EJ Manuel ailing; Clint Trickett to start?

Updated: September 24, 2011, 4:28 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Clint Trickett will possibly make his first start for 11th-ranked Florida State on Saturday while star quarterback EJ Manuel nurses an injured shoulder.

A redshirt freshman, Trickett took all the practice snaps this week as the Seminoles (2-1) prepare for their Atlantic Coast Conference opener and first road test of the season against No. 21 Clemson.

He would be making his inaugural collegiate start in a less-than-friendly atmosphere at Clemson's so-called "Death Valley" stadium where Florida State hasn't won in a decade. The deafening 81,000-seat venue is sold out for Saturday's game to make it even more difficult for Trickett and the Seminole offense to hear.

"It will be loud," Trickett said during a midweek sit down with media that cover the team. "I've heard they get louder for Florida State so I'm excited for it."

Trickett, who is not the most mobile of quarterbacks, figures Clemson will be after him from the start -- especially since Oklahoma sacked him five times in a little more than a quarter after Manuel's injury in last week's 23-13 loss to the top-ranked Sooners.

"They blitzed every play," said the 20-year-old Trickett, who expects to see a lot of blitzing by Clemson (3-0) too.

"If I was a defensive coordinator and there was a freshman quarterback in there, I'd do it too," said Trickett, the soft-spoken youngest son of Seminoles' offensive line coach Rick Trickett. "I've got to be ready for it."

Trickett has played in all three Florida State games this season, completing 14 of 23 passes for 310 yards. His only interception came on a tipped pass against Oklahoma while all four of his touchdown passes have gone to freshman Rashad Greene.

Greene "makes the big plays all the time," Trickett said. "Makes me look good."

Meanwhile, Kenny Shaw is one of FSU's receivers on the questionable list, but coach Jimbo Fisher said after Thursday's practice that the sophomore will play if there is no sign of a relapse of concussion symptoms he suffered last week from a vicious hit in the Oklahoma game that required a trip to the hospital. Shaw did practice this week.

Senior wide receiver Bert Reed is battling an ankle injury. His status will be determined at game time.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney doesn't care what the injury report says -- he expects Manuel under center when the teams hit the field. Manuel has thrown for 666 yards and six touchdowns. He also has 79 yards rushing to lead Florida State.

Florida State's staff isn't so sure Manuel will be healthy enough to play. Fisher twice had similar injuries during his playing days and understands how painful they can be.

"But they are tolerable and you can manage through those," Fisher said. "You've just got to make sure it doesn't affect your throwing motion."

An MRI showed no structural damage to Manuel's shoulder.

The Tigers have injury concerns, too. Starting tailback Andre Ellington hurt his hamstring in beating Auburn, but Swinney says he'll play.

The last time Trickett set foot on Clemson's campus was his sophomore season in high school. He visited the school when Tommy Bowden was still coaching Clemson.

Trickett returns a bit bigger than four years ago, generously listed at 6-2 and 180 pounds in Florida State's media guide. And while the height part appears close, Trickett's slight physique belies the poundage claim. A bit small compared to the 6-5, 240-pound Manuel.

But if he gets the job done against the unbeaten Tigers, Trickett will join several former backup quarterbacks who successfully pinch-hit for an injured Seminole starter.

Marcus Outzen is remembered for helping the Seminoles get to the 1998 national championship game when he led to Seminoles to victories over Wake Forest and Florida after stepping in for Chris Weinke, who was out with a season-ending neck injury.

Danny Kanell did the same for the 1993 national championship team with a five-touchdown passing performance at Maryland where he filled in for Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward, who sat out the game with bruised ribs. Kanell, of course, went on to stardom in his own right the following two seasons.

And Manuel too, who was 4-2 as a starter in place of oft-injured Christian Ponder.

And there were several others, including some who eventually became starters later in their careers.

Dating back to 1985, Florida State has won 15 of 16 games with a quarterback making his first start. Trickett is shooting to make it 16 of 17.

"I just try and make sure they know that I'm not rattled so they can have more confidence in me," Trickett said. "You can't let the moment get the best of you. You've got to handle it."

And his coaches and teammates are confident he will.

"There may be things he (Trickett) does differently than EJ in terms of what he likes and doesn't like," Fisher said. "But he knows all of what's going on."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.