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As a frequent visitor to Warchant and the Tribal Council message boards, I've noticed quite a few questions and comments regarding Christian Ponder and E.J. Manuel.
Should Ponder sit out again this week to allow extra healing time for the Florida game? Should Ponder take the bench permanently in favor of Manuel? Should they share time?
To me, the answer is simple.
Christian Ponder is the quarterback.
He was named the starting quarterback last season and this season for a reason. He has proven that, when healthy, he deserves to be the starter, as he's the one with the most experience and the true leader of the team.
As for last week's win against Clemson, Manuel played a very solid game, which is a testament to both Manuel and the coaches for ensuring that everyone is prepared. The coaching staff crafted a perfect game plan that focused on Manuel's strengths, and he executed through the air and on the ground, most notably on the game-winning drive.
That said, I believe if Ponder is healthy this week, he needs to start and play the bulk of the game. I'm not a big believer in sharing time at the quarterback position. If the coaches devise a gameplan with Manuel to keep defenses off guard, I'm all for it. A defensive coordinators biggest fear is the unknown when game-planning for an opponent. But one of the keys to a quarterback's success is consistency and finding a rhythm. It's difficult for any quarterback at any level to find a groove when he's sharing reps and unsure when he'll be called off the field.
As for Ponder's legacy - another topic heavily debated in the Tribal Council - his contribution to Florida State should not be taken lightly. He's as solid of a quarterback that FSU has ever had. Unfortunately, injuries have always found a way to derail his progress. Before his season-ending injury last season, he was putting together, arguably, one of the best passing seasons in the nation.
When healthy, he's had great success. That's what his legacy needs to be. He's faced some injuries, played through some injuries and needs to be remembered as one of the toughest quarterbacks ever to have played at FSU.
As far as overcoming his elbow injury this season, the toughest part for a football player is the mental side of recovery. Physically, the body will respond and heal with rehab. Mentally, you have to block out any doubt and trust your body. The last thing you want to do is create hesitancy. You want to read and react.
Sitting out a game or two sometimes proves beneficial, allowing you to observe the game in a different way and leading to better on-field performance when returning. Plus, you have a growing hunger to return and not take anything for granted.
I fully anticipate that being the case with Ponder. Look for a strong end to his season, and career, at Florida State.
Speaking of mental toughness, congrats to Dustin Hopkins. The way he was able to overcome a crucial miss against North Carolina to hit the game-winning 55-yarder (!) against Clemson deserves serious applause.
Despite struggling against Cal, Oregon's offense is terrifying. Averaging more than 50 points per game, it is the most impressive offense I've seen in a long time. To run a hurry-up offense, you need great communication, discipline and preparation. We often ran the no-huddle during my years at FSU, but it was nowhere near as "hurry-up" as the Ducks' offense. It certainly helps to have a true dual-threat at quarterback and a Heisman Trophy candidate at running back.
My top five at the moment: 1) Oregon. 2) Auburn. 3) TCU. 4) Boise State. 5) Stanford.
My top five Heisman candidates: 1) Cam Newton. 2) LaMichael James. 3) Justin Blackmon. 4) Andrew Luck. 5) Kellen Moore.
One of the top players in college football history, Chris Weinke helped Florida State to an undefeated season and National Championship in 1999, followed by being awarded the Heisman Trophy in 2000. He's currently the Director of the IMG Madden Football Academy in Bradenton, Fla.