April 10, 2010
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Seminole Nation has been eager to see the new-look Florida State football team.
Saturday, they finally got that chance.
Over 50,000 garnet-and-gold clad fans packed Doak Campbell Stadium for Jimbo Fisher’s first spring game as FSU’s head coach. What they saw was a 29-17 final score in favor of the Gold team — but it was the program as a whole that came away with the victory.
The revamped Garnet & Gold game, which was played similar to a traditional ballgame rather than a scrimmage like years past, not only capped off a fun-filled day fan-friendly events and a variety of on-campus sports, it also allowed Fisher, his new coaching staff and players the chance to show just how much work they have put in since the ‘Noles Gator Bowl victory over West Virginia in December.
That work resulted in a back-and-forth, well-played game in which Heisman-hopeful quarterback Christian Ponder made his triumphant return after sustaining a shoulder injury against Clemson last fall.
Ponder, who was named the offense’s most valuable player for the spring, finished the day 16-of-34 for 266 yards, two touchdown passes and one rushing score in command of the Gold team.
Freshman signal-callers Clint Trickett and E.J. Manuel is still recuperating from an injury. Secord finished the day 12-of-23 for 115 yards and Trickett completed four of his nine pass attempts for 95 yards and one touchdown.
Sophomore wide receiver Rodney Smith showed glimpses of his incredible potential with three catches for 124 yards and one touchdown for the Gold team. Veteran leader Bert Reed’s 163 yards and one score on 10 grabs was good enough to guide the Garnet.
Junior-college transfer Debrale Smiley led all Seminole rushers with 58 yards on three carries. His Gold-squad teammate, sophomore Chris Thompson, had 55 yards and one touchdown on 10 carries. As for the Garnet team, senior Tavares Pressley accrued 40 yards on three totes and junior Ty Jones ran with the ball four times for 24 yards.
The Gold team registered 399 total yards (295 passing and 104 rushing) and the Garnet edition totaled 246 yards (210 passing and 36 rushing).
“It was fun to play against my teammates today,” Reed said. “It was a great feeling having 50,000 people come see you play and how you have progressed. It was just fun to compete against my teammates. That’s what made it fun for me.”
As for the defense, sophomore defensive end Brandon Jenkins had a day’s-best three sacks and six tackles for the Gold while redshirt sophomore Vince Williams bounced back after missing all of 2009 with a back injury to add six tackles of his own for the same team. Junior Nigel Carr also had six tackles for the Gold.
“I thought the defense did a real good job in the second half controlling the line of scrimmage,” Fisher said.
Added Bradham: “We had some sacks … we gave up a couple of big plays. We did good with the deep ball. We will get the little things corrected, though, and we’ll be a great defense.”
Thompson scored the first touchdown of the day on a one-yard plunge up the middle. The Gold scoring play was set up by a 48 rumble of a run by Smiley.
Like his running back counterpart, Jones was able to achieve a one-yard touchdown on the Garnet team’s next possession.
Junior Jarmon Fortson then grabbed a five-yard touchdown a few minutes later to make it a 14-7 game in favor of the Gold team.
The Garnet squad then got a few of those points back with sophomore Dustin Hopkins’ 45-yard field goal before the close of the first half.
After a halftime break that saw a host of Seminole legends compete in a spirited game of flag football, both teams came back onto the field and traded Powell punts multiple times in a scoreless third quarter.
Highly-touted true freshman linebacker Jeff Luc caused a fumble and then recovered it on the Gold team’s seven yard-line at the start of the final quarter. The stout defensive play was followed by back-to-back runs from Smiley and junior Jermaine Thomas.
Ponder then sprinted to the left side and just over the goal line for a three-yard touchdown that put the Gold unit on top 20-10. Kicker Alex Jones’ extra point attempt was then blocked.
The Gold team’s 10-point advantage was short lived, though. On the very first play of their ensuing drive, Trickett executed a perfect bootleg and found Reed for a 70-yard pass-and-catch score.
Jenkins’ sack of Trickett in the endzone was then good enough for a safety as the score moved to 22-17.
Ponder then found Smith for a 20-yard touchdown reception that extended the lead to 29-17.
“I think today was great for not only the players to see the support and everyone wanting to watch them play but I think it was good for the fans, too,” Fisher said. “Getting back here and enjoying yourself in a spring weekend and getting to see a lot of friends and family and tailgate and have fun and remember why you enjoy Florida State, why you came here and why they love it.