Every week during the course of the season, the staffs of Noles247 and the Osceola will take a look at the top 10 players on Florida State's roster. This list looks at the previous week's performance, but also takes into account a player's body of work over the course the season and their significance to the team's success.
After a career night against Clemson, FSU QB EJ Manuel is suddenly in the Heisman discussion.
1. QB EJ Manuel: If there were any doubt surrounding Manuel’s worth to this team, it was surely erased last Saturday night in FSU’s come from behind win over the Clemson Tigers. Manuel displayed prominent leadership all night long, never buckling under pressure on his way to a career night that included 380 yards through the air, two touchdown passes and 102 yards on the ground.
Suddenly, Manuel finds himself in the Heisman race after last week's performance.
2. DE Bjoern Werner: It was imperative that FSU’s defensive front pressured Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd often on Saturday night, and that’s exactly what it did, led by Werner. Werner might not have had any sacks, but he showed why we constantly decide to put him so high in our rankings.
He had batted passes, he was milliseconds away from a few sacks or swatted balls out of Boyd’s hands and he did an excellent job containing the Tigers’ run game by shedding blocks and making a strong lateral pursuit.
Werner still ranks first in the nation in sacks with 6.5.
3. RB Chris Thompson: Thompson continues to be one of the feel-good stories in college football. After rushing for over 100 yards for the second-consecutive week, the FSU senior running back now has to average just 64 yards per game in order to become the school’s first tailback to amount 1000 yards on the ground since Warrick Dunn accomplished the feat in 1996.
4. CB Xavier Rhodes: Prior to the season, Rhodes said his goal was to be known as the best cornerback in all of college football. While it’s still too early to give that award to Rhodes, the Miami native continued to prove he belongs in the elite discussion with another strong performance on Saturday against Clemson.
The Tigers did everything they could to stay away from Rhodes – a testament to the corner’s reputation at this point in his career. However, he did still manage to have three unassisted tackles and an impressive pass breakup in the second half.
Lamarcus Joyner broke free for FSU's first big kickoff return of 2012 against Clemson.
5. S/KR Lamarcus Joyner: Much like the case with Rhodes, Clemson avoided going at Joyner at all costs last weekend. However, Joyner still found a way to make a significant impact on the outcome of the game – on special teams.
After slowly gaining the momentum back on its side, FSU was searching for a spark to give it one more push to completely back in its favor. And Joyner provided that spark, sprinting down the sidelines for a 90 yard kick return all the way down to the Clemson 10 yard-line.
6. DE Cornellius Carradine: FSU had two sacks on Boyd last Saturday – both of which came at the hands of Carradine. And not only did he account for each of them, but he racked them up on back-to-back plays – a huge momentum swing for FSU early on.
Carradine has stepped up and into the starting role nicely for the Seminoles and will be key in containing another mobile threat in B.J. Daniels this weekend. Carradine currently ranks fourth in the nation with 5.5 sacks.
7. LT Cameron Erving: Though the defensive front of Clemson may not have consisted of a group of world-beaters, last Saturday night was still the biggest test of Erving’s young career at left tackle. In light of a high powered Clemson offense, FSU needed Manuel and the offense to be productive.
They were, and Erving protected Manuel well all night.
8. RB James Wilder: Some might call it “grown man football”. That’s the only way Wilder knows how to play, dating back to his early years. And FSU fans are loving watching him do so in Garnet and Gold.
Wilder had 65 yards on nine carries against Clemson and rang in two big touchdowns to top his stat sheet off. His hard work and physical style of play is making him quickly become one of the fan base’s favorites.
9. PR/WR Rashad Greene: Greene falls a little bit this week simply due to his muffed punt – one that could have proved to be extremely costly for FSU last weekend. However, Greene continues to be an essential component of the Seminoles’ offense, hauling in four catches for 36 yards and a touchdown.
10. LB Christian Jones: Some are getting on Jones for what they consider to be a weak performance on the linebacker’s part, but in reality, Jones had a very solid outing against Clemson.
Not only did he total seven tackles on the evening, but he also had one of the biggest pass breakups of the night – in one-on-one coverage against none-other than Sammy Watkins.
He might not be constantly making the flashy plays, but much like Joyner and Rhodes, teams tend to avoid Jones if at all possible.