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October 25, 2006

Q&A: Weatherford looks back at BC

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Florida State quarterback Drew Weatherford had a hot and cold outing last week against Boston College. In this interview with the media, the sophomore signal-caller talks about what when right, and what went wrong, in the BC game, almost getting benched for Xavier Lee, what happened on the final decisive drive and more.

Q: Did you just have a team meeting?

Drew Weatherford: Yeah, we had a meeting with Coach Bowden. He was just talking to us that we have the whole rest of the season to look forward to, and that we have a lot of young guys. He just explained that we needed not to pay attention to what has happened in the past, but look forward to the future and continue to try to get better."

Q: Who were the players involved in the meeting?

Drew Weatherford: We have a Unity Council. It consists of me, Lorenzo Booker, Xavier Lee, Andre Fluellen, Darrell Burston, Everette Brown, and there were a bunch of people who weren't able to make it. Cory Niblock was also there.

Q: Was that meeting called for by the players or Coach Bowden?

Drew Weatherford: It was called for by him.

Q: Is Coach Bowden telling the team to look forward and not to hang their heads, at this point is that a tough sell to convince you guys just to move on and focus on the big picture?

Drew Weatherford: We are going to have to move on. If we worry about what happened last week we are going to go out and we might lose another one if we don't watch ourselves. We have got to try to put this behind us and take it a game at a time.

Q: Is this the first time this season that the Unity Council has met with Coach Bowden?

Drew Weatherford: No, we met earlier in the season as well. He usually meets with us when we start to have problems off the field or the players call the meeting with him because they have some to say. That hasn't been the case yet. We really haven't understood what has been going wrong with our season so far so there wasn't much to talk about.

Q: You mean there was not much to talk about today?

Drew Weatherford: Yeah, We just can't really put a finger on what has been necessarily going wrong. It is just a bunch of different stuff.

Q: What did you see when you reviewed the film from the Boston College game?

Drew Weatherford: I thought we executed fairly well for 80% of the game but it is not for consistent drives at a time. We will play good five or six downs and then we will have two or three where we won't and we will have to punt the ball away. We gave them 14 points as an offense because of the interception for a touchdown and Caz (Piurowski) fumbling the ball which ended up on the one. Penalties hurt us as well. We are just making way too many mistakes to beat quality teams like Boston College, NC State, and Clemson.

Q: What was your view of the play where you threw the interceptions that led to the touchdown?

Drew Weatherford: Actually what happened is they had been playing quarters to the field for almost the entire game and the safeties and corners would play at about the same level, about eight to ten yards, and what happened when I got the snap was they rolled down into it. When I got the snap, it was down and to the right and I didn't even get a chance to look (at the defensive alignment so I caught it and I was trying to be really decisive and I thought they were going to do what they had done previously in the game playing off of Greg Carr and trying not to allow him to beat them down the field so I was just trying to be decisive and catch the ball and throw the ball. It was a 3rd-and-2 and I was just trying to throw a simple hitch route on the outside and they rolled into cover two and the defender made a good play.

Q: So you didn't see the defender when you threw it?

Drew Weatherford: I didn't see what the defense did.

Q: What do you get from doing that?

Drew Weatherford: It is funny because typically I would do what I usually do and take the shorter throw. It was a mirror route, we had the same route on each side, and X (receiver) had the same route that Z (receiver) had and the throw from myself to Z is a lot farther than from myself to X. That is kind of a basic rule of being a quarterback that you want to take the shortest route possible and I didn't do that.

Q: The throw to Greg Carr in the second half, was that simply an overthrow by you?

Drew Weatherford: Well, we actually ran a take-off where we have Chris (Davis) and Greg on the same side and Chris reads the safety and Boston College they are an excellent two safeties and typically in the two safety look you never throw outside because they pinch off the outside guy. In that particular play, when Chris got vertical the safety stayed inside, and I was looking at Chris, looking at Chris, and because they safety didn't get over the top and the cornerback is thinking cover two and that he has help and he let Greg go by expecting that help over the top by the safety and Greg popped. I thought I threw it soft enough but it is almost like he popped so wide open so fast that I just put a little too much on it. If I could have taken it back I would have just pinned him on the sideline because it was definitely going to be a touchdown if I hit him. It was unfortunate.

Q: On the play after the nullified touchdown pass to Carr, could you have been any happier with the play call of running a post on the next play to Carr for a touchdown?

Drew Weatherford: No, it was a great call. Right when I walked up to the line of scrimmage I knew he was going to be open. I looked off the safety real hard and Greg made a good move. They are going to play him hard on the outside when we get into the red-zone and it was a great play call. He made it look easy.

Q: Do you get excited when a play such as that is called for Greg knowing before the snap that if he gets to that spot the play is going to work?

