Even though you had ups and downs last year, you had some excellent outings, including throwing four touchdowns against Miami and going 22 for 28 at UNC. Did games like that show you that you can compete on this level?
Yeah, I think it did, and playing against teams in the ACC is going to be tough, first of all, because there are so many great defenses. And you've got to understand that; when we're playing a Florida State or a Miami or a Virginia Tech, you're not going to throw for 400 yards in the game. So you have to take that in mind, too. But it's just going to be a matter of not making the stupid mistakes this year.
How confident are you in the offensive line making strides this year after so many injuries last season?
Well, all those injuries last year meant that younger guys got experience for this year. So we're going to take that aspect from last year and make it a positive this year. Those guys have got some playing time under their belt now and they'll be ready for the fall.
There's no question that State is going to miss offensive standouts like Chris Colmer, Jed Paulsen, T.A. McLendon and Richard Washington. But is seems as if there is a lot of young talent waiting for the chance to step up.
There really is, and we're going to expose everybody's talent, especially in this offense. And you know, we've got the No. 1 defense coming back, of course, which always helps an offense. And we've got a great kicker. All those things are going to help us move the football and, with the new offense, we'll be able to expose some people and get people in certain situations.
How excited do the players get for the Red-White Game, or do you just look at it like another scrimmage?
Any time the fans come out to see us, it's a big deal, and we want to show up for them. We're all excited for it, and hopefully we'll have as good a turnout this year as we had in the previous years. So we're excited for it.
Who are some guys on offense that will surprise people?
Well, Lamart Barrett came on last year as a really strong receiver and he'll continue to do well, as well as Brian Clark and Tramain Hall and guys we have in the passing game.
But I think people will be impressed with our offensive line this year. We're a little bit more experienced in there because of last year's injuries. I think our offensive line will be impressive to lot of people.
How about on defense?
Our whole defense is impressive [laughing]. Even our second team is strong. And I'm sure, if I'm being honest, that everybody's kind of expecting that to be really strong.
Now that you've had some time to step back and look at last year, how difficult was it to follow in Philip Rivers's footsteps?
I think we were put in different situations. We kind of relied on Philip for so many years to win ballgames for us and what-not, whereas when I was playing, we relied on our defense and the running game. So I was never put into a situation, because of the coaches, like Philip's.
You're on your third offensive coordinator and third quarterbacks coach. How does that affect your development?
I think it's a privileged situation to play under all those coaches who are all guys that have gone onto some pretty good jobs. So I'm looking at is a privilege, and we'll go with Coach Trestman now.
At times last year, the Pack adopted a Big Ten-style approach: relying on conservative offense, great defense, winning special teams and the field-position game. Is it fair to expect a more open offense this season?
We had some injuries to our offensive line last year, and we had the No. 1 defense. With a beat-up offensive line, you need to be a little bit more conservative. So as long as we stay healthy, I think we'll attack people down the field and see where that leads us.
You played for your father in high school. Can you compare the approaches used by your father and Chuck Amato?
[Laughing] Well, my dad's an offensive guy and Chuck's a defensive guy, so Chuck wants hitting, hitting, hitting, hitting, hitting and my dad's like, "Throw it, throw it, throw it, throw it, throw it." So it's a little different. My dad wants pass skel, pass skel, Chuck wants 11-on-11, blitzing, stuff like that.