April 3, 2010
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A virtually empty Doak Campbell Stadium served as the stage for big performances by cornerback Greg Reid and quarterback Christian Ponder as the Florida State football team held its second scrimmage of the spring Saturday.
Reid intercepted four passes on the day, including a 35-yard touchdown return, that capped a productive day for an improving defensive unit. Ponder, still on the mend from November shoulder surgery, completed 7 of 11 pass attempts for 188 yards and directed the first-team offense to a field goal and a touchdown in two series.
Duplicating those performances next week, in front of what many hope will be a record crowd of 50,000 or more for FSU’s spring game, will only serve to fuel the growing enthusiasm for coach Jimbo Fisher’s inaugural season.
“It was an improvement on last week,” Ponder said of the scrimmage. “I think we definitely improved.”
Fisher concurred, though he still sees plenty room for improvement before the Seminoles hit the field inside the stadium next week.
“I thought the defense made a lot of improvements today,” Fisher said. “I saw a pass rush, some pressure, making plays in space. Greg Reid had a phenomenal day making plays in the secondary…
“Offensively, I thought we had some holes and things that hurt some drive. We overcame them.”
Scoring was sparse over a stretch of six series of straight-up scrimmaging. Quarterback Will Secord led the unit on a seven-play scoring drive which included a 13-yard pass to Jarmon Fortson and a 20-yard gain by A.J. Alexander, culminating with Alex Jones’ 44-yard field goal against the first-team defense.
Ponder and the first-team offense countered with an 11-play drive, leading to Dustin Hopkins’ 26-yard field goal as the second-team defense. He completed 3 of 5 passes for 54 yards, including a 35-yard pass to Willie Haulstead, as the unit overcame a pair of holding penalties and a sack.
Reid’s 35-yard interception return for a score came on the first snap of the second series against the second-team offense. The rising sophomore jumped an out-route pass from Clint Trickett and raced untouched into the end zone. Later on the same possession, Reid took a Secord pass away from Haulstead for his second theft.
“His instincts are incredible,” Ponder said of Reid. “He goes and makes plays and he loves the game of the football… He’s everything you want in a football player.”
The lone offensive touchdown by the first-team offense was set up by a 34-yard pass play from Ponder to Lonnie Pryor and a 27-yard run by Ty Jones. Tailback Christ Thompson finished it off with a 1-yard run behind center Ryan McMahon and right guard David Spurlock. Two Ponder to Bert Reed passes, totaling 94 yards, were for naught when Hopkins was wide left on his 48-yard field goal attempt.
The Seminoles will practice two more times this week – Monday and Wednesday afternoon – before the April 10 Spring Game, which will pit the Garnet & Gold teams, which will be determined later in the week when the seniors draft players.
Second Scrimmage Statistical Highlights
Rushing: Debrale Smiley 4-25, Brian Fixelle 6-17.
Head Coach Jimbo Fisher
On today’s scrimmage
“On the defensive side, I noticed Nigel Bradham making plays out there. He made two or three great plays today that I haven’t seen him do a while. I thought their (defense) progress was good. Offensively I thought we had some holes, a few things that hurt some drives, but we overcame them. We still have a lot of work to do at wideout.”
Talk about Greg Reid’s performance today?
“He broke on one or two. One we threw in a hard corner which was just a gift. It was bigger than a Christmas gift. However, he made the play and that is what he supposed to do. Fortson miss-timed one in the end zone, but Greg made the play, and a few others he fought hard for. I think he made around four picks today. He is playing very good, solid football.”
Which running backs are standing out?
“Lonnie Pryor, consistently day in and day out in everything he does … is a really good football player. There is no doubt, head and shoulders right now, he is the best pure football player. I think Chris Thompson did some things, I saw (Jermaine Thomas) do some things. I saw (Ty Jones) make a couple runs. … Lonnie is Mr. Consistent, day in and day out.”
How about Christian Ponder’s progress?
“Solid day, but it is hard to function when you have knuckleheads out there running routes. We also wanted to keep trying to run and do some things, but he led us on a nice two minute drive. He hit two or three big plays. Hit a nice post to Bert Reed for about 40 or 50 yards. Underneath he was okay, he is still not his normal self, but it was another solid day.”
Quarterback Christian Ponder
Do you feel your game is starting to come back?
“Yeah it is coming back. I think a lot of it is going back, watching film and seeing my mechanics. My mechanics changed up a little bit. I started to drop the ball down, and I wasn’t looking good, so I started working on that at practice. I tried to change it, and there are still some things I missed a little bit – a couple throws I missed – but overall today was pretty good.”
Did you see that or did Jimbo point out the mechanics to you?
“No I saw it. He noticed it too. I asked him if have been doing this whole time (since surgery). He said yeah, and it is something we have got to work on. So we worked on it. He came up and made sure I was doing it right.”
Looked like Bert Reed had a good day?
“Yeah he had a very good day. I missed a deep post throw to him. I think it could have been pass interference, but they didn’t call it. Overall he is doing well. The thing I am proud of is he is starting to become a leader. He is starting to become dependable and know what he is doing. That’s exciting. He is a guy that is quick, has great speed, and can be a great weapon for us. I am happy that he is becoming dependable, becoming disciplined in what he is doing, and he is getting better.”
Jimbo said the offense is still not quite as sharp as you guys want it to be. What are your thoughts?
“You know we had way too many turnovers today. I think we had five or six, which wasn’t good. We got down in the red zone a couple times and couldn’t punch it in. We made mistakes that we shouldn’t have. There was a few holding calls. … I don’t know if they were, but they called them. It’s just the small things. It goes back to discipline, details and just knowing what we are supposed to do.”
Cornerback Greg Reid
Jimbo said the defense had a big day. How did you feel?
“We had some mistakes. We were not perfect. Coach Fisher can say we were good, but Coach Stoops knows we didn’t do everything we are supposed to be doing. He knows what we are supposed to do at every position, every step, every moment, so I think it was just an okay practice.”
Talk about making the big play. You’re a guy who just makes his name of the big play.
“I am just doing my thing. My defensive line and linebackers are the one’s starting it off and I am just finishing it. That is what I do and just how I play football.”
Was it a good sign for you guys overall to play better this week. Other guys were making plays too. That is the hallmark of a Florida State defense.
“Yeah we just have to get better every practice. Come out here and do what we do. We have been coached up all week, and this is what this scrimmage is for.”
Are things slowing down for you?
“From last year things are slowing down a lot. I can make plays, jump on anything. Just by me knowing where the linebackers are lining up and by where the safety is behind me is helping a lot.”