Backup quarterback Xavier Lee is a patient player. But it's wearing thin.
Florida State fans everywhere are fed up with the lack of offensive production through the first three games of the 2006 season and so is he.
But what separates Lee from the garnet and gold fanbase is that he is as close as you can get to the problem without actually being a part of it. Now, fresh off a disappointing 27-20 defeat at the hands of the Clemson Tigers, he may finally be on the cusp of doing something about it.
"Every play that we've watched over the last couple of games I just find something that I could do better, something I would have done here would have done there," Lee said Monday. "Just getting a mental picture just in case it does happen. If that situation does arise I will do what I was thinking."
Lee's opportunity is now more likely than ever after a loss in which the FSU passing attack struggled mightily. Starting quarterback Drew Weatherford has not performed well so far this season but coaches have balked at inserting in Lee because of Weatherford's experience.
With an offense that ranks No. 105 out of 119 Division I teams, however, a switch at signal caller seems like the logical thing to do.
"I am anxious for him to play and I am looking for an opportunity for him to play," FSU quarterbacks coach Daryl Dickey said. "This could be the best situation for him and our football team. Sometimes you've got to be a little bit careful about when you do those things but I am anxious to see him and to get him on the field too."
If Lee does get to play Saturday against Rice, he is hoping that the opportunity Coach Dickey was referring to is not late in the ballgame.
Against Clemson, he entered the ballgame for the first time all season on the contest's last play.
"I just want to play when there's still some game going on," Lee said. "It don't matter what quarter as long as I play when there's enough time to get more than one play."
It's clear from his statements that something has got to give at some point soon.
A highly regarded recruit coming out of Daytona Beach Seabreeze High School in 2004, Lee's role at FSU is not what he ever expected it to be. And dealing with serving as a backup has been rough.
Lee said Monday that his half-brother Anthony Kelly, a defensive end for the Tribe who is recovering from shoulder surgery, has provided him with enough words of wisdom to help his patience.
"He's been telling me just be patient (and) just keep my head up and just keep working hard," Lee said. "You know, don't let them see that they got you down. I am going to keep my head up."
If Lee has it his way, Saturday may be the last time he has to take heed to that advice.
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