Sept. 22, 2010
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Winning with consistency is the next challenge in front of Jimbo Fisher’s Florida State football team and there may be no better team to provide the Seminoles with added inspiration than Wake Forest.
The Demon Deacons have won consecutive games at Doak Campbell Stadium (2006 and 2008); a feat only one other Atlantic Coast Conference team (Miami in ’07 and ’09) can claim in Florida State’s 18-year conference membership. And the Seminoles have no intention of allowing Jim Grobe’s team to become the first to make it three in a row on their home field.
While the Seminoles snapped Wake Forest’s three-game winning streak last season in Winston-Salem, N.C. behind EJ Manuel, they still have much to prove when it comes to performing at a consistently high level. Last week’s commanding 34-10 victory over Brigham Young provides the `Noles with the opportunity to reverse their recent trend of following significant wins with disappointing defeats.
“You’re going to find out on Saturday,” Fisher said, when asked if his team has made strides toward developing that consistent effort. “That’s the one thing that we haven’t done around here, is sustain (consistency). You’ve got to know how to win, learn how to win and expect to win. That’s why this program is still growing, because we have not won at a high, high level like those types of mentality teams do. I’m not saying we don’t have that mentality. I’m anxious to see how our kids take the challenge. That’s the goal and the step we have to aspire.”
In a match-up of 2-1 teams who have shown the ability to put up gaudy offensive statistics, the Seminoles are anxious to show they’ve made progress in that area, especially on their home turf.
“My true freshman year they came here and kind of embarrassed us,” said redshirt sophomore EJ Manuel, who delivered last season’s streak-busting victory in his first career start for injured quarterback Christian Ponder. “Going back there and beating them like we did kind of left a good taste in my mouth. We plan on protecting our house this weekend as well. We’re strong in the fact that we definitely don’t want to lose at home.”
Manuel said he will be ready if called upon, should Ponder’s bruised right tricep prevent him from going the distance. He has taken the lion’s share of snaps with the first-team offense this week.
Fisher, however, doesn’t question Ponder’s toughness and expects the senior to be ready for the Demon Deacons.
“When you’re a quarterback you don’t give up your command; you don’t give up your post,” Fisher said. “That’s why revere Brett Favre so much; why we revere Peyton Manning. You don’t give up because you’re banged and bruised, because you’re the leader. You don’t ever give up. It’s not in your nature.
“[Ponder] wouldn’t tell you if he’s hurt anyway. You’ve got to find out when the guy is dead. He’s had things, from cracked ribs, to … I’m the last one he tells or finds out.”
Make no mistake, Ponder wants another crack at the Demon Deacons after missing his chance last season on the road due to injury. He struggled through his worst performance as a starter in 2009 – his first against a Football Bowl Subdivision team – when Wake Forest posted a 12-3 victory at Doak.
Fisher said that after a few days of light work, he expects Ponder on the practice field Thursday:
“‘He’ll probably be flying around, probably full go, if you give him enough rest. He’s got plenty of days to get ready. He knows what he’s doing.”
As for Wednesday’s practice Fisher was more happy with the performance he saw from the offense, which may well need to be running on all cylinders against a Wake Forest team that is averaging 43.7 points per game despite suffering a 68-24 road loss at No. 19 Stanford.
“You just try to hold them down on your end and try to make sure you score on yours,” Fisher said. “They’re a good team. … Just like I told our kids today, `Two weeks ago, you had a bad outing. That’s not you.’ They’ll do the same thing this week. They’ll come in full bore, ready to play and competing. That’s the way coach (Jim) Grobe is and that’s the way that team always is. We know we’re going to get their A-game. You can bank on that.”
Noteworthy: Sophomore long snapper Dax Dellenbach will handle both the placement and punt snaps for the first time this season Saturday. Dellenbach had been handling the placement snaps, with Chris Revell snapping for punts, until suffering a fractured right wrist against BYU. “We’ve got three guys that can snap the ball,” said Fisher, adding the Philip Doumar is also a capable option. “We are very blessed to have that luxury, because that’s a scare when that happens, that’s for sure.” Redshirt freshman Henry Orelus has turned in a strong week of work and will make his second consecutive start at left tackle for junior Andrew Datko, who is out indefinitely with a shoulder injury. Saturday’s game will be televised on ABC, but can also be accessed live through ESPN3.com at the following link: http://espn.go.com/espn3/index?id=35582