Drew Weatherford: Yeah, right when they called that I knew once Greg got vertical like that, that they would likely expect the same play because we knew we had one-on-one coverage and he stuck to post and even before the snap I knew walking up that it was going to be a touchdown if I made the right throw. I got a chance to be really decisive, to be able to step up into it, and the offensive line gave me great protection because it was a long route and we got it done.

Q: You have got about two or three touchdowns on that same play this year, haven't you?

Drew Weatherford: Yeah, we sure have.

Q: With the success that you have had with Carr, does it strike you as odd that his number still is not called more in the huddle?

Drew Weatherford: It kind of just depends. It has to do with the position that he plays and what the defense is willing to give to us. Especially against Boston College, they play so soft and with chris Davis playing the slot he had a lot of opportunities because they dropped so deep and we were able to hit him underneath.

Q: Chris Davis had probably the best game he has had here on Saturday?

Drew weatherford: Yeah, he played phenomenal in every aspect of the game. He blocked great. He made a great catch on the goal line which is one that not many guys could make.

Q: Chris commented that you absolutely ripped that ball into that spot?

Drew Weatherford: Yeah, it was just a great catch. I have a lot of faith in him. Ever since I have been here he was worked very hard and we have always had great chemistry together. I am glad that he finally had a coming out day because he is very talented and it just gave us an opportunity to hit him a lot.

Q: How much of a difference does it make that you have confidence in a few of your receivers after working with them since you arrived on campus?

Drew Weatherford: A lot. I think they have confidence in me too and it works both ways. I really have a real good bond with Chris and to be honest with all the guys I play with. Everybody plays a little different and I have a feel for them. Just being out there and having more experience I understand what is going on a little better which obviously makes me better. Just our timing is a lot better and we are more consistent.

Q: During Jeff Bowden's interview he said he wishes he had previously had you throw more this season and be in a more spread offense. Is that something that you and the offense is just more comfortable in?

Drew Weatherford: It suits our offense better. We have great backs, they are great receivers out of the backfield and they are not 220 pound backs that are trying to hit the hole and move the pile in a cloud of dust. They are great in space. They do a really good job of running out of the shotgun. I also feel our offensive line does a better job blocking out of the shotgun. When we spread everything out I just feel like they are able to see everything much better. It is much harder to disguise blitzes and things like that. I just feel like an offense it suits us much more.

Q: Do you think you would be farther along in your development if you had done that from the get-go?

Drew Weatherford: We have had several different philosophies going into games so far. Going into Miami it was one, Boston (College) we tried to be 50-50, and against Troy we will wanted to establish the run. Troy and Clemson was a lot of I-formation and pound the ball. We have had several different schemes and we haven't really found our identity yet. I feel like we have finally come into it and found what we want to do and what we are best at. I feel like we are just going to be able to become more and more comfortable and build a bigger package which should make us much more efficient.

Q: The identity that you found is the spread?

Drew Weatherford: Yeah, I think so. Personally I think that is what we are best at and that we will put up more points like that than we would in typical I-formation. At the same time though we need to mix that in at times when we need to get short yardage. Not only that, we need to come out and mix it up and get into the I-formation but I think we are going to spend more time spreading out the ball instead of getting in compact formations.

Q: How much has the juggling of all these different offensive gameplans and the attempting to find an identity combined with any baggage from last year affected your confidence this season?

Drew Weatherford: I haven't lost confidence. I feel like I have been level-headed throughout the whole thing and I have never doubted myself or my abilities or even the offense's ability at all. We just haven't, up until this point, figured out what we want to do as an offense and for me personally, especially when we played Troy and Clemson we didn't get a chance to practice very much and we started to kind of go a different direction. In a way, as an offense it was kind of difficult to adapt to getting into the I-formation a lot and trying to pound the ball. That is not something we have done a lot and that isn't what our mindset was going into the year and against Miami. We are just trying to find an answer is what it comes down to. The coaches and the players are trying to find an answer and find what is going to make us most successful. It has been difficult. We haven't performed extremely well in either set yet. We do see a lot of potential in what we are doing now.

Q: I am kind of mystified why the offense would try to play checkers with opponents in gameplans instead of doing what would maximize the talent on that side of the ball the best?

Drew Weatherford: I don't know. I don't know what the answer to that question is.

Q: But you did say that the offense, all the way down to the offensive line, is better in the spread?

Drew Weatherford: It seems like that. I have always been more confident in the spread formation. With the personnel that we have and getting the best players on the field as much as possible early in the year we did spread it out against Miami as much as possible and we didn't have much success to be honest so I feel like the coaches were kind of confused about what we were best at and like I said I think they have just been searching for answers and trying to find a way to win ballgames. We are still searching but hopefully we will find it soon.

