I was driving to work this morning listening to Radio Voice of the Vikings Paul Allen during his weekday morning radio show on AM 1130 KFAN. PA was interviewing Florida State Head Coach Jimbo Fisher, who coached Vikings 1st-round pick Christian Ponder throughout the QB’s entire college career.
And by the time the interview was over – I was sitting in my car in a parking spot – I was ready to strap on a pair of shoulder pads and a helmet in order to help Ponder win some football games. The interview was incredible and Fisher spoke with great candor about his former QB. Click here to listen to the interview.
Obviously it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Fisher would talk about his former player with such glowing praise. But it’s the manner in which Fisher did it that got me – and PA and his producer, Joe Nelson – excited about what the future might hold for the Vikings and their new QB. In the interview, you won’t hear the typical coach speak that you hear so often from former coaches talking about their players. You hear real examples of how Ponder was a competitor and tough player at Florida State.
I recommend clicking the link to hear the interview, but here are a few highlights and quotes that stood out to me.
The first question PA asked coach Fisher was about the type of player Ponder will be for the Vikings.
“Can he make great decisions [and] is he accurate with the ball? Yes. Can he make all the throws? Yes. Can he create with his feet? Yes. Will people follow him and respect him? Yes. So there are a lot of things I like about him, in my opinion,” Fisher said.
Then PA got right to the nitty-gritty, asking Fisher about Ponder’s injury history, which is one of the biggest criticisms you hear about the QB.
“We played North Carolina State his junior year,” Fisher explained. “He runs the ball, scrambles, dives down; he actually dove down and got a first down on a third-and-two. A guy speared him in the back, under his rib cage. [Ponder] breaks two ribs [on] the first drive of the game. He breaks two ribs on the first drive, never plays with any pain-killer, goes in at halftime and we’re ahead. They tell us at halftime, ‘he can’t play.’ We come out, I’ve got the other guy ready to start, he comes running out – makes them (trainers) shoot him up (with pain killers) – and in that game we won 45-42 and he took us on a two-minute drive to win it.”
Fisher explained a few other injuries, noting that Ponder played in a bowl game that same season with a torn oblique (ouch!) and that with the elbow injury Ponder suffered later in his career, trainers would take 400-500 CCs of fluid out of his elbow after each game. Fisher described how trainers would have to cut off his elbow pad – rather than sliding it off, as you normally would – after each game because of the swelling.
Then, Fisher spoke about how Ponder A) would carry the Seminoles in victories basically by himself and B) would be at his best in big spots, which ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer criticized Ponder for earlier in the week (Dilfer was apparently quite a bit off the mark here, again).
“North Carolina just had the most guys drafted of any school out there,” Fisher said. “He had 300 yards against them (this past season); year before he threw for 400 (yards). He just competes; nothing fazes the guy.”
The Tar Heels just had 9 players drafted in this past weekend’s NFL Draft, with most of them having played against Ponder 2 seasons ago and some of them even playing this past season against FSU.
“We were down 24-7, we come back and win 30-28,” Fisher described. “He throws a touchdown with 5 minutes to go. In the game he was like 33 of 38 for 394 yards and three touchdowns, and the game-winner with five minutes to go against nine NFL draft picks. Up front we couldn’t block them. Their front, I mean everybody’s in the League (NFL). And they were really good. He scrambled to make yards. The throws he made against zone, against man, against blitz. I mean, the guy competed.
“In pressure situations he was great. On third down we were ranked number one in the league for two years in a row. One reason – our quarterback. Red zone we were at the top every year. In third down and red zone is where you get evaluated (as a QB).”
There were other interesting notes Fisher gave about Ponder, such as how intricately involved the QB would be in the developing the weekly game plan. Fisher said Ponder would develop new concepts to attack each opponent and that Ponder understands not just how to attack a defense, but why to attack a defense a certain way. Another interesting note Fisher divulged is that during his FSU career Ponder never played with a skill guy (RB, TE, WR) that was drafted into the NFL.
Whether you’re already excited about the Ponder pick or you’re not quite sold on it yet, the interview is a must listen.
Let’s play some football!
Tags: Christian Ponder, Paul Allen
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