"Definitely. I think the extra week has helped us. Watched more film and preparing a little more. That's definitely a benefit that we've had. Now it's just a matter of the next couple of days getting everything fine tuned and ready to go up to Maryland and execute. I think we've done an okay job so far the first two games but not nearly where we can be. We've ran the ball fairly well. We've passed it okay, but not near where we should be. So, I think this is our real first test. ... the first team that's really going to test us, where we are going to have to execute near perfectly to win. We are definitely excited about this game."
FSU has dominated Maryland (since joining the Atlantic Coast Conference), though last year was a far closer game. Are you worried about not taking this team seriously?
"If there was before last year, I think it's gone. I definitely feel like I can speak for the rest of the guys of the team they've earned our respect. It starts with Coach (Ralph) Friedgen and his players. Coming in as first-year coaches, and win the ACC. Even though they didn't beat us, they earned the title. We didn't. That says a lot for them. I think the players respect them and know what kind of team they are. Almost beating us at home, it's in their favor they are playing at their house this time. So, I really hope none of us are underestimating them, even though we beat them last year and Notre Dame shut them out. They have the motivation, they are going to have the crowd with them, it's gonna be a hostile environment and they want to beat us. They want to get us back for last year. Sure, they are happy but they got the title but E.J. Henderson, one of the reason he came back, was to beat Florida State. And I am sure the rest of his teammates feel that way. It's a serious game. It's not a Virginia or a Duke or one of those games. It's Maryland. They may have lost some key players – and they may have their star running back (Bruce Perry) out – but they are still a very good football team. We have to be ready for them."
How important was last year's game against Maryland in terms of helping you establish yourself as the Seminoles' quarterback.
"Well, we've been over it a lot. It was a very important game. That game gave us a shot at winning the ACC last year. If we had lost that, it would have been over. So playing a team that was undefeated and having a very good season and me having a productive game was very crucial, I think, in my confidence and the confidence my teammates and coaches have for me. That was a year ago. I feel if I played a part in beating them a year ago, then we expect to win this year. We need to do the same things we did last year and go even further. Go beyond that to make sure we come out on top. A year later I feel more confident and hopefully I can do some of the same things I did against them last year."
Is is strange calling Maryland the defending ACC champs?
"It's humbling. Even though last year was my first year, I know what Florida State has done in the past. I know the traditions they've had. Last year was the first year we didn't win the ACC. That's extra motivation for us. There's nothing we can do about last year. We can remember it. And talk about it. But we can't have it back. The only thing we can do is focus on the future and beat them this year and make sure that we get that title back. If we don't beat Maryland, it's going to be a lot harder to accomplish that. So, our only goal is to beat them. That's all we can do right now. I think that's something hopefully everyone on this team remembers that we don't have that ring now. They have it. Coach Bowden – Big Bowden and our offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden – keep reminding us of that, they have our ring right now. Beating that into our heads, so that's good.'
You've had time to look at the Virginia film and it appears Maryland may also come out in cover two in an attempt to slow FSU's passing game.
"Based on what they've done in the past, most likely they won't do that. If they do, we will have to adjust and alter our game plan and there will be more short passes and running the ball like we did last week. It's a tougher defense to pass against. But honestly I feel like I can be more prepared for it now after seeing it against Virignia and knowing that you can't force things in there. We will see what happens. We will see what kind of defense they come out playing and I am sure our coaches will have a gameplan ready for that."
Last year they blitzed a lot and put more players on the line of scrimmage and dared you to beat them.
"That's how football is. You can watch film and go on what people have done in the past. But they could come out in something totally different, you really don't know. So, we just need to prepare for both situations. Like I said, I am confident that our coaches will have a gameplan ready for that. That's all they do all day, watch film and go over game plans and prepare for that kind of stuff. And it's our job to execute. We will seee what Coach Friedgen and his team comes out in. If they go with more man and put guys on islands, I think we can take advantage of those matchups. If they go zone, we we will have to attack the zone and maybe run the ball a little more. The bottom line is we win the game. However we need to do that, that's what we are going to do."
