Coach Q&A: Jeff Bowden

A few days ago, posted offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden's comments on backup QB Xavier Lee. The following is the rest of that conversation where Bowden talks about the play of Drew Weatherford, what to expect against Duke and new wrinkles on offense.

Q: How do you assess your progress thus far?

A: I still don't feel like we ran the ball near as well as I would have liked us to. (N.C. State) did pretty much what we anticipated them to do and brought a lot of zone blitz into our runs and had safeties roll down so there were some runs that were just going to spit out until they got to a safety … so they didn't have a chance to go big. I think what that did do for us, though, is later in the game I think that set up some play-action passes for us that were pretty big coming off that goal line and then going into the endzone. In that regard they worked well together.

Q: How would you rate the performance of Drew Weatherford against NC State?

A: I would say probably B-minus.

Q: What about the previous four games?

A I think he has been playing good. I don't think he has played as good as he can play yet.

Q: It seems like Weatherford is holding on to the ball too long. And sometimes he is locking in on receivers early.

A: I am almost willing to say that your assessment was close in that I sometimes feel he is out there trying to play perfect ball and may be a little too cautious at times … too cautious for me and not being aggressive as I would like him to be. The shame in the last game is that nobody will remember what he did do but you are going to remember that last (interception). It just sticks out in your mind. He did do some good things, but again, I would still like to see him (be) more aggressive.

Q: On that interception he had Chris Davis wide open.

A: He had Chris open on the sideline.

Q: What was the issue when his pass was tipped when he was looking for Brandon Warren in the endzone?

A: Well, Brandon was his second read. Actually, Lorenzo (Booker) was his first read to run. It would be a naked from the five (yard line) but Brandon just popped so wide open and I thought he found him. Brandon did need to be a little bit deeper to have a little more separation behind that linebacker but the pass still needed a little more touch on it.

Q: Do you think that sometimes he doesn't trust his protection?

A: I don't know if it goes back to the spring where all the talk was not turning the ball over … I am not sure he is not being too cautious at times. I want him to be more aggressive. The interception was just a poor decision. He had a guy to go to and he didn't have to be aggressive on that particular play - especially with two minutes to go in the game. That was just a poor decision. I still want to see him more aggressive.

Q: Can you put your finger on what it was that stopped the offense from producing after the 99-yard drive?

A: I think it just goes back to our running game. You wonder sometimes if we should just spread out more often but (I) just am not willing to do that. You don't try to make a commitment to something and then abandon it. There comes a point - there will come a point with me even - where if we are not being productive enough and we are going to be more productive spread out, then I will make that decision. I wasn't ready to do it. We still … you get the tipped ball in the endzone … you get three instead of seven, you take the last drive of the game and we have a 65-yard drive working, which if you don't have the interception who knows what is going to happen. To some degree, and I hate to do it, but you have to give N.C. State some credit because they just whipped our butt at times - just pure and simple.

Q: Are you pleased with some of the new wrinkles of the past few weeks?

A: There are a couple of things we are doing different. It's not different to football, it is different to what we have done here in the past. I have wondered because there are two or three plays that are new in our passing game and it requires a different type of read for our quarterback. I have wondered if it has just taken (Weatherford) a while to get comfortable with it. Those were some things - and it was a big package in the N.C. State game - that freed up Lorenzo coming out of the backfield on third down and that freed up some receivers. We have more guys crossing but it is a little different for what he normally looks for back there in the pocket. We have always been, for as long as I can remember here, pretty much out on the edge and that is where we played ball but now we are requiring him to be more focused in here which is where your tight ends can get involved in the game. When people start paying a lot of attention to that tight end, which everybody is learning we have some tight ends now, we can use those guys to free up another receiver or a back out of the backfield.

Q: Do you expect to see a lot of blitzing from Duke?

A: Oh yeah, and they are going to get hit, too. They are going to get hit this ballgame.

Q: Do you feel a lot of pressure to put up big numbers against a team like Duke that just gave Alabama a scare?

A: It wakes you up to what can happen if you are not mentally prepared to play at Duke. The problems they cause is that they are going to blitz you to death. It doesn't matter what set or what protection you get into. They are going to blitz you and they are going to hit your quarterback. You are going to have to be able to execute your passing game because you are not going to run into the blitz. We will have some runs - you have got to have some things to keep them honest - so we will have some of that. If you don't throw and catch the ball against these guys it will be the same deal as it was for Alabama.

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