ACC: Jamie Robinson
2009 overall record: 7-6
2009 conference record: 4-4
Offense: 10, defense 6: punter/kicker 2
QB Christian Ponder, LG Rodney Hudson, C Ryan McMahon, WR Bert Reed, CB/PR Greg Reid, RB Jermaine Thomas, DE Markus White, LB Kendall Smith, LB Nigel Bradham, CB Ochuko Jenjie
CB Patrick Robinson, S Jamie Robinson, LB Dekoda Watson, WR Rod Owens
2009 statistical leaders (* returners)
Rushing: Thomas*(832 yards)
Passing: Ponder* (2,717 yds)
Receiving: Owens (729 yds)
Tackles: Bradham* (93)
Sacks: Watson (6)
Interceptions: J. Robinson, Jenjie* (4)
1. Tailor-made defense. We don’t know yet how much better it will be, but the new defensive scheme will create more playmaking opportunities under first-year coordinator Mark Stoops. The Noles will use more zone coverage and be more suited for the personnel. That should lead to some improvement.
2. Ponder will be 100 percent. He took every meaningful snap with the first team offense this spring and there didn’t seem to be a difference since he injured his shoulder last year. That means Florida State could have a Heisman contender this year.
3. Staff cohesion. The five new on-field assistants and first-year strength coach brought a new philosophy to Tallahassee and they clicked well together in their first practice sessions. Coach Jimbo Fisher does things differently than his predecessor. Both the offensive and defensive staffs met a lot together to look at film, and there was good feedback across the board between players and coaches.
1. Consistency at receiver. With the exception of Reed, dependability was sorely lacking in this group. Plenty of plays were made, but not continuously. Fisher said the execution is not where he wants it to be. Jarmon Fortson is one of the players who needs to step it up.
2. Tailback talk. Who’s going to win the tailback job, or will it be by committee? Chris Thompson passed Jermaine Thomas on the unofficial depth chart, but there’s also Lonnie Pryor, Tavares Pressley, Ty Jones and junior-college transfer Debrale Smiley, who is a fullback/tailback like Pryor. They all had their moments this spring.
3. Unsecure secondary. FSU has four good corners to count on in this scheme with Jenjie, Reid, Dionte Allen and newcomer Xavier Rhodes, but the two safety spots and depth remain in flux. Jenjie is the only returning starter in the secondary.
Robinson ran a 4.38 and Watson a 4.4.
“I was definitely interested in posting a better number, because I didn’t feel like I ran like I was supposed to at the combine," Watson said in a release. "I wasn’t comfortable with the surroundings and the setting and looking at the film from the combine, I noticed that my knee lift wasn’t where it was supposed to be and knocked my 40 time down at the combine. That’s what I worked on and it really helped me out. … As long as it was in that 4.4 range, I can’t be mad.”
There were about 30 representatives from NFL and CFL teams, including San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Singletary. In all, 14 total players participated. Drills included the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, standing broad jump, bench press and agility drills.
A few other highlights:
- Jamie Robinson had a 10-foot, 2-inch standing broad jump, which barely beat receiver Rod Owens’ 10-foot, 1 ½-inch effort. Owens also had a 34 ½-inch vertical jump.
- Defensive tackle Budd Thacker led the way in the bench press with 31 repetitions at 225 pounds.
Additional participants included: deep snapper Zack Aronson, receiver Louis Givens, receiver Richard Goodman, defensive tackle Justin Mincey, tight end Caz Piurowski, defensive tackle Kendrick Stewart and linebacker Recardo Wright. One-time FSU linebacker Jae Thaxton and receiver Preston Parker also participated.
Strongest position: Offensive line
Key returnees: All five starters return in Andrew Datko, Rodney Hudson, Ryan McMahon, David Spurlock and Zebrie Sanders.
Key departures: Backup Brandon Davis has decided to graduate and move on instead of returning for his fifth season. He stared in place of Hudson the last two games of the regular season.
