TALLAHASSEE — Florida State QB Christian Ponder was back at practice Monday looking full-go for this weekend's showdown at Maryland.
"He took every rep," coach Jimbo Fisher said, "and threw the ball well."
Ponder could have played against Clemson; doctors medically cleared him Saturday after checking his right elbow. Ponder said what was initially thought to be a bursa sac injury was later diagnosed as a tear in the tissue surrounding the muscle that created a pocket where fluid could accumulate and cause the arm to swell. He said the doctors had seen that type of injury in a leg but not an arm. In surgery Nov. 8, doctors drained "like 500 CCs of fluid" and attached a tube for the drainage of "another 90 CCs" during the week.
"The procedure helped out a lot," he said. "What I did this time is trying to take it all out, give me rest, keep constant suction on it to get all the fluid out so the fascia would be able to heal back to the muscle. The doctor looked at it Friday, and he thinks it's healed back. I guess we won't fully know until I land on it again."
He injured the elbow against Boston College and reinjured it early against North Carolina, though he had his best statistical performance of the year in that loss. The day after "it was a lot worse than it was before," he said.
"I'm rested and healthy," said the fifth-year senior, who spent the Clemson game reminding Fisher of the plays redshirt sophomore QB EJ Manuel prefers, talking a bit to Manuel and trying to keep the other players on the bench motivated and focused. "I've just got to have a great week of practice and pick up where I left off."
Injury update: Junior TB Jermaine Thomas (right knee) probably won't play this weekend, but what looked to be a horrific hit did not result in any ligament tears, Fisher said after hearing the results of a MRI. Meanwhile, sophomore WR Willie Haulstead (mild concussion) should be okay, Fisher said, but was held out of Monday's practice as a precaution. "You've got to make sure you handle that right," he said.
Award talk: Sophomore PK Dustin Hopkins, who hit a 55-yard winning field goal as time expired against Clemson a week after missing in the final seconds against North Carolina, was named ACC specialist of the week. Manuel, who started for the first time this year and led his team to 10 fourth-quarter points in the 16-13 win, was named ACC offensive back of the week.
Game time unsettled: The FSU-Florida game Nov. 27 will kick off at 3:30 or 7 and will be on Ch. 28, ESPN or ESPN2.
Brian Landman, Times staff writer
USF: Lamar rising
TAMPA — USF sophomore Lindsey Lamar's 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in Saturday's overtime win against Louisville vaulted him to third nationally, averaging 30.8 yards per return.
It was Lamar's second kickoff-return touchdown this season, and he's one of five players in I-A to return two this season. Florida's Andre Debose is another.
The 100-yard return didn't get him on the Big East honor roll. Teammate Maikon Bonani earned a spot there after hitting 3 of 4 field goals, including the 37-yard winner.
The Big East special teams player of the week honor went to Syracuse K Ross Krautman, who hit a 48-yarder in the third quarter to tie Rutgers, then a 24-yarder with 1:07 left for a road win.
NOT WORKING: One national ranking the Bulls won't like to see is the team's rank in third-down conversion — 118th out of 120 I-A programs at just 28.2 percent, ahead of only Vanderbilt (2-8) and San Jose State (1-9).
The Bulls went 2-of-14 on third downs against Louisville. This week's opponent, Pittsburgh, held Connecticut to 3-of-14 on third down last week and lost 30-28.
Greg Auman, Times staff writer
UCF: Focus on Tulane
ORLANDO — UCF coach George O'Leary said his team won't overlook Tulane. The Knights (7-3 overall, 5-1 Conference USA) need to sweep road games against the Green Wave (3-6, 1-4 C-USA) Saturday and at Memphis (1-9, 0-6) Nov. 27 to clinch the conference Eastern Division and play in the league title game.
With two wins, the Knights also earn the right to host the conference title game.
"Life's a lot tougher now," O'Leary told his team after Saturday's loss to Southern Miss.
Tulane claimed a win at Rutgers this season and is coming off a 54-49 win over Rice.
"You put up 54 points, that's a lot," O'Leary said. "It's a much improved Tulane team."