The Wake Forest @ Florida State Seminoles Report Card: Offense Edition (Ponder Eval Complete, Check back for D'Vo and rest of offense)

This is my review of the game, in perspective with the goals I laid out for the team in last week's preview and rubric.

General Offense

Goal: No more than 2 : Fumbles (total, not lost) 

Grade: C  These fumbles were very costly, but FSU was unlucky here as they lost both.  We know that fumble recovery isn't a repeatable skill.  When I posted the number "2" as the goal, I was anticipating a sack leading to a fumble.  I didn't expect two careless plays by our upperclassmen (Smith & Parker).

The rest of the offense (including an extensive QB review), after the jump.

QB

I think the QB's should be able to hit the 140 mark, and I'd consider anything over 150 to be excellent.  I don't want to see more than 3 balls that are thrown poorly into coverage or that are ill advised.  This is a better measure, because I don't care if the corner picks it off or not.  I am concerned with the corner having the opportunity to pick the ill-advised or poorly thrown ball.  Finally, I want to see the quarterbacks continue to make great play fakes and use their mobility; both in and out of the pocket.

GRADE: D

I am sure you are thinking,  "D"?? 

Yes, "D".  The QB's tallied a QB rating of 34.  I personally don't care to look up where that ranks in FSU history, but it is hard to do much worse. 

Let's go in for the closer look, though, to see how these guys got to that horrifying measure.

Christian Ponder: 6-18, 52 Yards, 0 TD, 3 Int.

6 Completions:

1Q, 3rd Drive: 3rd and 12 at FSU18    

Ponder pass complete to Taiwan Easterling for 6 yards to the FlaSt 24.

CP looked rattled here as McMahon launched the previous snap.  Obviously, gaining 6 yards when we need 12 isn't success.  It was a good throw, however, on the crossing route.  I thought this pass was important to establish some level of normalcy. 

1Q, 4th Drive 3rd and 5 at FSU 18    

Ponder pass complete to Greg Carr for 8 yards to the FlaSt 26 for a 1ST down.

I criticized Ponder in the play-by-play review for failing to find guys underneath.  He did do it here, however.  Well thrown ball.

2Q, 5th Drive    2nd and 21 at FSU 22

Ponder pass complete to Preston Parker for 11 yards to the FlaSt 33.

I thought Ponder really started to improve here.  This wasn't a great throw, but it was good enough to hit Parker on the out route.

2Q, 5th Drive 3rd and 10 at FSU 33

Ponder pass complete to Greg Carr for 10 yards to the FlaSt 43 for a 1ST down.

This was a 10 yard comeback.  I was really impressed with Ponder on this drive.  He faced a 2nd and 21 from his own 22 and pulled it out.

2Q, 5th Drive   3rd and 7 at WFU 34

Ponder pass complete to Seddrick Holloway for 1 yard to the WFrst 33.

I reallt didn't like this throw.  Ponder had to re-set his feet.  Some believe this was a screen, but I disagree.  I think this was an outlet throw.  Honestly, if Parker cuts his route off (he looked to be the hot man), he would be wide open.

2Q, 6th Drive    3rd and 8 at FSU 13

Ponder pass complete to Parker for 16 yards to the FlaSt 29 for a 1ST down.

This was a really nice throw on the 16 yard square-in.

So, 6 completions.

5 were made on 3rd down and 5 or more.  Now, were these safe dumps underneath?  Nope, 3 of the 5 went for first downs (First downs of 8, 10, and 16).

I also count the 11 yard throw to Parker on 2nd and 21 as a win, as he picked up over half of the remaining necessary yardage.

These throws were pretty good for the most part, and Christian shows that he has the ability to make the throws.

 

Now, this leaves us with the 12 incompletions.

I am going to break these down into a few categories

The Bad Reads

Essentially, these aren't bad throws, but rather, are throws that shouldn't have been made because someone else was very open, or the intended receiver was totally covered.  Dangerous throws that are on target are included here.

1Q   1st and 10 at FSU 26   Christian Ponder pass incomplete to Owens

He was under heavy pressure on this throw, but Ponder did a really poor job of finding his guys underneath tonight.  He didn't see Parker wide open underneath

2Q  1st and 10 at WFU 37   Ponder pass incomplete.along sideline to Little.

Honestly, this wasn't a throwaway, as Antone was open in the left flat.  I will say Little ran a garbage route here.  The best thing about this incomplete was that it wasn't interceptable, and it would be easy to throw this sideline short out poorly enough to have it picked.

 

The Bad Throws

These are off target throws.  Jimbo said he would rather have someone be off target than have them make a bad read.  I hope he can fix this.

1Q  1st and 10 at FSU 41  Ponder pass intercepted at the WFrst 37.

