Florida State Draft Results For Spring Game: Breaking Down Team Garnet & Team Gold

From the FSU Press Release:  TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The highly-anticipated draft of players for Saturday's 2010 Florida State Garnet & Gold Spring Game was held Thursday in the football offices, with the squads selected by eight seniors; four assigned to each unit.

Veteran quarterback Christian Ponder, center Ryan McMahon, fullback Matt Dunham and cornerback Ochuko Jenije gathered in the "war room" to select the Gold squad. Across the room, All-American guard Rodney Hudson, tailback Tavares Pressley, linebacker Kendall Smith and defensive end Markus White made up the "brain trust" behind the Garnet team selections.

In addition to tabbing the players, the selectees also drafted their respective coaching staffs and trainers. Those selections will be released prior to game time, as will the selection of specialists. Though Saturday's game, set for 5 p.m. at Doak Campbell Stadium, will be real in every sense, there will be no live kickoff or punt teams.

FSU coach Jimbo Fisher, as well as the players, had been looking forward to the selection process.

"That will be really interesting," Fisher said. "You can pick by the best player, or you can pick by the biggest separation at a key position. ... I'm really interested because it will tell you something about how they feel about each other."

Based on the roster breakdowns, there was a distinct difference in the way the teams were built. The Gold team, on paper, appears loaded offensively with three returning offensive linemen and a bevy of proven backs, wideouts and tight ends. They also have cornerback Greg Reid. The Gold team has a distinct defensive flavor, with linebackers Nigel Bradham and Mister Alexander joining Smith. The roster also includes top returning receiver Bert Reed and tailback Lonnie Pryor.

It's clear to me that some players don't understand the strategy to this draft.  There's really no question what the best strategy should be (draft the largest value, not the best player). The main complaint I have is that team Gold should have been given Pressley and Garnet given McMahon, because as of now Gold's offensive line has 5 scholarship offensive linemen and a preferred walk-on, while team Garnet has 4 scholarship guys (and Ganguzza is questionable at best), 1 preferred walk-on, and two regular walk-ons.

Here are the teams, broken down by position, with the non-contributors removed. 

Garnet Gold
QB 16 Will Secord QB QB 7 Christian Ponder QB
QB 9 Clint Trickett QB QB Walk On
RB 24 Lonnie Pryor RB RB 38 Jermaine Thomas RB
RB 39 Tavares Pressley RB RB 23 Chris Thompson RB
RB 33 Ty Jones RB RB 21 Debrale Smiley RB
FB 48 Daniel Gard FB FB 40 Matthew Dunham FB
TE 85 Ja’Baris Little TE TE 88 Beau Reliford TE
WR 83 Bert Reed WR WR 80 Jarmon Fortson WR
WR 82 Willie Haulstead WR WR 84 Rodney Smith WR
WR 26 A.J. Alexander WR WR 87 Cameron Wade WR
OT 73 Rhonne Sanderson OT OT 59 Henry Orelus OG
OT ? Snider maybe?   OT 67 Andrew Datko OT
OG 62 Rodney Hudson OG 57 Kevin Dehlinger OL (wo)
OG 79 David Spurlock OG 64 Emory Mandala OL (wo)
OG 61 Blake Snider OG 65 Jonathan Elridge OL (wo)
OG 52 Bryan Stork OG 71 Robert Gardner OL (wo)
OC 63 A.J. Ganguzza C 66 Jacob Stanley C (wo)
OC 60 Ryan McMahon C
DE 98 Markus White DE DE 96 Toshmon Stevens DE 55 Jamar Jackson DE
DE 58 Dan Hicks DE DE 49 Brandon Jenkins DE
DT 92 Anthony McCloud DT 68 Jon Jones DT DT 99 Jacobbi McDaniel DT
DT 93 Everett Dawkins DL DT 97 Demonte McAllister DL
OLB 13 Nigel Bradham LB OLB 11 Vince Williams LB
MLB 29 Kendall Smith LB MLB 48 Jeff Luc LB
OLB 16 Mister Alexander LB OLB 12 Nigel Carr LB
CB 27 Xavier Rhodes CB CB 5 Greg Reid CB
CB 28 Dionte Allen CB CB 15 Ochuko Jenije CB
FS 6 Gerald Demps S 30 Jajuan Harley S FS 4 Terrance Parks S 3 Justin Bright S
SS 10 Nick Moody S SS 37 Ed Imeokparia S 8 Chad Colley S

The obvious question here is how much Christian Ponder is allowed to play.  If Ponder takes the serious majority of team Gold's snaps, team Gold should put a beatdown on team Garnet.  But if team Gold is forced to use the walk on QB for half (or slightly less) of its snaps, then FSU fans will have something to watch. 