The skinny: This group will finally have seniors in McMahon and Hudson, and collectively there are 142 career starts between the five returning starters. Last year, all five of Florida State’s offensive linemen were nominated by opposing ACC coaches for all-conference honors. Assistant Rick Trickett said he’s never had that happen to one of his groups before. Sanders and Rhonne Sanderson are both injured. Sanders will be fine by summer camp and Sanderson is limited this spring after foot surgery.
Weakest position: Secondary
Key returnees: CB Ochuko Jenije
Key departures: CB Patrick Robinson, FS Jamie Robinson, RV Korey Mangum
The skinny: Aside from Jenije, the only returning starter, no one in the secondary has played more than one season. There are high expectations for cornerback Greg Reid, who will get a long look this spring to replace Patrick Robinson. Redshirt freshman Xavier Rhodes will also get a chance there. Terrance Parks and Nick Moody were both the backups at safety last year, and they’ll get an opportunity to move up. Redshirt freshmen Justin Bright and Gerald Demps will also challenge at safety.
Quarterback: The Eagles can’t afford to be in another situation where nobody on the roster has had a snap of collegiate experience like they were heading into 2009. This is the class where coach Frank Spaziani can build the future of the program at this position.
Running back: Montel Harris is one of the best running backs in the ACC, but he’s not invincible. After the transfer of backup Josh Haden midway through last season, the Eagles were forced to depend on Harris and only Harris. It’s time to bring in some help.
Wide receiver: BC will graduate three seniors from the two-deep in Justin Jarvis, Clarence Megwa and record-setter Rich Gunnell. Quarterback Dave Shinskie will be better in Year 2, but now he’ll have to help usher in a new supporting cast.
Wide receiver: The Tigers will have to replace standout Jacoby Ford in 2010, but they’ll also have to prepare for the losses of Xavier Dye and Terrance Ashe, who will be seniors in 2010. It was a position of concern heading into 2009 and will be again.
Defensive backs: Two of the most experienced starting cornerbacks in the conference -- Chris Chancellor and Crezdon Butler -- have to be replaced, but the staff also has to look ahead. Next year, the Tigers will lose All-American safety DeAndre McDaniel, free safety Marcus Gilchrist and cornerback Byron Maxwell.
Linebacker: FSU’s biggest loss here will be Dekoda Watson, but two other players on the two-deep are juniors. The Noles were hurting at every position defensively, and while the bulk of players return, they need an overall upgrade in talent.
Defensive line: Save for defensive end Markus White, who will be a senior, and Budd Thacker, who will have to be replaced, this was a relatively young group. Still, the Noles struggled to stop the run and fluster quarterbacks most of the season, and it all starts up front.
Secondary: FSU will lose cornerback Patrick Robinson, Korey Mangum and Jamie Robinson. The addition of Lamarcus Joyner should give this unit an immediate boost.
Secondary: Three starters -- Anthony Wiseman, Jamari McCollough and Terrell Skinner -- were all seniors, and standout Nolan Carroll, who was injured, will also have to be replaced. It’s time to usher in the next wave of talent here.
Linebackers/ends: The staff needs to find players here who can better fit defensive coordinator Don Brown’s scheme. Some of those linebackers could end up being defensive end/hybrid players, but the Terps need some speed off the edge.
Linemen: The Pack will lose three starters on the offensive line and all four on the defensive line. Those positions are what almost half of the staff’s commitment list is comprised of so far, and the depth at those positions had to be completely rebuilt under Tom O’Brien. Some junior college transfers could help.
Halfback: With the news that Toney Baker decided to forgo his sixth year of eligibility, and the graduation of fifth-year senior Jamelle Eugene, it couldn’t hurt the Pack to start to reload at this position.
Offensive line: Seven members on the two-deep roster were redshirt seniors in 2009, and one, starting center Russell Nenon, was a redshirt junior. Three starters will have to be replaced in 2010.
Tight end: This position will be very thin, but the staff has added two in this year’s recruiting class. Wake could also help itself by adding a fullback or two to help with the blocking.
