Florida State quarterback Drew Weatherford spoke to to the media on Tuesday. The freshman signal-caller discussed his performance versus Syracuse, the improvement in the passing game, why the offense has been slow out of the gates, getting ready for Wake Forest and much more.
Have you spent much time looking at tape of your performance the first four games?
Yeah, typically on Sunday's I come in and watch it about once or twice.
But you haven't for example watched the Miami game since the day after the game?
No, I usually take it one game at a time and that week try to improve on things I might not of done so well in that particular game and kind of move on.
Without having really recently seen that tape, what do you think of that first game and what you're doing now, what do you see differently and what improvements you made?
I just played like a rookie in the first game to be honest. I feel like after that game I really calmed down and got a good feel for what college football is all about and just mental preparation and being ready for teams to give me looks that I'm not use to. I went out against Miami expecting them to do what they've done for the last five years, so every game I take something from that (specific) game, and I feel like I've come a long way.
Did you think there'd be a couple games like that Miami game before things started going a little better?
No. I felt even against Miami I feel I would of played a lot better if it wasn't for them doing a great job of just changing everything. I felt comfortable, I didn't feel too nervous, I felt like I belonged out there, I think that was the biggest thing that messed me up.
Did Wake Forest beating Clemson get everyone's attention?
Definitely. I think it's the best thing for our team, being in the situation that we're in. But they play us tough; they play us tough every year. Their offense is really good, their defense gave us fits last year, and they were up 14-0 in the first quarter last year so we know what Wake Forest is all about and we'll be ready to play
Last year the passing offense averaged 210 yards per game, 60-something in the country, and this year with two freshmen it's 290 a game. What's the difference?
Just a combination of things. I think Lorenzo (Booker) and Leon (Washington) having such a good year last year has really helped our passing game this year and just everybody concentrating on them. Then again the work ethic of the receivers and how hard they worked in the off-season and how much better they've gotten has helped as well. New plays, different system, just a tremendous amount of things that have really helped us out.
What changes in the system have helped the passing game?
Well, typically last year all of our pass plays were big on protection is what you call it. It's kind of like a man-on-man scheme, and we do a lot of zone stuff now which makes it a lot easier to protect the quarterback. If the quarterback has time it's a lot easier to throw the ball than when you're getting pressure all the time.
So you're getting even more time even though there's less people in the blocking game?
Definitely. There's less room for error for the linemen to mess up when it's a slide-blocking scheme.
And this corner blitz they got on you this last time, was it the same situation as before.
No, that was my fault.
Were you mad at yourself, you banged the turf…
Yeah, I was pretty upset at myself. We were in shotgun and I had a play-action fake and usually in the shotgun we take it and kind of check, but with me faking I didn't even get back around to look if it was coming and that was definitely a rookie mistake.
This is the third time a team has thrown the corner blitz at you. Is that something you'll have to bare down on and become more aware of or is there something going on blocking-wise that you have to correct because that's a play that can be disastrous?
Oh, it can definitely be. It was disastrous against Wake Forest last year, they picked it up and scored on a corner blitz. It's been a combination of things. When we were in a slide protection against Boston College it actually wasn't personally my fault. I needed to be aware of it, but I wasn't responsible for taking care of it, but in this situation that just recently happened, that was the first time that a corner had actually been my personal responsibility and I didn't take care of it. But we definitely are gonna have to, me and along with the line figure out when they're gonna bring it and take care of it so teams don't continue to do it.
Last year this team didn't have a pass play of 50 or more yards and now you've got 6 or 7 of them. How important is this? This has been Florida State's trademark the last 10 years, the big play.
It's one thing to drive the ball down and score and that's a big momentum (boost), but when you just have a 70, 80-yard pass or run or something like that, it really changes the feel of the game and really shifts momentum into your favor. And that's what's been happening this year, and I think that really sparks our offensive to continue to play well when we people make plays like that.
ESPN is doing this sequel on you guys. How is everybody handling all that when you're out there all the time, when you're being filmed, mic'd, and followed? You're sort of on stage the whole time, is it nerve-racking, how do you handle that?
I don't pay attention, I really don't, I just do it. Jeff (Purinton, Assistant Director of SID) asks me to do some things and I'll just do it and get it over with. I enjoy it because I love being here and everything that's about Florida State football: being on the main stage and being in the spotlight. But it's just another day for me.
What do all of these little things, with you being on the cover of Sports Illustrated two weeks ago mean to you? It means that people nationally are looking at this program in ways they haven't done since the 90's. Does that mean anything to you?
I don't know. I think that that kind of stuff affects everyone around you more so than it really does a player. For example, I haven't seen it so it hasn't been a shock to me, it's not like I looked at it and was like 'wow that's crazy.' So I have so much going on with school and football that, it probably won't be until after the season where I'll realize actually how much we were in the spotlight and things like that.
