The wait was worth it for Florida State defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews. After pushing and prodding his players to produce more turnovers all spring, Andrews finally saw some results in Saturday night's spring game. The Seminoles defense recovered five fumbles, returned one for a touchdown and intercepted a pass to defeat the offense 39-27.
The game featured a modified scoring format in which the offense and defense could score points based on a predetermined set of criteria.
"We challenged them to play the best they've ever played here in this stadium," Andrews said. "Some of them took us up on it."
The only touchdown scored by the first-team offense came on a 65-yard pass from Christian Ponder to Jarmon Fortson.
TBs Jermaine Thomas and Ty Jones were the stars of the first three weeks of spring practice, breaking off several dazzling runs. But both sophomores struggled Saturday — they combined for 61 yards on 16 carries.
Jones, in particular, had a woeful night. He fumbled four times, including one that LB Nigel Bradham scooped up and returned for a touchdown.
"It seemed like it might have been stage fright," coach Bobby Bowden said. "I saw some kids do things that they haven't done all spring."
Senior FS Jamie Robinson, right, started the turnover onslaught by snaring a pass that QB Christian Ponder intended for junior WR Louis Givens. He picked Ponder off again in situational drills after the main portion of the scrimmage.
"We needed these turnovers a lot," Robinson said. "Just to show that we're more than just a run-stopping defense. The last couple of years, we haven't been getting a lot of interceptions. So it was good for the defense to turn that around."
Robinson was inconsistent as a part-time starter last season, but defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews said the senior has made major strides in recent practices.
"Jamie had two great interceptions," Andrews said. "The last two scrimmages we've had, Jamie started to look like a safety."
Better now than later
Offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher was angry about the number of turnovers his unit committed, but he wasn't totally surprised. Although the offense has dominated for much of this spring, Fisher pointed out that several starters were playing for the first time in front of a crowd.
The attendance was estimated at 36,000.
"This was more of a game situation," Fisher said, "and it's better to find out now."
Not done yet
Although the spring game typically signifies the end of practice, Florida State will work out three more times this week. The schedule was adjusted to accommodate for spring break dates.