Linebackers: It was a unit comprised mainly of redshirt seniors and juniors in 2009, so the Deacs will have immediate holes there, as well as the need to restock for the future.
Consider the momentum shifted.
Florida State's running game should be one thing it can count on. Jimbo Fisher needs to keep things simple for rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel, and with a veteran offensive line and talented running backs, it will help take some pressure off of Manuel. So far he's completed 50 percent of his passes. The best defense for Noel Devine and Co. in this game is to keep them off the field, and FSU will need to run the ball and control the clock to do that.
Had Jarmon Fortson’s play in the end zone on the very last play of the season opener against Miami been ruled a catch, who knows what different turn this season might have taken for the Noles? They would have been 3-0 with a huge upset of No. 7 BYU heading into their home game against South Florida. Instead, the Noles went on a three-game losing streak heading into their Thursday night date with North Carolina, and a closed-door meeting of high-ranking university officials in October signaled a desire for change.
But Florida State’s impressive comeback win against North Carolina helped keep the postseason possibility alive. Despite one of the country’s worst defenses, the announced retirement of defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews, and the season-ending injury to standout quarterback Christian Ponder, Florida State was able to beat Wake Forest on Nov. 14 to inch within one win of bowl eligibility with two games remaining. An ugly home win over Maryland sealed the deal, but the season ended on a sour note with an embarrassing 37-10 drubbing by rival Florida in the Swamp, and the announcement of Bowden’s resignation two days later.
Offensive MVP: Quarterback Christian Ponder: Despite missing the final three games with a shoulder injury, Ponder still leads the ACC in passing average per game, and is fourth in passing efficiency. He completed a league-best 68.8 percent of his passes for 2,717 yards, 14 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He is No. 18 in the country in passing efficiency and No. 3 in total offense.
Defensive MVP: Free safety Jamie Robinson: He was the most consistently good player on a defense that struggled consistently, and he put up career-best numbers. Robinson was the team’s third leading tackler with 74, had one sack, three interceptions, and eight passes defended. He also had one forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Turning point: The 41-28 win at Wake Forest snapped a three-game losing streak to the Deacs, and it showed a group effort that supported the first career start of backup quarterback E.J. Manuel. The win was key in extending the Seminoles’ season.
What’s next: Offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher has already begun to make his staff changes, and Bowden said he will clean out his office soon. It’s Fisher’s team now, and his many tasks include recruiting, reuniting the fan base, and beat Florida. First, though, FSU will try to bid Bowden farewell with a win over West Virginia in the Gator Bowl.
CLEMSON, S.C. -- About those turnovers. Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker threw a costly one in the first quarter, as FSU's Jamie Robinson returned an interception 52 yards for a touchdown for a 17-6 lead. Mickey Andrews threw his hands in the air in celebration, and it's about time his defense gave him something to cheer for.
So far, the Noles have done a good job of containing C.J. Spiller and putting pressure on Parker. That interception was his mistake, though, as he had a receiver wide open. It's those kinds of plays that will be the difference in this game.
With a 2-4 overall record and an 0-3 start in conference play, the Seminoles are off to their worst start since Bobby Bowden took over the program in 1976. The problems run deeper, though, than the defense, which is No. 11 in the conference in scoring defense behind Duke. Outstanding performances by quarterback Christian Ponder have been overshadowed this season by the defensive ineptitude and swirl of controversy surrounding Bowden. Heading into the Georgia Tech game, one of the most difficult offenses to prepare for in a week’s time, university officials, boosters and trustees were more concerned about the future of the program under Bowden than they were about winning on Saturday and turning things around on the field. Now, instead of winning the Atlantic Division like they were picked by the media to do this past summer, Florida State will face an uphill battle just making it to a bowl game. Regardless of how FSU finishes this season, it could be Bowden’s last.
