This is first in a 6-part series covering the position groups as Florida State begins Spring practice. Today we'll be looking at the quarterback position. Florida State only lost 1 starter from its record-setting 2009 offense. That lone starter was WR Rod Owens. The 'Noles also lost only 2 backups in Richard Goodman and Brandon Davis. Remarkably, FSU returns 11 of 12 starters and 10 of 12 reserves. With that returning depth, you might think that the Spring will be boring for the offense. Some off-season surgeries, however, will make things interesting and give the younger players a chance to step up and show their talent.
|QB Coach Dameyune Craig|
Quarterback is the most important position on the field and Florida State has a history of having great quarterbacks. FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher is regarded as one of the top QB coaches in the country. He will continue to mentor the quarterbacks as head coach, but will also be joined by new quarterback coach Dameyune Craig. Craig played for Fisher at Auburn before coaching at South Alabama. He knows Coach Fisher's system. He also worked under Nick Saban for a year during Saban's brief stint with the Miami Dolphins. His bio is here. If Craig is anywhere near the QB coach Fisher is, FSU has a good one.
The 'Noles feature Christian Ponder. Before separating his shoulder against Clemson, Ponder was arguably playing better than any quarterback in the country. Ponder had shoulder surgery around Thanksgiving. He'll participate in Spring practice, but the clear goal for him will be to continue his rehab. His work will be very structured and limited as his focus is on being in top condition when Summer passing drills begin.
Backup E.J. Manuel is out for Spring after recently undergoing shoulder surgery to repair a very partial tear in his rotator cuff. The Gator Bowl MVP's procedure was done as a precautionary measure to clean out some debris. Manuel should be back for summer passing drills. Due to some bad luck last year (compound finger fracture), Manuel has not yet gone through a Spring practice.
|Redshirt freshman quarterback Will Secord|
That leaves redshirt-freshman Will Secord as the backup quarterback. Secord is really a bit more than the backup for Spring, however, because of Ponder's limited work load. In case you don't follow recruiting, you should freshen up on the 6'3" 215 lb quarterback from Texas. Here's some film. He was rated a three-star prospect by all of the services. Rivals had him as the #32 pro-style QB, Scout as the #57 QB, and ESPN: #60 QB. Secord was heavily courted by Bobby Petrino of Arkansas. A prospect wanted by both Jimbo Fisher and Bobby Petrino has to be pretty good. He's also the son of a coach. Secord spent his redshirt year learning the offense and refining his footwork.
The one major question here is that Secord if a lefty. How will this affect the offense? Will Fisher flip the plays for the southpaw? If he does, how will this affect the other players? Can the players adjust to the ball spinning a different way? Receivers sometimes have a tough time adjusting to that. If he doesn't, how will the non-change affect Secord? The main concern would be handoffs and progressions.
|Freshman quarterback Clint Tricket|
The third quarterback (who is really like the #2 given the limited workload Ponder will receive) is freshman Clint Trickett. He is the son of Florida State Offensive Line Coach Rick Trickett. His brother Travis is on staff as well. Clint was probably the top quarterback prospect in the state this past year. He enrolled in January and is eligible to compete in Spring. Normally, I wouldn't expect a true freshman quarterback to do much in Spring, but Trickett has been around this team for almost 4 years and already has a good working knowledge of the offense. It will be very interesting to see how he reacts to the speed of the college game.
The Spring will serve as an excellent evaluation period for these young quarterbacks. It should also leave the pair with a taste in their mouth and wanting more. And while it would be optimal to have Ponder and Manuel fully healthy, this situation is better than last season, when the 'Noles had only Christian Ponder and two walk ons.