Does that mean you didn't care about the underdog talk in the beginning of the season? There was talk about people not respecting the team and realizing the talent that's here…
I don't think that necessarily affects me either. I mean I don't really pay attention - we know that we're good, and we know that we have talent. We know that we're capable of winning a national championship and we as the players will do it. So what other people really say in the media and around campus or around the country really doesn't affect us and I think that's the best way for a team to be; you can't be up and down and getting mad. Everyone's always going to have something negative to say, so if your team is affected by that, I think it's a bad character flaw.
You pay enough attention to see that both you and Xavier (Lee) both had a play in SportsCenter's Top 10?
Your touchdown pass…
To Willie probably? Willie's touchdown, not mine (laughs). I didn't see it, that's crazy. I always wanted to be on the Top 10, I didn't see it. Thanks for letting me know.
Are there things you and your family are saving as mementos as the year goes on?
Yeah, definitely. My mom always saves all the articles and stuff like that and has friends up here that save the stuff that's written here, and I'm sure they all saw that stuff. I don't know why I didn't. I'm kinda upset I didn't see that (highlight on Top 10), that of been tight.
Are they saving game tape?
Actually I have game tape, I can get game tape whenever I want so I typically save that.
Will you enjoy watching that Miami game one day again?
Yeah, I mean I will. The fact that we won it is great, but I probably won't watch it (laughs) to be honest. I'll just remember the victory and forget about everything.
Are you aware you lead the country among freshman quarterbacks (passing yards)?
There's so much that goes on, it's crazy… Coaches don't really wanna tell you this stuff…
So if it wasn't for us…
Really you guys are my friends, I really appreciate this (laughs). This is like information time for me, I love it. It's more for me, than it is for you guys (laughs).
Are you pleased with the overall progress you've made?
I'm pleased with it. I really think I can play a lot better, and that just attributes to how many good players I have around me and the situations I get put in. I feel like the potential we have isn't even close to being reached. We haven't put a whole game together yet, we haven't played four quarters yet, we played a half of offense effectively. We haven't put a whole game together against a good team and when we do that, I think it'll be scary.
Is it important to get a quick start in the first quarter?
We got to. With our defense, if we can be a team that comes out like we have in second half in the first half, it's huge. I mean huge to give our defense a cushion like that. I think that's when they really let loose and can play and make plays on defense.
How's the mood, player relationships benefited by the offense playing well? I imagine at times last year the defense wasn't too thrilled with the performance from the offense. Do you sense that since the offense is carrying their share that it's helping?
I think so definitely. For a team to operate, I mean when both parts of the team, three parts I mean: there's offense, special teams and defense. When everybody's playing well it's a lot easier for everyone to get along, especially during the game It's so intense, everybody's giving it, it's not like they weren't playing hard last year; things just weren't going their way and it really caused a lot of tension to build up and that's not healthy for a team.
Could you talk about Lorenzo Booker. Is the sky the limit for what he can do?
He's really good. I've enjoyed watching him play ... and playing with him. This offense, I knew once we put it in, he was going to have a breakout year. It's just that kind of offense that got the ball in his hand in open space, with the zone runs and stuff that's more accustomed to him. I think he's on a roll, I think he's gonna have a real great year, and he's got a lot more big plays in the future.
When he signed he was the #1 player in the country, were you aware of that when you were in high school?
I didn't know much about him until his signing was on ESPN and I saw that and was like 'what?' At that time a high school kid signing on ESPN was ridiculous so I was like this kid is the truth. I remember watching that and being 'wow that's unbelievable, I'm so happy he's going to Florida State' and this and that and now I'm playing with him.
So did Booker call that he would score on that screen play?
He was saying it all week during practice. He knew if he got on the ball on the edge it just set-up really nice and the thing that happened in the game, it looked exactly like it did against our scout team almost. Their two guys were exactly where we thought they were gonna be, our linemen were right on them at the right time, and it was just like we practiced it. We executed it perfectly, I did my part, which wasn't much, and he gave me some stats so I appreciate that (laughs).
Back to that corner blitz. That was the first time this season where you seemed to show frustration after a play when you swiftly snapped off your chinstrap after the down. Are you beginning to hold yourself more accountable out there now and sort of shifting away from the mindset of just going out there and not making mistakes to one where you're less worried about making mistakes and more concerned with making plays?
I think so, and plus that's something that should never happen. We do in practice all the time, and I always pick it up, and I've done it one hundred times, and the one time I don't look they bring it. And it's just frustrating and I expect more out of myself, especially now that the season has gone on and that was the fourth game of the season, I shouldn't be making mistakes like that.
Transcribed by Aslan Hajivandi
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