April 4, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The talk all spring has been about the offense's success against a young and banged up Seminole defense. All that talk seemed to have gotten the attention of Mickey Andrew's group. Thanks to five fumble recoveries, two Jamie Robinson interceptions and a Nigel Bradham touchdown, the Gold squad downed the Garnet team 39-27 in the annual Garnet & Gold game Saturday in Doak Campbell Stadium.
"That was an interesting thing tonight," said head coach Bobby Bowden. "Right off the bat you had two bad snaps, that's not supposed to happen. We had eight fumbles. (Carlton Jones) had five that I counted. Eight fumbles you won't beat anybody.
"Jamie Robinson I thought had a good game back there in secondary. Got an interception, he had two then. I guess the biggest surprise was our secondary. They've been getting ripped pretty good this spring. They were most active tonight I've seen them, that is a good sign. I thought the defense won the battle."
Both of Robinson's interceptions were highlight reel material and he was the star in the secondary but it was Bradham's 45-yard return of a Christian Ponder fumble that turned out to be the biggest play of the night. The five fumbles lost by the offense were a surprise considering that had not been an issue for most of the spring leading up to Saturday.
"It feels good to make a play like that every now and then," said Bradham. "When you do your thing to motivate the team it gives them intensity and encourages them to go out and make plays as well. It felt real good."
"Why were all those dadgum fumbles," said Bowden. "Now of course defense knocked some of those out of there, defense knocked. But I saw some of the kids doing things that they haven't done all spring, which I would think probably a crowd in their pressing, that's what you don't want, but that's why it's good to have that game."
After posting eye-popping yards per play numbers in the previous scrimmages, the defense did an excellent job of limiting the offense on Saturday holding the Garnet team to just five yards per play. Ponder was 10-of-19 for 118 yards, most of which came on a 65-yard strike to Jarmon Fortson early in the scrimmage.
"(Ponder) struggled, not I think some of it was our receivers had a hard time getting open," said Bowden. "They got more pressure on him tonight I think they have all spring. I didn't feel like he was sharp. He was sharp on some passes but I saw other times when a man was open big and he missed him. We had dropped passes at inopportune times. If you're gonna find out those things out, it's good to find them out against yourselves."
"I just need to go back and re-focus, I think I didn't do enough and obviously I think I let some stuff affect me...this is the first game-type environment in a while and so I wasn't ready," said Ponder. "I wasn't ready and these next three days I gotta overcome it and watch the film and learn from those things."
There was only one other offensive touchdown on the evening and that came on a 31-yard strike from Corey Eddinger to Cameron Wade. He and Fortson combined for 106 of the Gold team's 236 total receiving yards. Fortson led the way with four catches for 75 yards while Rod Owens, Bert Reed and Richard Goodman were the only other players with more than one reception.
"I think the one's came out and started off alright, I had a couple good drives and a touchdown," said Ponder. "I mean just the turnovers killed us, and then I think we started letting stuff pile on top of us, and towards the end we got in and over our heads and let stuff affect us a little bit. We got three days to fix it for us this spring, and we'll have to overcome it come August."
The turnovers started early for the offense. On just the third pass of the day Robinson snatched his first interception on a 3rd-and-13 pass intended for Louis Givens. On the next play Ponder went deep to Fortson but on six of the next 27 offensive snaps there was a fumble with the defense falling on five.
"Some of them were on our own, and some of them we just fell on, but they still count," said defensive coordinator Mickey Andres. "I felt like we had a much better effort. We challenged them to play their best when playing in this stadium. Some of them took it to heart. Got a few breaks, but we also made more than we have all spring too. I think there were a couple great interceptions and several fumbles. You got a good chance of winning if you can do that."
"Coach Andrews makes it our goal to make turnovers, and we have been kind of lacking on that throughout this whole spring," said Robinson. "It got brought up in a report that the DB's have had only had one pick this spring, so we just tried to go out there and really focus on causing turnovers a little more and get the defense going."
The other area where Andrews saw a huge improvement was with his run defense. Despite missing Kendrick Stewart, Budd Thacker and Dekoda Watson, the Seminole offense averaged just two yards per rush gaining 59 yards on 29 carries.
"I feel like we played pretty good," said Bradham. "Today was a good day for us. We made a couple stops. We gave up a couple plays, but came right back around and made big plays ourselves. I feel like we were pretty motivated and kind of dominated tonight."
"I think so, I think yeah, I mean they pretty much dominated all night, so it was definitely, I think, their best performance this spring, and I mean they look pretty good," said Ponder of his teammates on the defensive side.
Unlike springs in the past, Saturday night's Garnet & Gold game does not signal the end of practice. The Seminoles are scheduled to practice three more days next week and Seminoles.com will continue to keep you updated on all things FSU.