You really haven't had all of our receivers healthy thus far. That has had an impact on your passing game.
"Obviously, you would like to have all your big-time guys out there and healthy and running the routes full speed and pumped up. I am sure Robert (Morgan) will be ready for Saturday. Craphonso (Thorpe) is working his way back. Still kind of favoring his (foot) but hopefully he will be ready to go. Anquan (Boldin) is still fired up. Talman (Gardner) kind of rolled his ankle the other day, so it's just a matter of those guys getting treatment and getting healthy and hopefully that adrenaline on Saturday overrides their injuries. There's only so much you can do about that and we have guys who can step up. Obvioulsy, your No. 1 goal is to have your starters ready to go on Saturday. I know when they are ready to go and they are 100 percent, it will help our offense."
It has only been two games but when you see yourself on film, what do you see?
"I see a guy in is second year of college football basically. I have improved in some areas but I still have a ways go. I am not where I am going to be in my senior year, even next year, or maybe even our next game. I think, being honest with myself, I still have a lot to learn and a ways to go. Trying to improve and get better, get more used to the game, the speed and the added playbook. We've expanded the playbook. But I am not worried about that. Watching more film, more reps and running the new plays we have more often. I know it will all click and come together sooner or later, mostly likey sooner. So I am not worried about that."
Playing in the opener against Iowa State in a hostile environment, do you think that will help you Saturday at Maryland?
"I think so. If we had maybe our first game being Virginia, it might have been a little more uncomfortable this week in Maryland. But I am sure it will still be very loud up there and we might have a couple communications problems. But our goal is to minimize those. We had that kind of environment against Iowa State, so I don't know if it can get much louder than that. Hopefully, it doesn't. But I don't think that will be a factor as far as the game plan."
Virginia beat South Carolina last Saturday and Iowa State has played well since the opener. Where do you feel this team fits in the national picture?
"I think we definitely have the ability, the talent, the playmakers on both sides of the ball, but we do have a ways to go. Like coach Bowden says, if we played Miami this week, I don't think we would be ready. If we played Florida this week, we wouldn't be ready. That's our job, to get better. That's our job – to learn and get better at your assignments so your MA's (missed assignments) are minimum and you have as least of those as possible. That's what our goal is. I think anyone on this team who thinks they are ready would be fooling themselves but I think anyone on the team who thinks we can't compete with those powerhouses and make a run for the national title is fooling themselves as well. We have all the tools to do that. It's just a matter of honestly, not thinking about those big games right now. Everyone is talking about, ‘Oh, you guys ready for Miami. They looked really good last week.' We are not worried about Miami. We are worried about Maryland. I think that's a mistake we made last year. Overlooking teams thinking, ‘Oh, I can't wait until we play Miami.' Then in the meantime, we lost to North Carolina. ‘Oh, we can't wait until we play Florida.' In the meantime, we lost to N.C. State. Personally, that's what I am trying to focus on. Hopefully, everyone of us is thinking game by game. Take care of Maryland. Take care of Duke. Take care of Clemson. The teams before the big games. If we do that, I think we will be okay. If we lose a game before the big game, then it really doesn't matter. Our goal is to be ready for those big games when that time comes. The only way we can do that is playing our best against the opponents we have to play before them. Taking care of them first."
Did you see the UF-Miami game and can you relate what Rex Grossman was going through against the Hurricanes' defense?
"Pretty amazing, to say the least, even though their secondary is very young, they did a good job of shutting down the passing game. They played that two-deep zone, which is, like I found out in the Virginia game for Rex, it's hard to find those alleys and get the ball in there. A lot of his passes were short, dump balls. They ran the ball very successful like we did against Virginia. I can definitely relate what he went through. He got hit hard a lot. Having a time out there, throwing off his backfoot a lot. Not being able to step into his throw against that Miami rush. Had a tough day. When Florida was up on top for a couple of minutes, I think they were up by a point, they were like ‘Oh, Florida might have this one.' I was like wait until the second half or don't count Miami out too soon because they are a great football team. They haven't lost in two years. Hopefully, we will be ready to go down there and play them when that time comes."