Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

FSU Seminoles quarterback Ponder performs well in clutch third-down situations

ORLANDO — Coach Bobby Bowden pointed to one key statistic from the 42-13 Champs Sports Bowl win against Wisconsin to support his assessment of Christian Ponder's development.

Under the third-year sophomore QB, the offense converted nine of 15 third downs.

"Third downs are for the quarterback," Bowden said Saturday night. "The quarterback has to make third down and he was making it time and time again."

For offensive coordinator/QB coach Jimbo Fisher, Ponder's defining third-down play came midway through the third quarter. FSU needed 19 yards to move the chains, and Ponder hit senior WR Greg Carr for 20.

"That was the biggest play of the game," said Fisher, who added that Ponder could have hit a few more but praised his overall consistency and lack of costly mistakes. "As soon as we got that play, you feel on the sideline a confidence."

Senior TB Antone Smith capped the 16-play, 85-yard drive that used 7:43 with a touchdown run for a 21-6 lead.

"Once we opened the door, we didn't stop," Ponder, 20, said. "It definitely feels good to end it on this note and leave a good taste in our mouth going into the offseason. There's still a ton of things I have to improve on, but it feels good to end it on this kind of game."

Jones re-emerges: An ankle injury kept freshman TB Ty Jones on the sideline for much of the season, but the former Middleton High star made the most of his opportunity Saturday. He had four carries for a team-high 55 yards, including his first collegiate touchdown on a 14-yard burst.

He had seven carries for 44 yards entering the bowl.

"Coming into the game, I didn't really know if I was going to play a lot," Jones said. "But I came in and got a couple carries and I'm going to build off of this and take it into next year."

"Jermaine Thomas is a tremendous player but I've always said that Ty Jones is one, too," said Fisher of his two freshmen. "(Saturday) was huge for him to realize the player he can be at the level he can be it at."

The one complaint was on his scoring run. Jones celebrated by holding the ball skyward as he crossed the goal line, drawing a 15-yard penalty for unsportsman-like conduct.

"I was just so excited," he said.

Brown delivers: With his sack early in the fourth quarter, redshirt junior DE Everette Brown finished his season with 13.5, tying Reinard Wilson for third on the single-season list. Brown's 23 career sacks ties him for fifth in FSU history with Andre Wadsworth and Alonzo Jackson.

He continues to say he hasn't made up his mind whether to return. "What decision?" he said, laughing. "I'm going to drive up to North Carolina and enjoy the holidays with my family, something I haven't had the chance to do yet."

He said it: "It was hard getting that sod out; it wasn't easy." — PK/P Graham Gano, the game MVP selected to use scissors to cut out a chunk of the field to bury at FSU's "Sod Cemetery."

FSU Seminoles quarterback Ponder performs well in clutch third-down situations 12/28/08 [Last modified: Sunday, December 28, 2008 8:27pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Fennelly: This season's Chris Archer is a pleasure to watch

    The Heater


    At this time last season, through 10 starts, Rays pitcher Chris Archer was 3-5 on his way to 9-19.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, May 21, 2017.
  2. Bucs' O.J. Howard ends big day with BP, first pitch for Rays


    Bucs tight end O.J. Howard is known for his athleticism at 6-foot-6, 251-pounds. As an outfielder, he took his Autuaga Academy High School baseball team to the state tournament in Alabama as a junior.

    On Monday, after a little instruction from Steven Souza, Jr., the left-handed hitting Howard started making …

  3. Arm problems in the past, USF rides pitching into AAC baseball tournament


    TAMPA — By his second relief inning in last year's season opener, USF right-hander Ryan Valdes had lost the fizz on his fastball.

    USF senior right-hander Ryan Valdes, an Alonso High alumnus, is one of three prominent Bulls pitchers flourishing after undergoing Tommy John surgery last year. [USF Athletics]
  4. Ryan Fitzpatrick likes Bucs weapons, believes he's a good fit


    Ryan Fitzpatrick’s experience playing for six other NFL teams is what made him attractive to the Bucs as a backup to starter Jameis Winston. But if he has to play, the former Jets quarterback is happy about all the weapons on Tampa Bay’s offense.

    Ryan Fitzpatrick is happy about all the weapons on Tampa Bay’s offense.
  5. For starters: Rays vs. Angels and Trout, with Odorizzi on mound


    After losing Sunday's game but winning a third straight series, the Rays open a four-game series tonight against the Angels and Mike Trout.

    RHP Jake Odorizzi will be on the mound for the Rays, RHP J.C. Ramirez for the Angels.

    Evan Longoria is getting a DH day, so the Rays have rookie Daniel …

    Jake Odorizzi will be on the mound for the Rays.