Christian Ponder: 17-28, 196 yards, 1/0. 11-21 rushing. 2 fumbles.
This will be a tough loss for Ponder. After being banged up with a bursa sac elbow injury, the senior fought through the pain and was having one of his best games of the season. His passes were crisper, more accurate, and his timing was better.
TWO costly turnovers were the difference in the game and both of them were "fluky" to a certain degree. The first fumble could have been ruled an incomplete pass....making matters worse, Easterling was wide open and if given another second, it could have been a touchdown. The second was a fluke at the most inopportune time.....but it lost the game.
The margin between winning and losing is not all that much and this game is the perfect illustration of that. In the end, there was much more positive from Ponder than negative in this game. He really had some quality runs as well. He has another eight days to get ready for a home game vs. North Carolina.
Ty Jones: 10-108
Chris Thompson: 6-39
Jermaine Thomas: 4-16
Florida State did not run the ball enough in this game. Jones ripped off three big gains and should have had more opportunity than 10 carries. Hindsight is 20/20, but we simply are not utilizing our running game quite as much as we should. Thompson ran hard and popped off a nice run down the sideline. Thomas struggled some and never quite got on track.
The reverse to A.J. Alexander was a poor play-call at the time. The strength of this offense is the Offensive Line and the Running Backs. That is not always indicative in our play-calling. Jones is still a little banged up and that might be part of the reason for throwing it as much as we did.
Bert Reed: 6-87
Willie Haulstead: 4-43, 1 TD
Taiwan Easterling: 1-29
Rodney Smith: 1-5
Beau Reliford: 1-5
Reed had his best game of the year and had two big plays called back. He was slippery and finally displayed some of his big play ability. He caught the ball better than he has previously this season. Haulstead caught the touchdown, a pair of sideline passes, and a huge catch over the middle on the final drive. However his drop late in the third quarter on third and long essentially took points off the board(at least three), it was a costly mistake. Still he continues to grow as a player and the future is bright.
Easterling was a no-show until a big catch late in the game. He almost broke it for a TD, but was pulled down by his jersey. Smith was a non-factor again as we wait for him to step up his game. No receiver on the team has his upside, but he has yet to really take the next step this year. Reliford caught one ball.
In the end it was a solid performance from the wide-outs and about what should be expected overall.
The offensive line had a solid game. They were opening up running lanes and giving Ponder plenty of time. There were too many penalties however and some of those stalled drives. If not for those penalties, this would have been another plus game for the unit, particularly with starter David Spurlock out and freshmen Bryan Stork starting.
For some reason we are not putting as much faith into this unit as their play dictates. At times we appear to be a top rushing team, but we often go away from the running game. One downside was that Center Ryan McMahon was getting handled inside, the senior needs to step up his game.
A little bit of sloppiness overall did this unit in for the game. The fumbles by Ponder, the costly penalties, and at times poor down field blocking all need to be cleaned up going forward. They played well enough to win this game.....we are literally talking a simple play-action pass for the win. But it was not to be and now this team needs to find the fight to close out the season as they should. There is no margin for error.