January 1, 2008

Silver coach likes his quarterbacks

ORLANDO, Fla. - Team Silver head coach Jim Hanifan definitely has a plan for Saturday's Under Armour All-Star game. With a stable of receivers that any college coach would drool over, Hanifan has no qualms about giving away his plan of attack.

"We're going to air it out a lot," he said. "We have a heck of a group of wideouts. We have a bunch of really solid and smooth route runners. They are all very fundamentally sound and they have great hands. That's the strength of our team.

"This is an all-star game. In all-star games, you want to showcase your skill guys. Nobody wants to watch two teams bruise it out."

However, Hanifan's eyes light up when he talks about one potential ball carrier on his roster.

Leading his squad will be five-star dual threat quarterback E.J. Manuel, a gifted passer and runner.

"That's another great thing about having a guy at quarterback like E.J. Manuel. It's his God-given ability to tuck the ball and run with it. We're going to let him get his yards any way that he can and that's definitely one of his most effective ways.

"In practice this week, he's shown that he knows when to tuck it and when to throw it. We may not necessarily call draw plays for him, but he always has the option of tucking and running."

In fact, Hanifan expects to see Manuel use his legs so often because he predicts his offensive line will struggle paving lanes for running backs.

"We've only got six offensive linemen total," said Hanifan. "We have a really strong center in Braxton Cave but it's hard to develop linemen in a week. It's hard to do it in four months.

"There's a likely mismatch with our offensive line against their defensive line; we are probably going to struggle with the run anyway. E.J. may not have a choice a lot of the time but to tuck it and take off."

Other than Manuel, there are two other very good passers on the Silver roster. While only 6-foot tall, Clemson commit Kyle Parker is a special player according to Hanifan.

"What I like about Parker is his leadership abilities and his football smarts," he said. "When he comes out of the huddle, he is looking around reading the defense and checking all his receivers on his way to the center.

"He's also the best of the three at checking off of his primary receiver. He's got incredible poise in the pocket and if there's a receiver open, he'll find him."

Hanifan, who has an extensive professional and college coaching background, also had praise for UCLA commit Nick Crissman.

"Crissman is a little bit of a combination of the other two quarterbacks," he said. "He doesn't have quite the natural athletic ability of E.J. and he's not quite the field general that Parker is but he's just good at everything he does. He's a very good all-around quarterback."

With all three of his passers possessing different skill sets, Hanifan is not too worried about having to come up with different game plans for each.

"We talked about that in our coaches' meeting," Hanifan said of the quarterback situation. "Our offensive coordinator, Dave Levy, is going to sit down with all three guys and find out what each is comfortable running. Once they're in the game, we'll run the plays that each is comfortable with."

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