Regarding this throw, Jimbo said   "That was not a poor decision, it was a poor throw. If he puts air on the ball and lays it in the corner, he's got a very good completion. He just threw the ball flat, and the corner was able to get over."  I saw Antone Smith open on the left of the hash and really wish Ponder would have gone there. 

2Q   3rd and 14 at FSU 22   Ponder pass incomplete deep to Surrency

He was under immediate pressure here (2nd time in game) as Antone totally blew his blitz pickup.

 

Bad Read & Bad Throw

These scare me.

1Q 1st and 10 at FSU 20  Ponder pass incomplete on comeback to Carr

This pass was late and low, but wasn't really in jeopardy of being picked off.  My guess is that he was gun shy after tossing his first career pick.

2Q 2nd and 8 at FSU 45 Ponder pass incomplete to Bert Reed.

Wake brought a big zone blitz here, and Ponder was under heavy pressure (third time an incompletion came as he was under big pressure), but I am concerned with the blocking here.  For whatever reason, the entire line slid the protection to the right.  Ponder didn't follow.  I'm not sure who this is on, but when the line slides and the QB doesn't… results predictable.  A major criticism of Ponder was his tendency to lock on to wideouts.  A Tomahawk Nation poster pointed that out, and he was absolutely right.  Ponder didn't see Antone open in the left flat, again.  I also think his drop on this play was too large.  Count the steps!  It was a nine-step drop!  When watching the Colorado game, look to see how Ponder works with his linemen.

2Q  2nd and 8 at FSU 13   Ponder pass incomplete deep to Corey Surrency.

Bad throw, into double coverage.  He dipped his shoulders way too much on this.  Poorly thrown deep ball.

2Q  3rd and 18 at FSU 21  Ponder pass intercepted at the FlaSt 49,

Ponder didn't make a good read here, but he didn't have much to work with. The ball was late and should not have been thrown, but this was GARBAGE on the part of Fisher.  I thought he called an average game, balancing good with bad.  This was the bad.  To put a first-year starting QB in a position where he has to make an 18 yard throw, with 2:38 on the clock, from his own 21, with a horrendously young OLine, against an ultra veteran defense, is just not acceptable! 

Fisher's comment  about this sequence was "And I take blame for that a little bit myself because I put him in a situation probably on third-and-18, we were trying to make some thing happen. Probably should have just ran the ball and went on. That's partly my fault too. That's one I wish I would have had back."  Puh-lease.  A little bit on yourself?  This is solely on your shoulders.  Jimbo, I'm a huge fan, but when you skirt your responsibilities, you sound like the delusional Bowden during the nepotism years.  A coach shouldn't blame a player when the coach put the player in a bad spot.

 

The Throwaways

These are balls that I judged as throwaway passes.

None.

 

The Desperation Heaves

These are passes thrown either right before the half, hail mary style, or at the end of the game when the outcome is not in doubt.  I don't take much away from these at all, as the defense isn't playing normal coverage.

4Q  1st and 20 at FSU 22  Ponder pass incomplete along sideline to Surrency.

4Q  2nd and 20 at FSU 22 Ponder pass (screen) incomplete to Antone Smith

4Q  3rd and 20 at FSU 22 Ponder pass intercepted at WF 42.

 

Other

I include good throws that were dropped, and good throws where the DB clearly interferes with the receiver.  Essentially, this category is for good throws that did not end up as completions.

2nd and 18 at FSU 21 Ponder pass incomplete to Preston Parker on crossing route.

Parker is mauled by CB A. Smith, and the refs don't call pass interference.

 

Summary

Ponder did not play a good game.  He locked into his receivers and didn't scan the field very well.  He took inconsistent drops, usually too long rather than too short.  He seemed too jacked up to start the game, and then looked hesitant on his 2nd (Antone's Fumble) and 3rd series (punt).

Despite what some might think, however, he did come around in this game.  I am not going to count the last three passes he threw in this game.  The game was OVER (down 2 scores with less than a 2 minutes, at your own 20) and that is not a good situation in which to evaluate a QB.

Jimbo said to put the 2nd interception on the OC, and I already did.  If you evaluate Ponder based on reasonable situations (and I don't think you'll see Jimbo to ask him to throw deep on 3rd and 18 from his own 20 with no timeouts and 1:10 left in the first half again), he was below average, as opposed to very bad. 

Ponder clearly had the best grasp on the offense.  He made few truly atrocious reads (reads where he just misses the defender).  Locking in on a receiver is correctable, and I expect Jimbo to emphasize the checkdown, especially to Smith.  I'm not saying he played well by any means, but he definitely showed some flashes and isn't that far off from performing well.

Ponder also ran 3 times for 3, 8 (called back b/c Surrency chop), 4,  and 18 yards.  Taking out the play called back for the Surrency block, that is still over 8 yards per carry.  Ponder is an effective runner and will continue to use his wheels as a weapon.

A lot more to come...

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