News out of Jimbo Fisher's press conference this morning was that after what looked to be a pretty violent helmet-to-helmet collision– one that caused a fumble– EJ Manuel is ready to go for next weekend's ACC Championship game.
Head coach Jimbo Fisher said Manuel was fine and would play on Saturday and moments later, Manuel himself echoed those sentiments.
"I'm fine," said Manuel. "I took a hard hit, it's a part of the game. It was a physical game throughout the whole 60 minutes, we got some hits on them, they got some hits on us, so I'll be fine."
There was some confusion in the moments after the game as to where the blow actually landed, some said he was a hit in the ribs and his wind was knocked out, others contended it was a helmet-to-helmet shot.
"My head. Basically like my jaw, so yeah I got hit in the head," said Manuel this morning. When he was asked whether trainers checked for a rib injury or went through a concussion test on the sideline, he responded: "I think they went through something, some preliminary tests and I was able to pass them and go back in there and play. So, whatever test they did do, I don't know for sure, but I passed it so I was able to go back and play."
That last part sounded curious.
Now, it's very possible EJ tripped up semantically and simply meant to say that he didn't know the official name of the test administered him on the sideline. If that's the case, he probably is fine and ready to go on Saturday.
But later in that same answer EJ admitted they would have had to hold him down not for him to return to the game, that he didn't want to go out like that– injured on a brutal hit– in his final game at Doak Campbell Stadium.
My point isn't to delve into whether EJ Manuel actually had a concussion on Saturday night and should have returned to the game. I agree with Corey Clark's point that Fisher would never wittingly play a guy with a concussion.
My point is this, that even if EJ Manuel some how did play when he shouldn't have gone back in, even if he was badly concussed and cannot play next weekend, there is absolutely no reason Jimbo Fisher or EJ Manuel would admit that this early in the week.
Nor should they.
Even last season after Oklahoma nearly tore Manuel's shoulder from its socket and Clint Trickett had to finish the game, Fisher went through the week leading up to Clemson maintaining the appearance that there was a reasonable possiblity Manuel would start– or at the very least play.
He was never going to, he was too injured. But just like it will force Georgia Tech to do, Clemson had to prepare for a broad range of contigencies on defense and couldn't focus or hone in on any one thing. That's because EJ Manuel provides a lot of different playcalling options, his versatility makes him hard to defend.
Just the final few plays of Saturday night's game when Manuel scrambled for a last-second touchdown against UF are enough to give a defensive coordinator fits when he's scheming to stop a balanced offensive attack. It's just one more wrinkle to worry about and prepare for.
Right now EJ Manuel is completely fine and set to go for Saturday. Until he's not.
And he probably will play, I'm not trying to insinuate I have reason to believe otherwise. But even if he wasn't, it's not like they would have told us today anyway.
(The above .gif courtesy of Big Lead Sports)