Florida State Prepares for Miami and Releases Depth Chart -Fixed and Updated!

First up, I did  Bud Elliott Tomahawk Nation Fox Sports Radio the other day.  [That's an audio link, and it is safe for work].   It went pretty well, though I meant to say Christian Ponder averaged 4 first downs per game, not 4 total first downs gained on the year, obviously.

The good news coming out of Saturday's scrimmage is that there are no new injuries.  DT's Budd Thacker (toe) and Kendrick Stewart (knee) were held out for precautionary reasons, as was freshman DE/DT DeMonte McAlllister.  I expect Stewart to play against Miami and Thacker should be back in time, but that is not a definite.  

Mickey Andrews indicated that backup Free Safety Terrance Parks will be out for at least two more weeks with a lingering hamstring injury.  Jamey Robinson really needs to stay healthy.  

Oh, and the big news was that the coaches finally released a depth chart (practices are closed, so nobody could officially know what was going on, though there are obviously leaks).  Inside, we discuss the depth chart

This is not final and will almost certainly change.

First up, is the Seminoles top rated ACC offense of a year ago:

Z  WR – Richard Goodman, Sr., 6-0/215
Jarmon Fortson, Soph., 6-3/228

LT – Andrew Datko, Soph., 6-6/291
Rhonne Sanderson, Fr., 6-4/288

LG – Rodney Hudson, Jr., 6-2/292
Blake Snider, Fr., 6-4/282

C – Ryan McMahon, Jr., 6-3/286
A.J. Ganguzza, Soph., 6-3/268

RG – David Spurlock, Soph., 6-5/288
Brandon Davis, Jr., 6-2/281

RT – Zebrie Sanders, Soph., 6-5/290
Garrett Faircloth, Fr., 6-6/288

TE – Caz Piurowski, Sr., 6-7/262
Beau Reliford, Soph., 6-7/241

QB – Christian Ponder, Jr., 6-3/222
E.J. Manuel, Fr., 6-4/223

FB – Ja’Baris Little, Soph., 6-4/226
Daniel Gard, Jr., 5-10/212

TB – Jermaine Thomas, Soph., 6-1/195
Ty Jones, Soph., 5-11/208
or Chris Thompson, Fr., 5-8/173

X  WR – Rod Owens, Sr., 6-0/183
Bert Reed, Soph., 5-11/165

  • Incorrect player weights.  For instance, we know Ponder is 222 and Caz is 260, and Fortson is probably closer to 230 than 223.  Datko is 290, not 283.  So yeah, these are the weights from the Spring.  Nice of FSU to update them for us (sarcasm).  I updated them were applicable.
  • You'll note that FSU lists a fullback.  I find that curious and continue to believe that they will use that "fullback" as an H-back.  
  • Seniors at wideout.  Goodman and Owens have set the tone witht he most consistent camp, running the correct routes, catching balls, etc, so they will start.  This coaching staff (unlike the defense) will start the best player regardless of senority, so I trust them.  
  • Tavares Pressley isn't healthy, and as we told you time and again, don't expect performance out of a runner coming off that type of injury in his first season back.  
  • Chris Thompson was so electric in his performance during camp before busting his ankle that he is tied for 2nd on the DC.  Pryor should redshirt but will likely get some garbage minutes.  All of the backs need to fix their pass protection issues.
  • The loser of the Spurlock/ Davis battle will be the backup at both guard positions.  
  • Sanderson is the real backup at both tackle positions.  

Jimbo Fisher notes that his offense only has three scholarship seniors, starting or otherwise. (and all three are easily replaced after this season).  If the offense was the conference's best last year, what can we expect this year and in 2010?   We've been pointing out thr youth of this team for month, but when Fisher says it, it resonates with you so we link it. 

What might we do with our H-Back?  Michigan is doing this:  

To counter that "scrape" technique (see article below defense depth chart)

The Wolverines have practiced with a tight end (typically Kevin Koger or Martell Webb) lined up in the backfield as an H-back to the playside. When the team runs the zone-read play, the H-back pulls across, but doesn't block the crashing defensive end. He'll take the linebacker scraping over the top, or if there isn't a defender assigned to the QB keep, he'll work upfield to the next defender.

I imagine this scheme only works really well when the defense is trying to run this scrape technique, and will primarily be used only when the offensive coaching staff expects it from the defense.  H/t- Tim


Ponder says he is getting better protection this year, and that's allowed him to post a perfect QB rating:

Ponder appears to be displaying that ability in preseason practice. In FSU's first two full scrimmages, working against the second-team defense, he passed for a combined 520 yards on 27-of-36 passing. He threw seven touchdown passes with no interceptions.

