All spring long, Coach Bowden has been playing more of an ‘observer' role. While he is still very active in meetings is still in charge of the football team, Jimbo Fisher will be running the show this Saturday. Look for the head coach in waiting to be extremely active during the scrimmage while Coach Bowden will be taking notes from the backfield.
Statement Time for Ponder:
When Drew Weatherford went down early this spring, the door opened for Christian Ponder to make a statement that he is the man. Since taking over with the first team offense, Ponder has grown as a leader and has played great football. He has been very consistent and is slowly learning what Jimbo's offense is all about.
Look for Ponder to have a solid scrimmage and show the ability to make plays when forced out of the pocket. This Saturday he will make a final impression on Fisher before heading into summer workouts. As long as he plays the way he has most of the spring, the QB battle could get very interesting in the fall.
Don't forget D'Vo:
D'Vontrey Richardson will be running the second team offense in the spring game. He has shown flashes of greatness but hasn't been as consistent as he needs to be and has lost his composure a few times this spring. When making throws, look for the zip Richardson put on his passes. He has the strongest arm on the team and will make some nice throws but will likely miss some receivers too.
While working with the second team, the line won't give him as much time to make reads so look for him to be extremely active with his legs. Coach Fisher hasn't decided if he will make Richardson ‘live' to where he can be hit during the scrimmage, but if he is, look for him to give the defense all sorts of trouble with his speed. When he has the ball, Richardson looks more like a punt returner than a quarterback and can change direction without slowing down. This will be the first real chance the public will have to see Richardson in action and his athleticism will give them something to talk about heading into the summer.
Airing it out:
For most of the spring practices, the offense has been very pass heavy. Look for this trend to continue for the offense except when in 3rd and short situations. Antone Smith has silently had a solid spring but his back ups have not shown much. Brandon Paul still looks like he is trying to get used to playing running back at the division 1 level and Marcus Sims has not made many plays. Smith will receive the bulk of the carries at the spring game but that still will not be much. Things may change in the balance of the offense this fall when Tavares Pressley and Jermaine Thomas arrive on campus.
Battles in the Trenches:
The first team offensive line may be young but they have been very solid this spring. The unit is finally starting to get a hang of what Coach Trickett is teaching them. Look for them to give Christian Ponder plenty of time in the pocket for the most part.
The biggest battle to watch will be over at left tackle where Rodney Hudson and Everette Brown will be going at it all night long. Look for Hudson to win the majority of the plays but don't be surprised if Brown gets by him to blow up a play or two.
Budd Thacker has also had solid spring and will most likely get in the backfield on a few occasions during the scrimmage.
Look for the second team offensive line to have a little more trouble. They have had trouble holding blocks and picking up blitzes forcing Richardson to scramble more than he should be. Kevin McNeil has had his way over at the end position and will look to continue to make plays heading into the scrimmage.
The entire wide receiver unit has been up and down this spring. They have done a great job of making plays but have continued to drop passes that should be caught.
Preston Parker sat out the majority of spring practices with a groin injury but when he has practiced, he has been special. Every time he touches the ball, the threat of going the distance is there. Look for him to make at least one big play during the scrimmage.
Greg Carr also had a nagging groin this spring but has practiced for the most part. He is still mainly a jump ball threat but people underestimate his strength. When he does catch a ball on a shorter route, he does a great job of fighting for extra yardage and doesn't go down easy. Look for him to have a fairly quiet scrimmage but he may make a big catch down the field.
Freshman receivers Bert Reed and Taiwan Easterling have both had very solid springs. Reed has been the teams leading receiver and has made a few big plays. Look for him to make several catches and use his speed to pick up some extra yards. Easterling hasn't caught as many balls, but when he has, he has shown that he can be special. He does a great job of making defenders miss in the open field once he has the ball. Look for him to make a few plays during the scrimmage.
One player that might get a chance to show that he can make plays when given the opportunity is walk-on receiver Lewis Givens. He has made a few big plays this spring and may be a sleeper in the spring game. He won't have many balls thrown his way but don't be surprised if he comes up with a big play.
Florida State hasn't been known for using their tight ends over the past few seasons and not much has changes this spring. Caz Piurowski has caught a few touchdown passes this spring but has been pretty quiet for the most part. Jonathan Hannah has also had a silent spring. They have looked good blocking but won't be much of a threat catching the ball during the scrimmage. Look for this unit to be pretty quiet Saturday.
The linebackers have had a solid spring overall. Dekoda Watson has probably had the best spring of the unit and is slowly starting to become the leader of the crew. Kendall Smith and Dekoda Watson have also had very solid springs. Look for the linebackers to make the plays they should have a good showing in the scrimmage.
New Look Secondary:
Darius McClure and Jamie Robinson have both had great springs and will continue to fight for the starting role at free safety. Robinson has been more aggressive and is always looking to lay a hit on whoever has the ball. Look for both players to have a solid scrimmage but don't be surprised if their inexperience shows and they let a receiver past them for a big play.
Over at cornerback, Korey Mangum has come on to the scene and has seen big minutes this spring so far. He is solid in coverage and will make plays when the ball comes his way. He will be splitting time with Patrick Robinson who led the ACC in interceptions this season. He has had a very quiet spring but will likely show up and make at least one big play during the spring game. Tony Carter has also had a good spring. He hasn't done anything special but he continues to play solid day in and day out.
When it comes to strong safety the only name you really need to know is Myron Rolle. He has played well all spring long and has found ways to get more involved in plays.
All three of the early enrollees have had decent spring practices. Vince Williams and Nigel Bradham are still slowly adjusting to the speed of the game at this level. Bradham has shown great lateral movement and can cover ground fast once he gets going. He needs to work on his acceleration to become more complete. Expect both to look like they belong but they probably won't make the highlight reel just yet.
Terrance Parks has improved greatly since his first practice to now. He is not afraid to be physical with any of the receivers on the team. He has shown that he can make plays but still needs to work on not letting receivers past him. His consistency will be the biggest issue at the spring game. Look for him to either make a big play or give one up.
The game will start at 7:00 p.m. and will last for about two hours. Admission is free and seating is general admission so get there early to have the best seats. NoleDigest will be covering the entire spring game for those who can not attend.
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