Q: Against arguably the four best opponents you have faced this season the offense has failed to eclipse 20 points, has the offense discussed that how do you attempt to improve the scoring of the offense?

Drew Weatherford: Definitely. We have got to make more big plays at every position. The quarterback has to make more big plays, more big throws. The receivers are going to have to make big catches. The running backs are going to have to take their opportunities running the ball and do as much as they can with it. We have had a lack of big play potential, which we have a lot of. We have a lot of guys who can make big plays but we just haven't been making enough of them. It is really a mystery to me why there haven't been more big plays made and we are going to have to start making them if we want to win games.

Q: Is that somewhere the offense came up short on Saturday?

Drew Weatherford: Yeah, definitely. A perfect example would have been if I hit Greg, that would have been a walk-in touchdown. That would have been a huge play. As a whole on Saturday I thought I played pretty well outside of that and obviously the interception. I thought I played pretty solid.

Q: Did you think you had happy feet during the game and if so did that prevent the possibility of some big plays?

Drew Weatherford: I thought during the game I had happy feet. I came out after we punted and I was moving around. I asked myself if I was just not seeing what was going on and do I have more time or am I just escaping but I went back and watched the film and thought I did a pretty good job. There was a couple times I probably could have stuck in there longer but as a whole I thought I was pretty patient. Boston College, their philosophy was that they were not going to give up big plays and we were just trying to take stuff underneath but we just weren't consistent enough doing that. They weren't trying to let us throw the ball downfield so it was kind of difficult to make big plays unless a receiver or back catches something and breaks it down the field running for 20 or 30 yards.

Q: What do you know about Maryland?

Drew Weatherford: They are really similar to a Boston College really. They will probably blitz a little more and they won't be as conservative but they are fundamentally sound. They are a good defense who is well coached who doesn't give up a lot of big plays so we are just going to have to go out there and make them.

Q: When things are going good, the quarterback receives a lot of praise, when they are going bad, he receives a lot of criticism whether it is fair or not. How do you deal with that?

Drew Weatherford: I don't pay attention to it. I don't read newspapers, watch television, get on the internet, I just do what I am told to do. I listen to my coaches. I watch film and I try to evaluate myself with the help of my coaches who know a lot about the game and what is going on. I let them evaluate me and I try to take there advice and try to get better. I really don't pay attention to what is going on out there.

Q: Do you encounter criticism on campus?

Drew Weatherford: No. On campus everything has been fine. I feel like everybody realizes I am working hard and that I am out there doing the best that I can possibly do. I have never shown a lack of effort or preparation and I feel like they realize that. I just try to go out and do as well as I can and I work as hard as I can. It is just disappointing that things haven't worked out but I feel like I am doing my part when it comes to preparation and being ready to go.

Q: Have you always tried to avoid the news concerning your team?

Drew Weatherford: I haven't my whole life. Growing up it was something I never did. In high school I never read articles, I never did anything, I never watched television interviews. I just don't think it is something that is a good idea for players to get into. You either get to big-headed or you get to down on yourself. There is so much being written and there is so much being said which is good for the fans and people that want to stay tuned into what is going on but for players to really get involved in that, I don't think it is a very good idea.

Q: You come from a football family though, what are some of the things you discuss with them?

Drew Weatherford: We talk about the game for about a day and then the next day he is talking to me about class. It is not something that is always the topic of conversation. He knows that I am out there doing the best that I can and that I am working hard. He also knows that there are plays I could have made in the game and that there will be some great plays that I make in a game. When it comes down to it, it is a game of football that you are supposed to enjoy and that is all that he cares about, that I am enjoying it and that I am satisfied with how hard I am working and that I don't regret anything.

Q: Coach Bowden mentioned earlier that they nearly pulled you prior to the drive where you were able to orchestrate the drive that made it 24-17, what did they tell you?

Drew Weatherford: I was told that right after the drive before that. Prior to that drive (where we scored) I came off and got on the headphones and Coach Dickey told me basically that I had to make something happen or they were going to have to make a change. I wasn't pleased necessarily at that point. I thought other than one play (interception returned for a TD) I had done my job and executed what I had been asked to execute. But at the same time they needed a spark, they did. Our offense was very stagnant, there wasn't big plays being made and I was just pleased that they allowed me to stay in and gave me a shot.

Q: Did you have a rebuttal in that conversation?

Drew Weatherford: I just asked them what I should be doing out there, if he had any suggestions really, probably not in such a moderate tone really. If there was anything that he saw out there - if I needed to be taking more chances down field. I just wanted an answer. I just wanted to know what I was doing out there or what I wasn't doing out there that he saw. Really what it came down to is he said I was doing my job but we needed a spark for the team. I guess that is what they thought the answer was. I think that he and the coaches realize that I am not the type of kid that is going to shut down. I will respond to a situation like that. When I came back out on the field my first two passes were incomplete and it was 3rd and 10 and I was like 'oh my god, you have to be kidding me' and I knew if I didn't get that third down I was going to be done right then.

