Ponder will play Saturday

Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder put the rumors of him not playing Saturday to bed during Monday's press conference in Tallahassee.

In the first quarter of Florida State's win over N.C. State Saturday, a hit in Ponder's back left him with a couple of bruised ribs. He finished the game, leading the Seminoles to a 45-42 win over the Wolfpack.

"It's something I can overcome- it will be alright. It's football. It's a contact sport. It's alright," he said.

Ponder planned to go full speed at practice on Monday, unless pain dictated otherwise. If that's the case, he'll be spending more time in the film room.

Even if Ponder is slowed in practice, the chances of him not playing on Saturday are "slim and none."

Currently ranked fifth nationally in passing yards this year with 2,453, he's thrown 13 touchdowns, just three interceptions and completed nearly 70 percent of his passes. Florida State offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher said there are two "common denominators" found in the best quarterbacks.

"Of all your great quarterbacks that have played, it is toughness and competiveness," Fisher said. "Those two qualities are in every guy, whether he has a strong arm/weak arm, could run/couldn't run, whether he was a pocket guy or an out of pocket guy--the guys that have had success, those are the two qualities. He has those."

Two days after suffering the injury, Ponder admitted that his ribs were a little sore, but added it wasn't as bad as he imagined.

Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele recruited Ponder to Florida State while serving as the as executive head coach and linebackers coach under Coach Bobby Bowden.

Steele believes Ponder's arm strength suits that of an NFL quarterback and said his speed is similar to an option quarterback from two and three decades ago.

"That's a rare thing now," Steele said of Ponder's skills.

It's the smarts and intangibles, which he believes puts Ponder over the top as a quality quarterback.

"He has a lot of tenacity. He's very calm and got just natural leadership qualities," Steele said. "He's a very, very special young man. He's what it's all about."

A lot of Ponder's actions on the field come natural, according to Fisher.

"Sometimes, he can just see it…if it's a little bit off, he just naturally seems to adjust and falls in the right place and does the right thing," Fisher said.

Clemson strong safety DeAndre McDaniel believes Ponder is playing as well or better than many quarterbacks in college football.

McDaniel believes Ponder's arm strength is better than any the Tiger defense has seen this year.

"He could probably throw 40 yards, straight on a line," McDaniel said. "He's got a real good arm."

As credited by Steele, Ponder is also a capable runner. Though opposing teams quarterbacks this year have run the ball with some success against Clemson's defense, McDaniel doesn't think it will be much of an issue on Saturday.

"With the bruised rib thing Ponder is going through right now, I don't think they're going to have him running too much this week," he said. "If they do, I'm pretty sure we're going to try to get some good licks on him also."

Ponder looks forward to the challenge of playing in Death Valley. Though he didn't play in his previous trip to Clemson in 2007, he's aware of the night game atmosphere.

The loudest, most hostile environment he's played in was at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, VA.

"It's a pretty hostile environment (in Clemson). Everyone I talk to always brings it up as one of the best environments to play in," Ponder said.

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