March 27, 2010
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Four months removed from right shoulder surgery, Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder took all the snaps with the first-team offense in the Seminoles' first full scrimmage of the spring Saturday inside Doak Campbell Stadium.
Ponder completed 6 of 12 attempts for 91 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown pass to tight end Beau Reliford, and reported no discomfort. In fact, he was quite comfortable behind FSU's starting offensive line, which has four starters back this spring and provided more than ample protection. The veteran unit, led by All-American guard Rodney Hudson, center Ryan McMahon and left tackle Andrew Datko, was equally effective opening holes.
The Seminoles six primary ball-carriers - Chris Thompson, Jermaine Thomas, Lonnie Pryor, Tavares Pressley and newcomer Debrale Smiley - combined for 262 yards on 31 carries (8.4 ypc) and three rushing touchdowns. "There was good and some bad things," said first-year coach Jimbo Fisher.
"We will look at the film and make some evaluations, but the enthusiasm was there. We made big hits, and some big plays. It was pretty clean. It was far from perfect."
In two, 12-play series against the second-team defense, Ponder led the starting offense to three scores. Dustin Hopkins converted a 23-yard field goal, while Thomas added a 6-yard touchdown run before Ponder hooked up with Reliford on a perfectly timed strike into the end zone.
"It's been a while and to get back and scrimmage and actually play a little football, it was fun," said Ponder. "We really know what we're doing, having everyone back, and we're only going to get better."
"His arm is getting stronger," Fisher added. "He is starting to get a better feel for the pocket where he is flicking the ball around. He missed a few throws, one in the flats to the fullback. I thought overall he was solid. He didn't do anything bad, but overall he was just okay."
First-year defensive coordinator Mark Stoops' unit had its moments as well. They allowed just one score - a 39-yard touchdown run by Pressley - over 24 plays and improved dramatically from the first to second series. The second-team offense, directed by quarterback Will Secord, managed just 1 yard of total offense on the second 12-play series, thanks in part to the play of rising sophomore defensive end Brandon Jenkins. Jenkins had five stops on the day - all behind the line of scrimmage - including three sacks. Four of those tackles for loss, including two sacks, came on the second series.
"I'm a lot more confident and far more advanced than last year," Jenkins said. "I feel more comfortable and I'm just going out there to try and make plays. I'm a lot more complete, but I'm way far from being the complete player I'd like to be. I just try to get better every day."
Rising sophomore linebacker Vince Williams, who missed all of last season with a back injury, led all defenders with seven tackles working from his weak-side position with the second-team defense. Freshman defensive tackle Demonte McAllister left an impression with 3 ½ tackles, including 1 ½ behind the line of scrimmage. Defensive end Markus White added 3 ½ stops, including a sack, while cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and Greg Reid each added three tackles and a pass break-up while splitting time between the first- and second-team units.
"I thought the defense had their moments; we had our moments on offense," Fisher said. "The defense gave up a few big runs and then all of a sudden shut it down. I thought the defense did a good job. I thought the offense was solid at times, but we've got to get more consistent."
Ponder, Secord and third-team quarterback Clint Trickett spread the wealth through the air as 11 Seminoles recorded pass receptions. Beyond the 72 base plays from scrimmage, the Seminoles also worked situations - third-down, red zone and coming off the goal line - over the course of the two-hour scrimmage. They also dedicated significantly more time to special teams work.
Hopkins was perfect of all three of his field goal attempts and recorded three touchbacks as well. FSU will return to the practice field Monday for the ninth of 15 days on the field this spring, culminating with the April 10 Garnet & Gold spring game, set for 5 p.m.
RECEIVING Bert Reed 2-23 Josh Gehres 2-11 Rodney Smith 3-18 Beau Reliford 1-19, 1 TD Chris Thompson 1-9 Lonnie Pryor 1-13 Jarmon Fortson 1-27 Brian Fixelle 1-5 Timothy Orange 2-18 Cameron Wade 1-5 Jonathan Wallace 1-7
DEFENSIVE LEADERS LB Vince Williams 7 ½ tackles, ½ tfl DE Brandon Jenkins 5 tackles, 5 tfls, 3 sacks DT Demonte McAllister 3 ½ tackles, 1 ½ tfls DE Markus White 3 ½ tackles, 2 tfls, 1 sack CB Xavier Rhodes 3 tackles, 1 pbu CB Greg Reid 3 tackles, 1 PBU