Q: You got three third downs on that drive, didn't you?

Drew Weatherford: Yeah I did. (On the first third down) I tried to throw the ball to Chris twice in a row and I overthrew him on one and the other one got batted down but that was some pressure right there because I definitely didn't want to be taken out of the ballgame right there and I wanted to battle back and take the opportunity to try and win the ballgame. I hit Greg on the sideline with a deep corner route and we went down and we scored so they allowed me to stay in the game.

Q: When you look at your stats for the game do you feel they reflect the kind of game that you played?

Drew Weatherford: Numbers only tell so much. I threw an interception for a touchdown which negates a lot of that. I made a really awful mistake but at the same time, after watching the film there is always going to be things you wish you had done and things you wish didn't do. That is always going to be a throw I wish I could have taken back.

There is the NC State one and that is definitely another one. Right after I threw it, I wish I could have taken it back. As a whole I felt like I played pretty solid under the circumstances and I just hope I can learn from the mistakes that I did make.

Q: At your position though, the only stat that really matters is winning?

Drew Weatherford: Yeah, Tom Brady is a great example of that. The amazing thing is that even though our offense hasn't played well all season and we haven't executed well we could very easily be undefeated right now and we wouldn't be having these conversation which is kind of funny because we would still be having the same problems on offense, they just wouldn't be talked about as much which makes sense. If you are winning then you are winning which makes sense why you wouldn't talk about those things. At the quarterback position it is about wins and losses and it is about winning championship. I realize that and I know it comes with the territory. I don't care about my stats, I care about winning. I would have much rathered have 100 yards and no touchdowns than three hundred yards and a touchdown if it meant a win. If we are winning, that is fine with me.

Q: Which area have you most improved in and that you must continue to improve in since you became the starting quarterback?

Drew Weatherford: There is always a ton of things that you can improve on. I feel like I have improved a lot in the area of just taking what the defense is giving me and not forcing things down the field. There have been situations during the season where people feel I have been to conservative but I watch it on film and I really feel like I am doing what I am coached to do which is get the ball to the open receiver and take what the defense is giving me especially in third down situations. That is an area I have definitely improved in but other areas that I need to improve in is being more consistent and I feel that has been our offense's problem and a lot of that falls on me. I don't feel I have been consistent enough in drives You don't put points up that way.

Q: Concerning your near benching, I heard they were prepared to take you out but you got on the headphones and convinced Coach Dickey to leave you in?

Drew Weatherford: When I got on the headsets with coach Dickey he said he was sorry and that he was going to have to make a change. Soon after we had our conversation he said that I had one more (series). I don't know if they were really planning on taking me out right there or if the whole time they had in mind that I had one more series. Something I said convinced them (to give me) one more series, I guess.

Q: Did they say anything to Xavier Lee then?

Drew Weatherford: He (Dickey) got on the headset with Xavier and Xavier started to warm up.

Q: Presume he wasn't very happy when he didn't get to see the field?

Drew Weatherford: No, he probably hasn't been very happy dealing with this situation. It is a tough situation to deal with. Your team is losing and that is really the main thing that he is worried about. He has a lot of ability and believes he can do some things out there and he wants the opportunity to do that and I understand that. If I was in the same situation, I would act the same way if I was in his situation.

Q: What do you mean, act the same way?

Drew Weatherford: If I was in that situation, in general of wanting to play, wanting to have the opportunity. He has been nothing but positive in meetings and he has never been negative. I am sure it is difficult for him. If we were winning it would be one thing but especially going through hard times when you are losing and you feel like you can go out there and make plays to help a team win, it has to be frustrating.

Q: Going back to the interception, were you happy that you guys were taking a shot instead of taking it to the half?

Drew Weatherford: I was happy, I was pleased. Earlier in the season we didn't take a shot and I was kind of disappointed we didn't at least try to drive it down and get a field goal. I was happy with the fact that they were doing that and that they gave me the opportunity to drive the team down and get us some points. Boston College is the type of team that is very good at controlling the ball and you don't really have very many opportunities to score against them and it was disappointing I made that mistake.

Q: Was that a good play call for creating points on that drive though, going that short?

Drew Weatherford: My focus was getting the first down. I wasn't necessarily trying to push the ball down the field. That is why I threw it to Greg and the other two receivers were running corner routes which were deeper down the field but I was concerned with what I thought was to be a sure throw and a sure completion which it was but to the other team, disappointingly.

Transcribed by Chris Nee


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