``Obviously, it all starts with them,'' Ponder said of the offensive linemen. ``If they didn't give me time, those deep balls wouldn't be completed. They're doing a good job.''When he drops back from center, the junior quarterback said he no longer feels the need to peek over his shoulder to see if he is the target of an approaching pass-rusher. He simply makes his reads, plants his feet, steps forward in the pocket and delivers his throws.

``That blind side is hard to deal with,'' Ponder said. ``When you have a left tackle and a left guard like Rodney and Datko, it makes things a lot better. It gives me more comfort in setting my feet, and that's something I struggled with last year. Now I can sit in the pocket and stay comfortable. I'm not running a lot like I did last year. I'm staying in there.''


Ponder Speaks:

-not looking to run as much as he did last year. He’d like to protect his body. But, he said, if he has to run he will run. He is looking to stay in the pocket longer.

-Ponder isn’t a yeller – "I don’t feel like I have to raise my voice," he says – but says he has gotten on some of his teammates this preseason. That’s a sign of him developing as a leader.

He's very confident against Miami.  



Carter on Fisher on FSU

-though Ponder is likely to spend more time in the pocket, Fisher says he doesn’t want to eliminate Ponder’s ability to run.

-the pass blocking has come a good ways, Fisher said, but it also helps that receivers are doing a better job running the correct routes.

-It’s "wait and see" to see if E.J. Manuel will be used in some sort of creative way, or if he’ll be a more traditional back-up. They have a package in place for Manuel, but Fisher said he’s going to wait and see how things go in practice this week.

-going back to the Miami game last year, Fisher said that game helped show him that Ponder is a winner. Remember that fourth-quarter scramble for a first down? Ponder can process information and he’s conscientious, Fisher said. He cares.





If you're in the "the defense will be fine crowd", I suggest you take another look.  

LE – Craig Yarborough, Sr., 6-2/236
Toshmon Stevens, Fr., 6-5/228

DT – Moses McCray, Soph., 6-2/291
Everett Dawkins, So, 6-2/262

NT – Kendrick Stewart, Sr., 6-2/278
Jacobbi McDaniel, Fr., 6-0/288

RE – Markus White, Jr., 6-4/261
Brandon Jenkins, Fr., 6-2/240

SLB – Dekoda Watson, Sr., 6-2/228
Nigel Carr, Soph., 6-3/230

MLB – Kendall Smith, Jr., 6-1/224
Nigel Carr, Soph., 6-3/230*

WLB – Nigel Bradham, Soph., 6-2/235
Maurice Harris, Soph., 6-0/212

CB – Ochuko Jenije, Jr., 5-10/188
Dionte Allen, Soph., 5-11/172

CB – Patrick Robinson, Sr., 5-11/194
A.J. Alexander, Fr., 5-11/180

FS – Jamie Robinson, Sr., 6-2/188
Justin Bright, Fr., 6-0/180
or Chad Colley, Soph., 5-11/166

