happy about,'' Fisher said. "Listen, wins are big. You go into somebody else's house who have good players, are coached well and you come out with a W. That's a huge step coming off a big win we had last week (against Clemson).

"In the past, I think we might have folded a little bit. Our kids kept believing and you've got to find ways to keep winning those games when you're not playing your 'A' game. That's what good football teams do.''


jjohnston@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7353

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