Offensive MVP: Christian Ponder. He leads the ACC and ranks sixth nationally in total offense. Had his team been in contention for, well, anything, Ponder would most certainly be in the national spotlight. He leads the ACC in passing yards (1,782), completions (147) and attempts (217). He has thrown only one interception this year, the fewest in the league by a starter. He enters the UNC game with an ACC-leading current streak of 197 consecutive pass attempts without an interception.
Defensive MVP: Jamie Robinson. In a secondary desperate for leadership, Robinson has filled that role, and he’s in the midst of his best season as a full-time starter at free safety. He is second on the team with a career-high 35 tackles, and he has four pass breakups and one sack. Although he hasn’t had any interceptions yet, Robinson has been spread thin, helping carry a few others, but he’s one player whose effort hasn’t been questioned.
n said. "He kind of looked like he had solidified the job and then he opens it up again." Defensive back Eric Franklin, a true freshman, made a scrimmage-best eight tackles and picked off Turner on the sixth possession. MIAMI The Canes wrapped up their final two-a-day of fall camp on Sunday, and coach Randy Shannon said everything -- that's right, everything -- is still up for grabs. Jorge Milian of the Palm Beach Post had a couple of notes for you off Sunday's practice. Morning Practice Highlights -- (pads) Joe Joseph and Marcus Robinson each had a sack in 11-on-11 drills. Randy Phillips (INT, pass break-up) and DeMarcus Van Dyke (two pass break-ups) stood out in the secondary. Lee Chambers and Damien Berry each broke off a couple runs of 15+ yards. Javarris James caught several passes in both 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 sessions Afternoon Practice Highlights -- (shells) Sam Shields (red zone), Chavez Grant (7-on-7) and C.J. Holton (11-on-11) all recorded interceptions. Grant returned his for a touchdown while Holton caught his off a tipped pass. A.J. Highsmith connected with Tommy Streeter (11-on-11) and LaRon Byrd (7-on-7) for significant yardage. Damien Berry took a short pass in the flat from Taylor Cook for a long gain. Other highlights include a near interception by Randy Phillips, a pass break-up by Ramon Buchanan and a sack by Micanor Regis. Red zone touchdowns included Jacory Harris to Richard Gordon and Taylor Cook to Jimmy Graham. VIRGINIA TECH So ... add Ryan Williams to the list of VT running backs who are banged up. Williams sprained his ankle, and Josh Oglesby has "the worst infection" coach Billy Hite has ever seen on a foot. Also, the coaches want to redshirt Logan Thomas, and Kenny Lewis Jr.'s recovery has been delayed. Not a lot of happy news coming out of Blacksburg these days. To read Virginia Tech's entire scrimmage report, click here. Tyrod Taylor completed 8 of 11 passes for 78 yards. Xavier Boyce led all receivers with two catches for 47 yards. Freshman running back Tony Gregory rushed 18 times for 48 yards and two touchdowns. Williams rushed just five times for 22 yards before spraining his ankle and sitting out the rest of the scrimmage. He did score on a 4-yard run and he returned several punts. Matt Waldron was 4-for-4 on his field goal attempts. (31, 32, 43, 30) Defensive tackle Cordarrow Thompson led the defense with seven tackles, four for a loss, and one sack.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Here's your daily dose of practice reports from around the ACC, as reported by each school's information office:
Cloud cover kept the temperature from climbing Thursday morning as the Florida State football team donned full pads for the first time this preseason. It didn't take long, however, for the action to heat up as the Seminoles' offense made the lion's share of big plays.
Of course, a big day for the offense also comes with drawbacks.
"The hitting was pretty good, but too many big plays popped out of there," said FSU coach Bobby Bowden. "As a head coach you don't know who to root for, your defense or your offense. It scares me when big plays come out of there."
Quarterback Christian Ponder connected on long passes with wideouts Jarmon Fortson, Rodney Smith and Taiwan Easterling, as well as tight end Caz Piurowski, during the first five-minute period of 11-on-11 work.
"A lot of that came against the blitz and we've been working on that all week," Ponder said, offering a hint at the developing mindset on offense. "The blitz for us means big plays and that's what we've been working on and things opened up.
