Make us your home page
Instagram

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

Ponder to start at QB for FSU

Christian Ponder has appeared in only one game for FSU.

Associated Press

Christian Ponder has appeared in only one game for FSU.

TALLAHASSEE — As Florida State attempts to regain its form of old, it will turn to a youngster at quarterback.

Redshirt sophomore Christian Ponder was named the starter for Saturday's opener against Western Carolina, beating out three-year starter and former Land O'Lakes High quarterback Drew Weather­ford and redshirt sophomore D'Vontrey Richardson. Freshman E.J. Manuel is expected to redshirt.

"I trusted my eyes and what I saw," said offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher, who made the call with the full support of coach Bobby Bowden. "Also, there's a gut feeling about things. Sometimes you have to push people out of the nest."

Ponder, 6 feet 2, 220 pounds, has appeared in just one game, taking over in the first half when Weatherford suffered a concussion at Virginia Tech last season. Although he made mistakes late in a 40-21 loss, he showed the ability to make plays, big plays, with a powerful arm and surprising speed against one of the nation's best defenses.

"That's when we began to suspect we might have something," Bowden said.

Fisher and Bowden have said Ponder improved markedly during the spring and preseason practices, offsetting Weatherford's wealth of experience. The fifth-year senior has 33 starts.

"I like all three quarterbacks," Fisher said. "It got down to the fit for the type of team we have; what we need."

To him, that meant Ponder, who missed a little practice time recently with a sore shoulder. He has the mobility to rescue a broken play, Fisher said, more so than Weatherford. And that's something that looms large with an inexperienced offensive line.

And he offers the promise of big plays. Although Weatherford decreased his interceptions from 11 to three last season, he threw just nine touchdowns. Richardson had only a couple of plays, and those were designed runs.

Fisher, who met with the three players individually Wednesday to tell them of his decision, said he doesn't plan to "yo-yo" quarterbacks. He prefers to go with one and give him a long leash.

"I've been wanting this for a long time; ever since I realized I could play at the college level," Ponder, 20, from Colleyville, Texas, said. "I always had dreams as a little kid of coming out here to play. Finally, the starting job's here. I have it, and I'm just going to take it and run with it. I'm excited."

Weatherford, 23, who lost the starting job at times during the 2006 and 2007 seasons, said: "Obviously, I am very disappointed in the decision. However, I am a team-first guy, and I am always willing to do whatever helps this team win; whether that's starting or helping from the sidelines.

"I am a 'Nole, and I want to win. I will be ready and able when my opportunity comes."

Times correspondent Ira Schoffel contributed to this report.

Ponder to start at QB for FSU 09/03/08 [Last modified: Friday, September 5, 2008 10:14am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series

    Ml

    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) throwing in the fifth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 12, 2015.
  2. Jones: Where are the difference-makers on the Bucs defense?

    Bucs

    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — They can't tackle. They can't cover. They can't pressure the quarterback, let alone sack him.

    Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) scrambles past Bucs defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (98) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  3. Bucs-Bills journal: Breakout game for Bucs tight end O.J. Howard

    Bucs

    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — It's obscured by the final score and a disappointing loss, but Bucs rookie tight end O.J. Howard had a breakout game Sunday, exceeding his season totals for catches and touchdowns in one afternoon.

    Bucs tight end O.J. Howard (80) celebrates a touchdown catch with quarterback Jameis Winston (3) during the second half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. Vladislav Namestnikov is Lightning's top-line 'secret'

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Nikita Kucherov is piling up the goals. Steven Stamkos is an assist machine. They make for an impressive pairing in a league that favors scoring pairs over the more traditional three-player scoring lines.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Vladislav Namestnikov (90) reacts after scoring during the third period of the game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla. on Friday, Oct. 6, 2017.
  5. Ex-Lightning forward Brian Boyle returns to practice after cancer diagnosis

    Lightning Strikes

    NEWARK, N.J. — Brian Boyle, diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia last month, was back on the ice with his Devils teammates Sunday after getting cleared to practice for the first time since his diagnosis.

    Brian Boyle has been diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, a type of bone-marrow cancer that the team's doctor says can be treated with medication, the Devils announced Tuesday. [AP photo]