Xavier Lee admitted that Thursday of last week he had an idea he may get the start under center against Maryland.
But that doesn't mean that FSU's backup quarterback wasn't a little bit shocked when it became official just prior to the start of the game Saturday night.
"(Quarterbacks) Coach (Daryl) Dickey came up to me and said, 'You got the OK.' I was like, 'What does that mean?' He said, 'You are starting,'" Lee explained Sunday. "He looked at me with this big smile and I gave him a huge hug and told him it felt like Christmas right about now. It was a great feeling."
Lee's premature start to the "holiday season" may have ended with some coal in the stocking so to speak with a defeat, but the fact still remains that his performance eased the sting of a fourth Seminole loss before the month of November.
Making his first career start, Lee finished the game connecting on 22 of his 36 pass attempts for 286 yards and two scores.
Perhaps more important than those statistics, however, is the fact that he was mistake free in a hostile environment in the most significant action of his career.
So what exactly changed for player, that in two seasons of mop-up duty and reserve playing, never seemed to really grasp the offense and get comfortable? This was the same quarterback that threw three interceptions against the Duke Blue Devils a few weeks ago.
FSU coach Bobby Bowden said after the game that he expected Lee performed better because he didn't feel the pressure to impress in a small window of playing time.
Lee agreed with that sentiment.
"When you start off playing it kind of gives you a perspective instead of coming in the second quarter you have to prove to everyone that you are this and that," he said. "You get like a rhythm starting from the beginning and it continues on throughout the game."
With starting quarterback Drew Weatherford reserved to the sidelines with an injured foot, Lee was able to find that rhythm pretty quickly, too.
"The very first throw I had to Joslin Shaw, from then on I was in a
groove … in the zone," Lee said.
But again, it almost seems improbable that Lee was able to play so well right off the bat.
In limited action through his career, it has always been said that it takes the redshirt sophomore signal caller some time to find his niche in the offense. He is also referred to as a "game player" meaning that he does much better better on Saturdays than he does on the practice fields.
"We just knew it was going to be a lot on his shoulders," Smith said. "To be coming into the seventh game of the season expecting him to do too much. We just knew everybody had to do their parts and hopefully be as good as possible.
As preparations begin for Virginia this week, the theme of the next five days will likely center around whether or not Lee will be granted his second-career start.
Coaches and FSU officials did an excellent job of keeping
Weatherford's injury under wraps and it's likely that same discretion will be utilized this week as it pertains to the naming of a starter.
"That's not my department," Lee said. "I am just going to keep working hard at practice."
Lee: 'It felt like Christmas'
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