"We definitely didn't have enough big plays last year and stretch the field as much as we wanted to. Things are starting to open up and that's a good thing."
It should come as no surprise that Ponder had ample time to step up in the pocket created by the seasoned offensive line and deliver the football. Improving pass protection has been a point of emphasis since the conclusion of last season.
Junior center Ryan McMahon, who helps anchor the unit along with guard Rodney Hudson, was encouraged by the performance of the unit in its first real test of the preseason.
"Overall we felt we had a better practice today than we did the other day, but I'm sure there's plenty of room for us to improve," McMahon said. "Everybody's attitude was good and it was fun."
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Here are the reports that came in from Wednesday's practices around the league, as reported by each school's sports information office:
Clemson had its second day of two-a-day practices on Wednesday. The Tigers worked for two hours and 15 minutes in the morning and for an hour and a half in the evening.
Much of the day was spent reviewing the film from Tuesday's scrimmage and correcting mistakes. Coach Dabo Swinney felt better about his team after watching the film on Tuesday afternoon and evening.
"We played better than I thought," said Swinney. "I was very disappointed with the penalties [on offense] and a lack of attention to detail immediately after the scrimmage. And I still feel that way about those mistakes. But after watching the film we played better overall than I thought."
Swinney was impressed with the performance of his defense after the scrimmage on Tuesday and he was still happy with that performance on Wednesday.
"We have a chance to be pretty salty on defense. I look out there and really can't tell the difference between the units. I was talking to Jamie Cumbie yesterday and he said it doesn't make any difference who starts, they are just waiting to have their name called.
"There is great depth on the defensive front and the secondary. The linebackers are doing well also. I was really impressed with Kavell Conner's performance on Tuesday. He has had a terrific preseason."
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- There were two big plays that stood out to coach Bobby Bowden at Tuesday morning's practice -- a long catch by tight end Beau Reliford, and an interception by safety Jamie Robinson.
For Reliford, though, big plays are something new -- and so is how the Noles might use the tight end position this fall.
Because the fullback position is so thin this year, Bowden said they're looking at using one of two tight ends as more of an h-back this fall, but it's a decision they won't make until they start to scrimmage.
"We've got two walk-ons out there," Bowden said. "Now once we start scrimmaging, if we find out they'll hit, if they really hit, we can utilize them. Now if they don't, we're working our tight ends there. They've responded pretty good to that. They don't look bad back there."
Reliford said it's "kind of weird" lining up as an h-back, but he was also spread out wide today. He said he's much more confident this year because he spent so much time in the offseason studying the playbook.
"I feel much more comfortable than I did last year," Reliford said. "I have my confidence back now. Last year I felt like my confidence went down because I wasn't really playing and getting the job done and improving like I wanted to. Now I feel like I'm ready to play."
The 6-foot-7, 241-pound Reliford came to Florida State as a two-sport athlete (basketball and football), and was the MVP of Florida's 5A state championship game with 21 points and nine rebounds for Dillard High in Ft. Lauderdale. It wasn't until his junior year in high school that Reliford started playing football, which is why is progress was slow last season as a true freshman. He played in four games and caught the only pass of his career -- an eight-yard reception -- in his first collegiate game against Western Carolina.
"He's grown up a lot as a football player," quarterback Christian Ponder said. "He's running great routes. Last year he was basically a basketball player just being an athlete out there. Now he really understands what he's doing. He looks good. He should be making a lot of plays this year."
He already is.
"He makes plays every day," said offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher. "He's learning every day. He makes a few mistakes, but the guy makes plays. He's going to be a good -- I mean a really good football player. He's got a chance to be. He's got to get consistency, but he's got a chance to be a really good football player."
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
FSU two-sport athlete D'Vontrey Richardson will sign a minor leauge contract with the Brewers as early as today, according to the Albany Herald.
I think it's safe to say many of us saw this coming since Richardson was drafted in the fifth round, and seemed to be leaning toward leaving at his last press conference. But who could have predicted BC would recruit a minor leaguer and FSU would lose one? It's bizarro world in the ACC.
