What has the spring been like so far for you?
Bringing in a new offense, it is a lot of learning and what-not. But I do have that year under my belt now, so I'm a little bit more comfortable with that, trying new things and getting [used to] the more blitz coverages and stuff like that. This spring has been a learning process, and it will continue to be so.
What has it been like to work with new quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Marc Trestman?
It's been a great experience. Any time you can play under a guy with his kind of background, it's certainly an honor. He's a great coach, very knowledgeable of the game, and hopefully, he'll get our offense back on the right track from where we fell off last year.
I've heard there's a lot of excitement among the offensive players at this point.
Oh, yeah, absolutely. It's more business-like now, I think. We're all carrying playbooks around, we're all quizzing each other [while] walking around back at the apartment. So we're taking a business approach to this offense, and it's helping.
This time last year, you and Marcus Stone were still splitting reps. This year, coach Chuck Amato says you're the guy. How has that made it different for you?
Well, he said that, but we're still in competition every day. Marcus continues to push me, and I feel like if I slip up once, he'll end up being the guy. So I'm still looking over my shoulder at him and stuff like that. But Coach Amato did announce me as the starter and it's a good feeling, but I can't take it for granted.
I don't believe I have it wrapped up. I've got to continue to work hard and do the things that I do well, and continue to learn and move the football.
Is it almost like a fresh start and clean slate for all the quarterbacks, working with a new coordinator who didn't recruit any of you?
Well, yeah, it's going to be a fresh start for everybody – guys that haven't had a chance to play now [have] got that chance, who might fit in better in this system. Part of it's going to be applying it into the game, with the game speed and stuff like that. Scrimmages are a little bit different now because we're still learning and we don't have a lot of audibles in and we can't check into certain things, so it's going to be a matter of applying what we're learning on the field to the game.
What was the biggest thing you learned last year, in your first season as a starter?
The thing I learned is you need to take the game off your shoulders and get the ball to your playmakers -- Tramain Hall, Brian Clark, our running backs. That's probably the biggest thing. Last year, I tried to take too much control of the game and I ended up making stupid mistakes. So going into this year, I'm going to be a little bit more relaxed and just get the ball to our playmakers.
Isn't that part of the maturation of a quarterback, learning to check down to the easy play instead of forcing it down the field?
I think so. And as I went through the year last year, I think I got better at it, especially early on [as] compared to at the end of the season. I thought I showed progress. And it's just a matter of keeping on moving and applying last season to this season.
After breaking down film from last year, what are the main areas of your game you're working on this spring?
You're always going to want to work on your footwork and your arm strength, but really, I just want to be in control of the game situations: what I need to get on first-and-10, third-and-five, third-and-10, third-and-12, and what we're trying to do in each situation, the two-minute situation. And just kind of manage the game a lot better.
Going against last year's top defense in the country can't make that an easy job.
It's a challenge every day. It's tough. It gets frustrating in the spring because they are so good and we've got to develop ways to block a Mario Williams or a Manny Lawson, and that's just going to help us during the season. We're learning, but we're getting better.
I can tell just talking to you that there's a real passion in your voice about this offense and this team. How excited are you for your final season?
You've got that right. It's my last year and I just want to do whatever it takes to win football games. That's all I care about. I'm excited for it.