As Florida State prepares to open the Mike Norvell era Saturday against Georgia Tech, one prominent alumnus is keeping expectations in check.
“I think a winning record would be excellent for him,” former Seminoles quarterback EJ Manuel said Wednesday.
In a normal season, Manuel — now an analyst with the ACC Network — said bowl eligibility would be a realistic goal for the 'Noles. But no one knows what the bowls will look like, which complicates that normal baseline goal.
Regardless, Manuel said it’s important to remember the circumstances Norvell has had to deal with because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“As an alum there, I’m not going to put a ton of pressure on him just because I think it’s unfair to look into the situation of what he’s come into,” said Manuel, whose 7,736 career passing yards rank fourth in FSU history. “He didn’t get a full spring. Obviously you’ve got a stagnated summer camp, fall camp, coming into the year with COVID, and then of course the off-the-field stuff that blew up on Twitter.”
Put it all together, and Manuel doesn’t envision FSU challenging Clemson or Notre Dame for one of the top spots in the ACC this fall. Instead, Manuel expects to see FSU’s defense play well, the offense to make strides and the program to look more organized than it did under Willie Taggart.
“I do know that Coach Norvell is a guy that’s going to have his team ready to go,” Manuel said. “I think he’s a man of integrity. He’s a man of doing things the right way. That’s what I’m expecting to see —less pre-snap penalties, less bone-headed mistakes that they made in the years past. I think he’ll have that stuff ironed out coming into this season.”