Use Spring Game To Judge EJ Manuel's Pocket Passing, Nothing More

April 14, 2012; Tallahassee, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles quarterback EJ Manuel throws the ball during the first half of the Florida State spring game at Doak Campbell Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-US PRESSWIRE

Sweeping judgments should not be made about a player based on his performance in a spring game (scrimmage). Particularly not when that player has 24 games under his belt upon which an evaluation can be based.

But it's fine to discuss how a player did in the game and compare it to the past data points on that player. As long as like things are being compared. And with the case of Florida State QB EJ Manuel, I'm not sure that's being done everywhere. Nor is perspective being kept that this was just one of Florida State's three spring scrimmages.

So let me be clear. Criticisms and evaluations here of Manuel's spring game are of his ability to read defenses and use the information to make accurate, timely throws from the pocket. Nothing more. Because pocket passing is what was on display. Manuel is a good quarterback, but he's an average pocket passer. The difference, of course, is mobility: both Manuel's running and the threat of him running. The distinction is important particularly when comparing his spring game to his past real games.

Manuel threw more than 50 passes in the spring game, almost all from the pocket. That's not going to happen in a real game. Ever. It's quite clear that FSU was focused on its passing game from the pocket on Sunday. Jimbo did not seem displeased after, probably because he knows Manuel will be on the move much more during the regular season.

Additionally, reader 'Meehl" chimes in with this:

It's also important to point out that the defense not was scheming to stop EJ's run.
Not only was EJ not running his offense (no designed runs, rarely handing offs to RBs), but it looked like the defense ALSO wasn't playing the kind of defense that teams will have to use against EJ's offense (committing a LB to watching EJ). Unless I'm wrong, the defense was playing a lot of pass coverage and we really saw was that EJ is going to struggle in 3rd and long situations against teams in zone pass coverage who have elite defensive lineman.

So why not have him on the move during the spring game? The other position coaches likely wanted to evaluate how their players pass protected in a normal situation, and not on a rollout where half of the offensive line and potentially the running back have a blocking assignment that is of little consequence.

Additionally, quarterbacks are blown dead when touched by a single hand in the spring game. It's standard policy and it makes sense to avoid injury. Running the quarterback in this situation does not present a realistic look for the defense, nor the offense. How often is EJ Manuel brought down on a run by a single hand? The defender could very well be given credit for a tackle in that situation, think he has done a good job, when in actuality he would be in no position to make a tackle had it been a real game. That's not a good look for the defense, nor the offense.

And it's really not a good look for the fans, some ~40,000 of which (inflated, as the real attendance was likely ~35,000 at peak in the second quarter) showed up to support Florida State. They did not come to see quarterback runs blown dead after thee or four yards due to the one-hand touch rule.

Use Manuel's 24-game career to judge him as a player. His spring game performance should only be used to judge his pocket passing. Because that's all he did.

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