Spring Game Wrap: Defense gets the upper hand

Jamie Robinson picks off two passes and the defense recovered five fumbles.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The talk all spring has been about the offense's success against a young and banged up Seminole defense. All that talk seemed to have gotten the attention of Mickey Andrew's group. Thanks to five fumble
recoveries, two Jamie Robinson interceptions and a Nigel Bradham touchdown, the Gold squad downed the Garnet team 39-27 in the annual Garnet & Gold game
Saturday in Doak Campbell Stadium.
"That was an interesting thing tonight," said head coach Bobby Bowden.
"Right off the bat you had two bad snaps, that's not supposed to happen. We
had eight fumbles. (Carlton Jones) had five that I counted. Eight fumbles
you won't beat anybody.
"Jamie Robinson I thought had a good game back there in secondary. Got an
interception, he had two then. I guess the biggest surprise was our
secondary. They've been getting ripped pretty good this spring. They were
most active tonight I've seen them, that is a good sign. I thought the
defense won the battle."
Both of Robinson's interceptions were highlight reel material and he was the
star in the secondary but it was Bradham's 45-yard return of a Christian Ponder fumble that turned out to be the biggest play of the night. The five
fumbles lost by the offense were a surprise considering that had not been an
issue for most of the spring leading up to Saturday.
"It feels good to make a play like that every now and then," said
Bradham. "When you do your thing to motivate the team it gives them
intensity and encourages them to go out and make plays as well. It felt real
"Why were all those dadgum fumbles," said Bowden. "Now of course defense knocked some of those out of there, defense knocked. But I saw some of the kids doing things that they haven't done all spring, which I would
think probably a crowd in their pressing, that's what you don't want, but
that's why it's good to have that game."
After posting eye-popping yards per play numbers in the previous scrimmages,
the defense did an excellent job of limiting the offense on Saturday holding
the Garnet team to just five yards per play. Ponder was 10-of-19 for 118
yards, most of which came on a 65-yard strike to Jarmon Fortson early in the scrimmage.
"(Ponder) struggled, not I think some of it was our receivers had a hard
time getting open," said Bowden. "They got more pressure on him tonight I
think they have all spring. I didn't feel like he was sharp. He was sharp on
some passes but I saw other times when a man was open big and he missed him.
We had dropped passes at inopportune times. If you're gonna find out those
things out, it's good to find them out against yourselves."
"I just need to go back and re-focus, I think I didn't do enough
and obviously I think I let some stuff affect me...this is the first
game-type environment in a while and so I wasn't ready," said Ponder. "I
wasn't ready and these next three days I gotta overcome it and watch the
film and learn from those things."
There was only one other offensive touchdown on the evening and
that came on a 31-yard strike from Corey Eddinger to Cameron Wade. He and Fortson combined for 106 of the Gold team's 236 total receiving yards.
Fortson led the way with four catches for 75 yards while Rod Owens, Bert Reed and Richard Goodman were the only other players with more than one
"I think the one's came out and started off alright, I had a couple good drives and a touchdown," said Ponder. "I mean just the turnovers killed us, and then I think we started letting stuff pile on top of us, and
towards the end we got in and over our heads and let stuff affect us a
little bit. We got three days to fix it for us this spring, and we'll have
to overcome it come August."
The turnovers started early for the offense. On just the third
pass of the day Robinson snatched his first interception on a 3rd-and-13
pass intended for Louis Givens. On the next play Ponder went deep to Fortson
but on six of the next 27 offensive snaps there was a fumble with the
defense falling on five.
"Some of them were on our own, and some of them we just fell on,
but they still count," said defensive coordinator Mickey Andres. "I felt
like we had a much better effort. We challenged them to play their best when
playing in this stadium. Some of them took it to heart. Got a few breaks,
but we also made more than we have all spring too. I think there were a
couple great interceptions and several fumbles. You got a good chance of
winning if you can do that."
"Coach Andrews makes it our goal to make turnovers, and we have
been kind of lacking on that throughout this whole spring," said Robinson.
"It got brought up in a report that the DB's have had only had one pick this
spring, so we just tried to go out there and really focus on causing
turnovers a little more and get the defense going."
The other area where Andrews saw a huge improvement was with his run defense. Despite missing Kendrick Stewart, Budd Thacker and Dekoda Watson, the Seminole offense averaged just two yards per rush gaining 59 yards on 29 carries.
"I feel like we played pretty good," said Bradham. "Today was a
good day for us. We made a couple stops. We gave up a couple plays, but came
right back around and made big plays ourselves. I feel like we were pretty
motivated and kind of dominated tonight."
"I think so, I think yeah, I mean they pretty much dominated all
night, so it was definitely, I think, their best performance this spring,
and I mean they look pretty good," said Ponder of his teammates on the
defensive side.
Unlike springs in the past, Saturday night's Garnet & Gold game
does not signal the end of practice. The Seminoles are scheduled to practice
three more days next week and will continue to keep you
updated on all things FSU.