Ponder Still Has "A Lot To Prove"

Heading into last spring, quarterback Christian Ponder had his hopes set on doing everything he could to get an edge in the QB battle once fall camp started up. Weatherford ended up going down to injury giving Ponder full control of spring, and once again, an injury is putting Ponder comfortably in the drivers seat this spring.

The buzz around Seminole Nation heading into spring practice was surrounding freshman quarterback E.J. Manuel, and if he would be able to make a push forcing what seems to be an annual event that takes place in Tallahassee every fall; a wide open quarterback competition for the starting job.

That storyline came to a halt one practice in as E.J. Manuel suffered a compound dislocation of his right index finger requiring surgery, which will likely sideline the Virginia Beach native for to spring.

Although Ponder is now the only quarterback currently on scholarship that will be practicing this spring, he says he is focusing on getting better in preparation to improve on his personal skills.

"I still have a lot to prove," Ponder said. "The biggest thing for us is to stop making mistakes. We made a lot of little and mental mistakes last year, so we really need to focus on correcting all of those and getting everyone comfortable out there."

Ponder will have a young group of receivers but says he is seeing the veterans on the team step up during off-season workouts and heading into spring practice.

"Richard Goodman, Rod Owens and even Louis Givens are all out there being great leaders for the receivers and make my job a lot easier as I too try to help such a young unit come along," the Texas native said of the group.

For the second year in a row, offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher will be short-handed at the quarterback position, but is looking at it with a ‘glass half full' mentality.

"You could look at it a few ways," Fisher said. And one way is that one guy gets a lot better."

When asked what he expects of Ponder this spring, Fisher made it clear that he wants from his soon to be redshirt junior quarterback.

"He needs to take it up another step with leadership and his play making ability," Fisher said. "He should be at that level, that when there is a play to be made, he is able to make it and he has to capitalize on every opportunity he has."

And look for Ponder to do just that. Fisher will be able to focus on working Ponder far more than he originally planned heading into spring which could be a blessing for the 'Noles. With an offense that will rely heavily on young weapons next year, Ponder will have to be a leader for the unit and getting extra work in the spring can only be a positive for him and his teammates.

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