I caught up with Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder on his drive to the Manning Passing Academy on Thursday to get his take on FSU’s recent promotion of him for the Heisman Trophy. On Wednesday, the university launched the Web site cp7forheisman.com. Ponder is smart. (His 2.5 isn’t his GPA, it’s his number of degrees.) He knows as well as anyone that it will take more than marketing for him to win college football’s most prestigious award. Can he do it?
Here are the highlights of our conversation:
How much do you pay attention to what other Heisman candidates are doing?
Christian Ponder: Honestly I don’t pay that much attention to what other people do, especially if it’s a different position. Maybe I’ll compare myself to what the other quarterbacks are doing, but I don’t really keep up with specifics. When you start comparing yourself to other people it becomes a distraction and start putting unnecessary pressure on yourself to perform so I don’t really get in the habit of doing it too much.
It’s hard not to make some comparisons though because Florida State has never put out a Heisman campaign before and they’ve obviously had Heisman Trophy winners. Do you think you guys with so many starters back on offense can put up some numbers comparable to those years with Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke?
CP: Oh definitely. Look at what we did last year. We put up amazing numbers. We were at the top in the ACC and close to the top in the country and we’ve got everyone coming back but one guy. We’re set to play pretty well. The expectations are high for ourselves and if we don’t perform as well or better than last year it will be a disappointment.
What are you working on? What can you get better at?
CP: There’s always fundamental things to work on, you can always watch more film. The thing with coach Fisher, I know a lot of the playbook, but he’s always adding stuff. It’s an ever changing playbook. There’s always things you can work on. You’re never going to get to where you want to be, and nobody is perfect, but you’ve got to strive to be there. I improved a lot between my sophomore and junior year, and if I want to see that improvement again, I’ve got to work harder than I ever did before.
Do you feel like because of the Heisman promotion you’ve got to be a superstar this year, that there is no margin for error?
CP: Not really. It doesn’t really add anymore pressure than I already put on myself. I always have high expectations for myself that things like this don’t really change what I want to do for myself. It’s no big deal.
Did you have any input on the site? CP: I didn’t really have any specifics. They came and asked me if I’d be comfortable with everything. Everything had to go through coach Fisher, he had to approve everything. Knowing how strict he is and how he’s going to make sure everything has to be good for me and for the team, I was comfortable with everything that went on.
Stay tuned for Part II ...