Posted by ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich
Florida State enters Monday's Miami game as the front-runner to win the Atlantic Division (and last night's subpar performance by NC State's offense further validated that early pick, at least for now.) FSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher has liked what he's seen this summer from every facet of his offense. And yes, the head-coach-in-waiting is keeping a watchful eye on the entire team, not just his offense. Here's the first part of our recent conversation:
Going into the summer, you had so many questions at wide receiver, but then guys started to shake out their legal issues. How confident are you in that group now?
Jimbo Fisher: Pretty confident. The challenge is how consistent will they perform, week in and week out, and keeping that focus, but we’ve got a good group of guys, and we’ve got a talented group of guys. You’re still always looking for consistency, but we’re seeing it more and more in practice every day.
Who do you think is going to be your go-to guy there? Any indications?
JF: It’s funny, there’s been a lot of guys. Rod Owens has had a super camp. Him and Rich Goodman have played well. [Jarmon] Fortson had some big scrimmages. Taiwan Easterling, he’s gotten back. There is no sign of his Achilles. He hasn’t missed a day. He hasn’t missed anything. He’s been good. [Louis] Givens coming back and doing some things. There’s a good group. Those first three guys have been the most consistent, but Bert Reed has had his big plays at times. They all bring a little something different to the table.
How good did it feel for you to be able to give Givens a scholarship?
JF: It was awesome, because he deserved it. He worked his tail off. He’s a great guy on special teams, and the numbers worked out. As people know, your numbers get screwed up sometimes to give a scholarship. There’s all kinds of legal implications, but it was super to be able to give it to him, and it was very well deserved.
How much more are you expecting out of your running game because the offensive line should be so much better, but they’re still young guys back there?
JF: They are, they’re still young. Jermaine has had a great camp, Ty’s gotten healthy now, and is really starting to come on, kept his weight up. There should be a good group. We feel very confident we’ll be able to run the football, and we have to be able to run the football.
You guys made a lot of strides in that area last year. I think it was some of the best numbers you’ve produced in a while. Is that because of the development of the offensive line? How do you see that growth continuing there?
JF: I see it continuing. I think our line grew, they got very good. Rick Trickett did a great job, and two, if you look at it, the ability for the receivers to have nice runs, the receivers did a good job running the football and the quarterback. You added a lot of yards, hidden yards people didn’t really see as much to a lot of different guys. The diversity helps, too.
What about Christian [Ponder]? You mentioned quarterback. I know last year he was banged up with his back, ribs, and all kinds of stuff. How much better can he be this year?
JF: I think he can be a lot better. I think he will be better. Especially as the consistency around him grows, you’re going to see his development grow. His confidence and his decision-making to know what people do and how they do it is going to grow. I think he’ll have a fine year, I really do.
Where did he make the biggest strides since last season?
JF: I think in just pure confidence. I think he knows he belongs here and he could be a heck of a player. When you’re confident in things, he really grabs ahold and his ability to learn and process information is very good.
Check back in a bit for Fisher's take on the Miami game and the NCAA's sanctions against coach Bobby Bowden.