I say that because team Gold could have trouble stretching the field.  It's not that team Gold is slow, but rather they aren't exceptionally fast and with a walk-on quarterback, the option to stretch the field vertically is virtually foreclosed.  If a team (in this case, Garnet), knows its opponent can't stretch the field vertically, then that team can focus in on the shorter routes and the running game.  Additionally, team Garnet has the large defensive backs to handle team Gold's WR trio of 6'3", 6'5", and 6'6" (even if Cam Wade is terrible he is still still and big), plus its 6'5" TE Beau Reliford.  Those larger DBs could also help in stopping the run, which will be very important when Ponder comes off the field. I would expect team Garnet to play a decent amount of cover-3 with Moody in the box.

On the other side, how good are the young quarterbacks on the Garnet.  Garnet has the better receivers, and 2 of those guys are serious burners in Bert Reed and A.J. Alexander.  Luckily for team Gold, they have some seriously quick DBs, highlighted by Greg Reid.  Team Gold also has Terrance Parks, who has had a tremendous spring.  But team Gold has a clear weakness in the Imeokparia/ Bright/ Colley combination at strong safety.  Team Gold should look to hide those guys schematically.  Can the young Garnet signalcallers get the ball to the speedy receivers?  I'm excited to see that. 

I'm also quite interested to see how team Garnet exposes team Gold's linebackers.  Vince Williams and Jeff Luc are both huge middle-linebacker types.  How will they be in pass coverage?  Team Garnet needs to stretch the field with its fast receivers (discussed above), and then exploit the strong safety position and attempt to exploit team Gold's run-stopping but possibly less than stellar pass coverage linebackers.  Can Ja'Barris Little have a big day?  Who from team Gold can cover Lonnie Pryor, one of the best pass catching backs in football. I'd also look for team Garnet to run reverses with Reed and Alexander, getting the big backer's momentum going one way and then using it against them.

Speaking of backs, I'm going to predict that Chris Thompson (or maybe Jermaine Thomas) catches a big wheel route down the sideline from Ponder.  Thompson has had a tremendous Spring and is bigger and faster than almost anyone expected.  They have great hands with team Garnet playing a lot of cover-3 with Moody in the box, this would be an excellent idea for team Gold.  It's also a route Ponder throws well and an exciting play for the crowd. 

But perhaps the most intriguing battles in this game will come in the trenches and the run game.  Remember that the QBs wear the protective jerseys.  How much will the defense respect the QB run threat?  It is my hope that the defense plays disciplined and does respect the run threat/ fake from the QB, because that's what they would need to do in a real game.  Bootleg action is a large part of FSU's run game (much like Denver with Elway, etc), and if the backside defender doesn't respect the run fake, the run games can be shut down by outnumbering the blockers. 

I have concerns about team team Garnet's ability to run the ball.  Ty Jones and Tavares Pressley are both inconsistent, and while Lonnie Pryor may be the best all-around back, but he hasn't shown he can run in FSU's base scheme, so much so that FSU didn't run him in the zone stuff really at all last year.  But word is he's really worked on his skills and is improving as a zone runner.  As far as Garnet's offensive line, it has some nice players, but also some major questions.  I'm assuming Snider will play tackle and they will slide a walk-on to Guard.  Or perhaps they will have Snider at tackle, Ganguzza to Guard, and Stanley at Center (the most experienced walk-on).  But I still see major trouble here on the inside.  Ganguzza has been banged up and is unlikely to play. If team Gold lines up McDaniel over him or in his gap away from Hudson, team Garnet could have some serious penetration issues.  Sanderson and Snider can be successful run blocking Stevens and Jenkins, but before getting to the outside, team Garnet must at last battle McDaniel to a draw. I always like to look at this: Team Gold's front-7 combines for 1735 lbs (small), as of the last roster.  The key will be blocking McDaniel.  If Garnet can do that, they can run against the undersized front-7.

In pass protection, Jenkins abused Snider 2 weeks ago, but Snider has looked better of late and will look for redemption.  Blocking McDaniel will be key as well, and McAllister could show something here. Pryor is a tremendous pass protector, and that should help out when team Garnet goes deep.

On the other side, team Gold is going to need to run the ball when Ponder isn't on the field.  And they'll also need to run it early for play-action purposes later on, allowing the less fleet-of-foot wideouts to get downfield.  Team Gold's O-Line is very good.  They might have 6 of the top 10 offensive linemen.  Datko is tremendous and Orelus is powerful, but raw.  On the inside, McMahon is good, and Spurlock/Stork is not a bad guard combo.  This line would be one of the better lines in the ACC.  But team Garnet has a bigger front-7 (1783 lbs), so it won't entirely be a pushover.  Dawkins and White are solid, but the real wildcards here are Hicks and McCloud.  If McCloud has a really big day, team Garnet has the ability to limit Gold's running attack.  I don't expect that, however, as he's played 3 weeks of football in the last 600 days. Thomas and Thompson are both very good zone backs and they could have a big day.

Team Garnet will likely zone blitz a lot to try to get pressure against Gold's o-line, while still flooding the underneath zones, because Datko can handle anything team Garnet throws at him, and McMahon will usually have the line in the right protection.

The bottom line is to expect big plays (mixed with losses and inconsistencies) from team Garnet, while team Gold must score with Ponder and persevere with the walk on, looking for big plays later in the game from play-action.

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