Head Coach Bobby Bowden
"I didn't think our blocking was crisp, now that might have been your defense causing that because they really played so much better then they have been playing. That's the most active I've seen the secondary all spring. Our receivers couldn't get open. They got open some but they had a hard time getting open; that's a good sign for the defense."
Wide Receiver Jarmon Fortson
Describe the 65 yard touchdown:
"Uh no, it was just a great play by Jimbo. He called a slant first, and they play the slant pretty well, so he called it again. We put a different formation, he called a "pango", which is a slant-and-go, so he bit on it and Ponder made a great throw so, you know what I'm saying, it was a great play by Jimbo."
On the turnovers and mistakes:
"You gotta be more consistent with that, the turnovers slow us down. Iike I said, we got three more practices next week to work on that, and like you said we were doing good all spring, but of course like I said, we gotta be consistent man, you know that's really hurting us right now."
On being labeled a deep ball threat by the coaches:
"You know actually all the guys can be deep ball threats, I'm probably one of the slower guys on the receiver group. So you know, they good, I don't know why they said that, but they great, the receiver group's great, you know everybody can be a deep ball threat."
Quarterback Christian Ponder:
On all of the fumbles, was there something going on with the exchanges?
"I mean it looked like it, you know a couple I guess mixed the exchanges a couple times, guys in the backfield, guys getting exchanges, it all came back to attitude, and I think a lot of us weren't ready to come out and play in like a game type environment."
On Robinson's first pick:
"It was a little high, I think I tried to force it and should've gone outside, he was playing safety. If he came off the hash I probably should've thrown it outside."
On Robinson's nice plays:
"Yeah, defense played well, and we made a lot of mistakes, and you know didn't have the right attitude, right focus, but defense played great and they look really good."
On the young back consistency:
"Yeah, it's tough. It's tough, you know this whole week, I mean yesterday we had a great practice, and everyone, no M.A.'s and everyone looked good and I think we weren't ready for this game-type environment. We didn't have the right focus, the right attitude, and I mean you could tell coming right off the bat during warm-ups, we didn't look very good and so we gotta come back and re-focus and correct those things."
How frustrating is that?:
"Yeah, it's very frustrating, I mean especially with how good we've looked all spring... improved a lot, so it stinks to come out here and not really show where we should be and you know we looked really good and we didn't show it tonight."
Did Jimbo have any words of wisdom:
"Not really, he just said we weren't focused and we didn't have the right attitude and he was correct. He hit it right on the head."
Coach Bowden mentioned that the secondary had been struggling and that this is the most active he has seen the secondary this spring. Did Coach Andrews or you guys said to each other that made you guys feel you had to really show up today?
We really feel that this year that we have to step up and be a big part of the defense. We have experiences players with three seniors and a junior who has had a lot of playing time. The other guys are red-shirt freshman that have had practice time too, so we have really put it on ourselves to be the cornerstone of the defense.
Is it important as a defense as spring practice winds down to go out on a high note like this.
Yes we really take pride in making third down stops and turnovers because that is something Coach Andrews stresses, so that is something we want to work on go towards this fall making sure we reach our goals .
Defensive Coordinator Mickey Andrews
On the scrimmage
"We just played a game for a half, because we felt like we needed to work on some situation stuff at the end, and when you start putting the ball on the plus side it's a little harder to keep them out of the end zone when you do that. What you liked to have seen is how are you going to finish it, how are you going to play those last thirty minutes. The first group played well. We had a bunch of guys on the second team that act like they want to be second teamers, third teamers or fourth teamers, and some of them may be that in the fall when those other freshman get here. We have got a long ways to go with our two's as a group. There are too many freshmen that are playing like freshman. They were not going against the number one offense when they were in there. I was a little disappointed in how they played. They started out good, and set the pace right off that bat, but then we just kind of quit covering our people and quit taking care of our responsibilities. There is a lot of growing up to do with them, but again it was very encouraging, but we still have a long way from where we need to be. We got three more days to work. Each day needs to better than the day before, and if we take that kind of attitude we will have a chance to get better."
"The last two times we have scrimmaged Jamie looked like a safety. He had a couple of very nice tackles, critical plays and showed great range on his interception."
What's one thing you think the defense is getting better at?
"I feel like we are getting more chemistry now as far as everybody from the defensive line to the linebacker's to the secondary. We are starting to play a lot more together, and there is more togetherness on the field, so that is what I feel we are really improving on a lot."
What are you excited to see develop this upcoming season?
"We just want to win every game. We want to play in and win the ACC Championship and hopefully get to the National Championship. Any BCS game would be great for us. We want go out there and win every game we play in."