TALLAHASSEE — FSU starting QB EJ Manuel was held out of Thursday's scrimmage with what coach Jimbo Fisher said was a minor ankle sprain sustained late in Wednesday's practice.
"He'd have been out there (Thursday) hobbling and probably would have aggravated the heck out of it," Fisher said. "He'll be fine. It wasn't no sense to push it. It gave us a chance to work some of these other quarterbacks."
Fisher said he believed Manuel, who was unavailable to reporters, would practice today. Manuel injured the ankle when it got caught underneath a teammate during a pass-blocking drill.
"I know EJ's a tough guy," senior RB Chris Thompson said. "There's not much that will keep him off the field."
Last season Manuel played through the second of two injuries, a broken leg, to rally the Seminoles to a victory over Notre Dame in the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando.
Manuel also separated his nonthrowing shoulder and missed parts of three games. FSU lost all three.
In Manuel's absence Thursday, sophomore backup Clint Trickett handled all the first-team snaps, and Fisher got to see more of Jacob Coker, Sean Maguire and Jameis Winston.
On the corner: True freshman Ronald Darby, a candidate at one of the cornerback spots, has caught Fisher's attention. "The thing I see about him is, if he gets beat, well, okay. And he can tell you what he did wrong," Fisher said. "That's rare for young guys."
Darby is battling Nick Waisome at the position.
Injury updates: TE Dan Hicks will be out 3-4 weeks with a cartilage issue in his left knee. … Guard Jacob Fahrenkrug will be out for what Fisher called "a while" with a lower leg injury. He was on crutches.
UF: Lakewood grad impresses at LB
GAINESVILLE — Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said it's early and LB Dante Fowler Jr. is making freshman mistakes, but overall the former Lakewood standout has been impressive in fall camp.
Fowler is showing signs he could earn playing time, Quinn said.
"He plays with a lot of power; he's really strong," Quinn said. "You can see that, where he can set the edge and rush."
Fowler and freshman DL Jonathan Bullard have impressed the coaching staff during fall drills, Quinn said.
TIME TO NARROW: Today's scheduled scrimmage will give the coaching staff another opportunity to see players in gamelike situations. Coach Will Muschamp said he planned to evaluate everything from where the players line up to how well they communicate with each other and understand plays.
Antonya English, Times staff writer
UM: Impact freshman
CORAL GABLES — CB Tracy Howard is a freshman but already a leader with the old-school brash Miami mentality.
In living up to his reputation as the No. 1-rated cornerack last season by ESPN and Rivals.com, Howard wore the first-team black jersey after three practices. Earning that didn't change his approach.
"You have cornerbacks who aren't really technicians, but their confidence level is so high, they play good." Howard said. "If you don't really have confidence, you really shouldn't play corner."
Coach Al Golden said he has never seen a group of freshmen who prepare like this class.
"It means something to them," Golden said. "They compete every day. They're not disrespectful. … They compete in their preparation and compete in their film study."
South Florida Sun Sentinel
UCF: Tight end twists
ORLANDO — Because Knights coach George O'Leary wasn't pleased with the production of the tight ends during spring practice, OL Chris Martin (6 feet 5, 284 pounds) was converted into a blocking tight end.
But sophomore Justin Tukes has shown marked improvement and appears to be the favorite to win the job after Martin missed several days with a minor injury. "Tukes is what you want," O'Leary said. "He's putting competition at the position."
Fan fest: The last open practice is Saturday's scrimmage at 2:30 p.m., which will be followed by a fanfest at 5 at Bright House Networks Stadium. Parking and admission is free to both events.