The Noles will be just fine, though, without Richardson at safety or quarterback. He wasn't even at spring practices, so how much was he really going to help? Safety Jamie Robinson will be one of the veteran leaders in the secondary, Korey Mangum moved to rover in the spring with the hopes of replacing Myron Rolle, and Terrance Parks can line up anywhere.
I'm eager to see how E.J. Manuel fares, mainly because he was Jimbo Fisher's first hand-picked quarterback as offensive coordinator. Christian Ponder told me at ACC media day that Manuel is "100 percent, throwing the ball well," and participated in all of the seven-on-sevens.
"He's starting to make the reads," Ponder said. "He's getting comfortable, I can tell. Two-a-days are going to do him a lot of good. He's going to be a heck of a player."
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
The progress Florida State's defense has made this spring could be measured statistically in Saturday's Garnet and Gold game -- five fumble recoveries and two interceptions.
Defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews called it the "best job all spring" for turnovers.
"We started slow -- couldn't get a turnover," Andrews said of the defense this spring. "Then we started getting a couple of them. We started getting a few fumbles. We got one interception in the last scrimmage and we got two this scrimmage. Not that that's enough, but it's twice as many as we had in the previous scrimmage. Turnovers, when you get the offense the ball in a short field, you've got a great chance. ... We just have to get better fundamentally and learn how to step it up a notch."
Florida State ranked 62nd nationally in turnover margin last year and 85th with only nine passes intercepted.
Tasked with replacing Myron Rolle and Tony Carter, who combined for 85 career starts, Florida State's secondary was one of the Noles' biggest questions marks this spring. Patrick Robinson and Jamie Robinson, two seniors, have been the veteran leaders of the group. Outside of Patrick Robinson, who has seven career interceptions -- six of which came in 2007, the secondary has combined for one career interception (Jamie Robinson).
Jamie Robinson, who is in his second season at safety and said he feels more comfortable out there, proved it on Saturday with two interceptions.
"We have been lacking in interceptions for the past couple of years," Robinson said. "Generally, whenever a defense doesn't have a lot of interceptions, that falls on the secondary. So, as a secondary, we've been taking that personally and really embraced that challenge and tried to step up to the plate and answer that call of making more interceptions and causing more turnovers.
"It's real important for somebody to step up and take control and take on that leadership role, be able to give the guys some enthusiasm and inspiration to look to, something to feed off of out there on the field. It was real good to embrace that role and be there for the guys and make sure they're playing up to their potential every play."
The Noles appear to have taken steps in solidifying their starting lineup in the secondary this spring, with both Robinsons, Korey Mangum, who moved to rover, and Ochuko Jenije at field field corner. (Andrews, though, said Jenije is a "sometimes player" who has to learn to play every play. "Too many times he lets the receiver or the running back win the battle," Andrews said. "He's making progress.")
Former cornerback Terrance Parks has practiced at both rover and safety this spring, but sat out two days with a medical problem. Star recruit Dionte Allen has also been in the mix.
"We've got the four best players out there," Andrews said. "We don't have many two's that are challenging them. That's not good, because we like to play a lot of players. If we play Miami right now, we could play with four people. The other guys have got to decide they're going to get to the point where we could trust them enough to put them in the ball game. Right now, we couldn't trust 'em. It's not over, we've still got four days, the entire summer, so hopefully we can find them before we have to play Miami."
Overall, Andrews said he's confident with the first-team defense. It's the depth that remains a concern heading into summer camp.
"The first group is getting closer to having a chance to become a good defense," Andrews said. "We don't have enough guys on second team right now that you can put in a football game and say 'sic 'em.' They had to learn the terminology around here. They got 'sic 'em' and 'watch 'em' mixed up. A lot of them are freshmen and they've got to quit acting like freshmen. You've got to grow up sometime. But we've got three more days to see if we can't get a little better and hopefully we can get the progress we've got to have there."