Atlanta, GA - The Chick-fil-A Bowl activity slate continued in high gear for Florida State Wednesday as the Seminoles held a morning practice at the Georgia Dome, visited the Scottish Rite Hospital and took part in a milkshake making challenge against South Carolina. Offensive line coach Rick Trickett, defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, All-American guard Rodney Hudson and linebacker Kendall Smith all took part in a press conference.
The Seminoles practiced for nearly two hours Wednesday morning in just shorts and helmets.
“This was a typical Thursday,” said Florida State Head Coach Jimbo Fisher. “It was a good day. We were sharp mentally, attentive. … I’m anxious to see how we play.”
Senior quarterback Christian Ponder continued to look sharp. Ponder, who didn’t go through bowl practices in Tallahassee, hasn’t missed one day of practice since the team arrived in Atlanta.
“He threw the ball really well,” said Fisher of Ponder. “Him and (Manuel) had a lot of zip on the ball today. With Christian, it was like he was fully healthy and zipping it around big-time. I think it took a couple of days to get back in the mold of it and just playing again, and practicing.”
Ponder’s last outing for the Seminoles was a memorable one. He completed 16-of-24 passes for 221 yards and three touchdowns in FSU’s 31-7 win over rival Florida. Fisher is optimistic that Ponder will be guiding the FSU offense come Saturday.
“We’ll talk about it again tonight and decide on some things, but there’s a very, very good chance he’s going to start,” said Fisher. “With the other guy you’re in great shape, too.”
Following practice, 20 Seminoles accompanied Fisher to the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite for a visit with patients. Joining Fisher were QB Christian Ponder, DB Chad Colley, OG Rodney Hudson, LB Kendall Smith, PK Dustin Hopkins, WR Rodney Smith, OT Andrew Datko, OG Ryan McMahon, DT Everett Dawkins, DE Markus White, RB Chris Thompson, QB EJ Manuel, RB Lonnie Pryor, S Ochuko Jenije, CB Xavier Rhodes, WR Willie Haulstead, WR Bert Reed, DT Anthony McCloud, DB Dennis Johnson, S Terrance Parks, WR, Taiwan Easterling and S Nick Moody.
“You don’t understand as a role model what you can do for someone’s life by walking in, touching them and spending time with them,” said Fisher. “Those kids all know who these guys are and what they can do. It’s part of being an athlete. They say we’re not role models, but we are. You’re a hero for a lot of kids. That’s who you are and that’s a responsibility you have to accept. … That’s a great honor for us.”
After the hospital visit, FSU players and staff took part in a Chick-fil-A Milkshake party at the Marriott Marquis. FSU’s starting offensive line of Rodney Hudson, Zebrie Sanders, Ryan McMahon, Andrew Datko and Bryan Stork competed in a milkshake making contest against South Carolina’s starting offensive line. The Seminoles beat out the Gamecocks making five milkshakes in 3:07.56 minutes – 17 seconds faster than South Carolina’s 3:24.21.
The Seminoles will treat Thursday like a normal Friday before a Saturday game holding a light walkthrough. There is one more team competition slated for Thursday afternoon as the teams will battle in Family Feud.
Ponder a finalist for Bowden Award
Florida State senior quarterback Christian Ponder is one of three finalists for the eighth annual Bobby Bowden Award, presented by The Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The award – named in honor of the legendary Seminoles’ head coach - goes to the Football Bowl Subdivision player who epitomizes the student-athlete, by conducting himself as a faith model in the community, classroom and on the field. Nominees must carry a 3.0 GPA and have the support of the school’s director of athletics and head football coach.
Ponder and fellow finalists, TCU quarterback Andy Dalton and Vanderbilt linebacker John Stokes, will attend the BCS National Championship game in Glendale and the winner will be announced at the Jan. 8 FCA Breakfast.
Offensive coordinator James Coley and his wife Kenia are the proud parents of a son Brady Nicolas Coley who was born Wednesday morning in Miami. Brady weighed in at eight pounds and 11 ounces … With the FSU win in the milkshake making challenge, Battle of the Bowl is now tied, 2-2 … For more FSU Chick-fil-A Bowl coverage including video from Wednesday’s events, visit www.seminoles.com later this evening.
More from Wednesday:
On defensive success – especially the improvement in sacks:
“I think the coverage helped the rush and the rush helped the coverage at times.”
“We’re still a very young football team in a lot of ways on both sides of the football. I think there are some great players on defense. I think there are some really good ones on offense, too. There are some really good players on defense who can really explode and have some great careers on the next level, once they understand what they’re doing and getting to the level of play they need to get to.”
Does the youth reflect in the teams’ personality?
“It is a little bit. … You worry about young guys when they have success, sometimes they say ignorance is bliss. Sometimes when you’re young you just listen to what the coach says and do it; just work your tail off and good things happen to you. That kind of benefited us too.”
LB NIGEL BRADHAM:
On the offensive weapons South Carolina has:
“I’m pretty sure they’re up there. We’ve played some pretty good teams before, but they’ve got (Alshon) Jefferies, (Stephen) Garcia and (Marcus) Lattimore. They have a lot of playmakers out there on offense and we can’t really slack off on anybody. We know they’re going to try to move the ball around a little bit. Everybody has just got to be ready and focused; be ready to execute the defense.”