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E.J. Manuel sizes up Florida State ahead of 2020 season

Former Florida State quarterback and ACC Network analyst E.J. Manuel is cautiously optimistic that the Seminoles will field a formidable team this season during Mike Norvell’s first campaign, who has an opportunity to impress at a program in transition. Florida State is close, Manuel says, at contending for championships.

“They have the weapons,” Manuel said Friday during an appearance on ACC Network’s Packer and Durham. “They’ve had the weapons awhile now, but it’s a matter of bringing it all together. Again, these guys have to play team football. From what I saw as a fan once I left Florida State, it didn’t seem like they had the same camaraderie from when I was there.

“It seemed like some guys were almost trying to do a little too much and some guys weren’t doing enough. If they can collectively bring it all altogether, Norvell will kind of be the glue they need in that program to get these guys to play to their full potential.”

For Norvell, building relationships with his players is top priority toward future success, Manuel says.

“The biggest thing is you want to show they can trust you,” Manuel said. “A lot of times when coaches come in, it’s the trust factor. They’ve got to put their name down with you as a player. If you go out in practice and you’re inconsistent or you’re showing some of the same things we’ve seen the past few years — illegal procedures and not knowing where to line up — that’s going to hurt you.

“But if you can go out there Day 1 and show coach Norvell and staff they can trust you … again, these guys want to win. I always say the best way to get drafted high in the NFL is go to a team that’s a winner. Hopefully they understand that and I think they’ll get it done.”

Earlier this year, Wilson took a public stand and said his teammates refused to work out until Norvell cleared up comments that he had spoken to players individually about public protests and the fight against inequality. Manuel believes what followed after was a momentum-building moment for the program.

“Big shout to Marvin for even speaking up on that,” Manuel said. “I don’t think he was putting the coahc on blast, but we all need to be held accountable. At the end of teh day, that’s how unification happens. I think it’s going to create a situation where everybody has bought in. I think that was actually something that was positive for that program more than something that was negative.”

Manuel was later asked about Florida State’s 2020 opener vs. West Virginia and the early road trip to Boise State, a team projected to be one of the Group of 5’s best this fall.

“Seminoles fans will be there in attendance and I think Florida State should have a good chance against those guys,” Manuel said. “I think they need to go out there and use that as a statement game across the country and play on that blue turf and play good football. As long as they don’t shoot themselves in the foot with pre-snap penalties, blocks in the back and things like that, I think they’ll be fine.”

The million-dollar question? Can Florida State compete with multi-time defending ACC champion Clemson in the Atlantic Division.

“They have to show me the first couple weeks of the season if they’re really in that group,” Manuel said. “Clemson has been consistent for the past seven years in the ACC. I know they’re fully-loaded.”

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