Aug. 21, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Feted at Friday’s annual Kickoff Luncheon, the Florida State football team spent the evening dodging rain-drops in a spirited, 2 1/2-hour evening practice in shells.
From the opening whistle to Dionte Allen’s diving, practice-ending interception, defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews’ unit provided plenty of highlights after several practice performances that drew his ire.
“We’re on the trail,” Andrews said.
As has been the case throughout the preseason practice, which culminates with Saturday’s scrimmages, the Seminoles spent the first half of practice working within their position segments before getting down to team work.
The intensity was high as the team went to work down close the goal line in a 1-on-1 drill between wide receivers and cornerbacks. Freshman corner Greg Reid set the tone by with an early interception while defending Rod Owens on a pass from Christian Ponder. Reid had a second break-up of an EJ Manuel pass, while corners A.J. Alexander and Patrick Robinson also batted away balls.
The offense had its moments as well, with Manuel hooking up with Taiwan Easterling on a well-run route and a precisely-placed pass. Third-team quarterback Will Secord also connected with Cameron Wade and Josh Gehres on scoring passes before Ponder capped the session with two scores – a well-thrown strike to Rodney Smith over Reid in the back of the end zone, and a bullet to Richard Goodman.
The defense later registered three sacks in a 12-play series of 11-on-11, third-down work, as the offense managed just one first down on a Ponder-to-Goodman hook-up for 13 yards. In a similar down-and-distance drill, Goodman went up high to snare a 25-yard pass from Ponder, and tailback Ty Jones broke off a long run.
Practice concluded with FSU working its 1-minute offense, which produced just one first down – a 49-yard Ponder-to-Goodman pass – as the defense applied ample pressure. Allen’s practice-ending theft brought things to a close.
Captains announced at banquet
As has been the case throughout Bobby Bowden’s 34 seasons, the annual Kickoff Luncheon, sponsored by the Florida State Alumni Association, concluded with the announcement of the team three team captains as selected by the coaching staff.
“We just decided to pick the best man, whatever (class) he was,” Bowden said of the decision to select Ponder, a rare nod to an underclassman. “There’s no doubt about it, if there’s a leader on that offensive team, it’s Ponder.”
Like Ponder, Bowden said the selection of Watson to lead the defense, was a “no-brainer.”
“He’s really shown leadership,” Bowden said of Watson. “That quality has been in him. We think he’s the perfect man for the job.”
Wright’s selection may have caught some by surprise, but the senior has been heavily involved in all of FSU’s specialty units since his freshman year.
“I knew that would be a surprise,” Bowden added. “(Wright’s) name popped up as guy who has been doing a good job and would probably provide the leadership that we need, and that’s the reason.”
Christian Ponder, junior quarterback:
“I was definitely surprised. Our team chaplin (Clint Purvis) had hinted at it before, but I had no idea what he was talking about. When they announced me I wasn’t even sure he called my name, even after I stood up. … I think (the fans at his table) were pretty surprised, too.”
“It’s definitely surprising and I’m definitely honored.”
Dekoda Watson, senior linebacker:
“It was even a better surprise, not only for myself, but my mom and my dad were sitting there and I think it was more special to them than it was for me. They’ve been supporting me ever since I’ve been at Florida State. They have not missed one game. They will be in Utah (for BYU). They’ve been to California and Colorado. It’s more for my parents than it was myself.”
Recardo Wright, senior linebacker:
“I was shocked. Nothing’s ever expected.”
“(Playing special teams) is all I’ve been doing since I’ve been here. My freshman year when I came in I was supposed to redshirt. … I went into coach (Jody) Allen’s office and said, ‘I really want to play special teams.’ That’s the way I wanted to get out on the field. Right now I’m on every team. I know every position on every special team (unit).”
“It’s just fun being on the field. I don’t care what I’m doing on the field – special teams, defense, offense – whatever it is, I just wanted to be on the field. I think the coaches figured that out from very early on.”
“That’s what I’m trying to get across to these guys, especially the freshmen, that (special teams) are very important.”