RV – Korey Mangum, Sr., 6-0/202
Nick Moody, Fr., 6-2/228

  • The starters are okay for the most part, but the backups are terrible, and this defense could easily be crippled by a single injury to a defensive lineman or a linebacker.  There are many problems with this defense, including hiring cronies instead of the best possible coaches, lack of recruiting and a recruiting plan in 2006 and 2007, an outdated scheme, stressing aggression over discipline, blaming the players instead of the coaches, and the battle between Andrews in the program (should be in youth movement but he's trying to win now, because it is his last season before he goes to raise his son's kids, etc).  
  • Jodey Allen is a horrible defensive ends coach.  He can't hold Jim Gladden's jock.  For him to be giving snaps to Yarborough, even for motivational purposes, is inexcuseable.  Allen never played or coached defensive ends before being gifted the job by Bowden.  It has not worked out well as they continue to be incredibly undersized and undisciplined.  
  • The Yarborough pick is annoying.  I was asked about starting a walk-on defensive end a few days ago, this was my response:  
    Senior walkon. This Senority above all other stuff at the expense of talent angers me. Jody Allen is a terrible coach who will not be around much longer. Seriously the worst coach, but not the lightning rod Amato is. Oh and he coordinates our putrid coverage units as well. Prepare for a year of bad defense. I won’t sugarcoat it. Bad coaching from coaches who no longer have or never had the ability or the drive. I expect to be a bottom half defense in the ACC and outside the top 40 for the first time in my lifetime. Prepare for the worst Mickey Andrews Defense ever.  It could happen. They will blame it on injury but their poor player evaluation and recruiting have created a situation where any injury is crippling.  The key to a great defense is quality depth, and FSU doesn't have any depth, much less quality depth.  I'm not hoping for good, I am hoping to skirt disaster.
  • Yes, I understand that this could be motivational in order to light a fire under Senior Kevin McNiel, who showed up to camp out of shape.  I buy it to an extent, but not fully, because Yarborough has been getting significant reps in practice.  If he plays, FSU is in trouble, because they will once against get run over as teams realize the 'Noles are entirely too small.
  • The depth along the defensive line is inexcuseable.   This is a result of injuries,  but moreso, poor recruiting by the lame duck defensive staff.  They slacked in 2006 and 2007 and as a result, they have crippled this team's depth.  FSU is now depending on a freshman and sophomore defensive tackle tandem to start and play well.  While talented, it's likely they will get worked in some games.
  • I replaced Recardo Wright with Nigel Carr.  No way would Recardo Wright get into the game over him as the backup middle linebacker.
  • Don't worry about Jenijie.  He played well last year.  Greg Reid will start at Nickel corner (effectively, is FSU's 3rd corner).  If Jenijie or Robinson go down, Reid slides in.
  • I do worry about Mangum at rover, a lot.  The problem here, however, is that nobody even came close to outplaying him.  You can't start a freshman over a senior when the freshman hasn't given you any readon to do so, right?  Mostly because of injuries and inexperience, guys like Harley and Moody never put it all together this fall camp.  Mangum isn't big, but he has good tackling technique and could be serviceable, though he will not be Myron Rolle.
  • The entire secondary will receive a lot of blame for things that aren't their fault this year as Andrews' silly outdated scheme continues to put way too much pressure on them.

Mickey Andrews says his defense is young:  In this article, Andrews tells Steve Ellis that 13 of the top 22 will be freshmen or sophomores.  However, when you count it up, it looks like 12.  In any case, his defense was very veteran last season and didn't live up to expectations.  Andrews is no longer a good teacher and seeing as this will be his last year, it will be very interesting to see if he can field a competent defense with this group.  The blame for the youthful nature of the defense falls on Andrews' 2006 and 2007 recruiting failures, because he is the defensive coordinator.  

Here is a good article on defending the zone read- something Mickey Andrews and his staff have not been able to deal with at all (7 yards per play allowed).  


Mickey's press-conference wrap up

-Team is super young and fast but not strong or disciplined.  Fastest ever.  Super fast.  

-Andrews said the problems in covering the tight ends in recent years – Miami took advantage of this last season – was a lack of discipline.

-Greg Reid will start in the Seminoles’ nickel package. FSU has four freshmen, Reid included, who could see time in the secondary. Reid is probably the furthest along, Andrews said. Andrews: "Greg knows how to finish plays."

I am impressed by the progress of the young guys, but they have to progress because there are no upperclassmen.




PK – Dustin Hopkins, Fr., 6-2/174
James Esco, Soph., 6-3/207

KO – Dustin Hopkins, Fr., 6-2/174

P – Shaun Powell, Soph., 6-5/217
Kevin Campbell, Jr., 6-0/190

DS – Zack Aronson, Sr., 6-2/218
Chris Revell, Fr., 6-0/207

HO – Shaun Powell, Soph., 6-5/217

PR – Bert Reed, Soph., 5-11/165
or Greg Reid, Fr., 5-9/175

KR – Patrick Robinson, Sr., 5-11/194
Taiwan Easterling, Soph., 5-11/187


  • It's absolutely ridiculous for Patrick Robinson, the top cornerback in the nation, the best football player on the team, and the most important player on defense, to be risking injury by returning kicks.  Again, Jodey Allen should not have a job in major college football, and definitely not with the 'Noles. 
  • The punt return unit could be particularly nasty.
  • The total lack of depth at linebacker will hur the 'Noles coverage units, which were alreay awful last year (68th nationally!).  Thanks again, defensive coaches.  

Odds and Ends

Florida State ended last year with the 2nd-most offensive momentum in the country.  That's a good sign, and really, really shows you how good BC and UF were on defense.  Everyone played terribly against those two.

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