College Sports | WCTV Eyewitness News: Tallahassee, Thomasville, Valdosta

Florida State Lines Face Stiff Challenge From Tigers

By: FSU Sports Communications
By: FSU Sports Communications

Tallahassee, FL - Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher would like nothing more than for his offensive and defensive lines to rise to the challenge Saturday against Clemson. Winning the war in the trenches will go a long way toward determining the outcome in the critical ACC Atlantic Division game at Doak Campbell Stadium.

Led by defensive end Da’Quan Bowers, who leads the nation in sacks and tackles for loss, the Tigers will provide a formidable challenge for an FSU offensive front that is coming off a solid effort against North Carolina. Beyond Bowers, who ranks right in front of FSU sophomore end Brandon Jenkins in behind-the-line productivity, the Tigers also boast a pair of stout interior linemen in Brandon Thompson and Jarvis Jenkins.

“This is the best front (FSU has faced),” said Fisher. “I don’t want to take away from anybody else, but you talk about three guys who are going to make money? Those are next-level guys.”

With 12.5 sacks and 20 tackles for loss, Bowers is the linchpin of the unit, and not always the easiest guy to identify. Clemson moves him between both end positions, which will provide a test for FSU junior tackles Andrew Datko and Zebrie Sanders.

“He’s as good as any we’ve played against, because he can transition from speed to power, power to speed,” Fisher said. “He’s very athletic and mobile.”

FSU senior guard Rodney Hudson and senior center Ryan McMahon bring 91 career starts worth of experience into the battle, and anchor an interior that will include sophomore guard Rhonne Sanderson in the starting lineup for a second consecutive week.

“The offensive line has a huge challenge in front of them,” Fisher added.

Of course, so will the defensive front, which is facing the ACC’s second-most experienced offensive line unit.

“It’s going to be huge up front – both (lines),” Fisher said following Monday’s practice. “We’re going to have to get physical up front on the defensive line and dominate up there, and we’ve got to get physical on the offensive line to run and pass.”

Ponder status remains unchanged

As expected, FSU senior quarterback Christian Ponder sat out Tuesday’s practice, just a day after undergoing a procedure to drain fluid from his passing elbow related to a ruptured bursa sack.

Fisher said he is not going to put himself in a corner when it comes to determining Ponder’s status for Saturday’s game. He was pleased to see that much of the swelling has dissipated since doctors inserted a drain to help release the fluid.

“If it was his call, he’d have it ripped out and be out there (at practice),” Fisher said. “We’re not going to do anything to jeopardize him, what’s best for our team and who can win the game. It looked really good today.”

Fisher emerged from Tuesday’s workout confident that sophomore EJ Manuel can handle the task if Ponder is not able to go against the Tigers.

“He had a solid day; a nice day,” Fisher said of Manuel. “They’re similar. We’re still doing the same things. He knows the offense and they’re similar type players.”

Ponder leads CPR registration drive

While Ponder’s playing status may be in limbo, his standing as a community service leader is unquestioned. On Sunday, Ponder will be leading an effort by the student-athlete drive Red Cross Noles group to certify students and community members alike in CPR. It’s all a part of Super CPR Day, which will be held at Dick Howser Stadium from 5-7 p.m. Proceeds from the event will got to the American Red Cross.

“Every 32 seconds, someone in the U.S. dies from cardiac or respiratory related illness,” said Ponder, who also serves as the president of the Red Cross Noles, an FSU service organization dedicated to the Red Cross mission. “By preparing students and community members with CPR skills, more lives will ultimately be saved.” Ponder, will be on hand to serve as master of ceremonies for the event.

Sponsors of the highly anticipated event include Tallahassee Memorial Heart & Vascular Center, Leon County EMS, Southeastern School of Health Sciences and WCTV. Over 500 local students and other community members are expected to receive adult CPR certification.

“After attending the event, you will have the power to save a life,” said Ponder. “Knowing how to perform CPR is an essential life skill that everyone should have. Everyone attending Super CPR Day will leave and be equipped to perform CPR and save a life.”

The pre-registration fee is $15. Registration the day of the event is $20. Attendees will receive a free t-shirt and refreshments. CPR classes are from 5 pm to 7 pm with registration beginning at 4 pm. For more information and to pre-register, please visit www.tallyredcross.com.


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