Florida State quarterback Drew Weatherford is looking to have a better game against NC State this time around.
Last year NC State upset Florida State 20-15 in Tallahassee, and a big reason was because the Wolfpack constantly pressured Weatherford all night long.
The Seminoles tallied only 227 total yards in the game, as Weatherford completed just 19-of-38 passes for 181 yards. He also threw a season-high three interceptions, and NC State's ability to confuse the then redshirt freshman was the difference.
"It was the first time defenses really started to change up from what we saw on film," Weatherford said yesterday when asked about last year's game. "Last year we didn't do a very good job of adjusting to it, me in particular, being young and not being able to adjust in the middle of the game when I studied something all week and they come out and show me something different.
"I feel like our team is much more mature on offense and that won't be an issue for us this year at all."
Defensively, NC State got a big game from returning defensive backs A.J. Davis and Garland Heath. Davis finished with six tackles and two interceptions while Heath added nine tackles and the game-winning interception. Both benefited from a relentless Wolfpack pass rush and a rattled Weatherford.
With more games under his belt, this time he enters with even more confidence, and why shouldn't he?
Through four games, Weatherford has completed 65-of-106 passes for 715 yards. He's thrown three touchdowns and two interceptions, and he is coming off an 8-of-12 performance against Rice where the Seminoles lit up the scoreboard for 55 points.
Now he is looking to continue to improve. In 2005, Weatherford led all freshmen nationally in passing yardage (3,208) and passing touchdowns (18) after starting all 13 games for Florida State. A preseason All-ACC selection and a preseason All-American candidate, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound standout has a huge arm, plenty of mobility, and the intangibles you look for in a quarterback. Also, he might have the most offensive talent in the ACC at his disposal in stud tailbacks Antone Smith and Lorenzo Booker, tight end Brandon Warren, and wide receivers Greg Carr, De'Cody Fagg, Chris Davis, and Richard Goodman.
Carr might be the x-factor, as he was Weatherford's top weapon in 2005. Also a sophomore, Carr was a second-team All-ACC pick in 2005 after leading all Florida State receivers in yards per reception (20.6) and receiving touchdowns (9), while placing second in yards per game (51.3) and third in receiving yards (618).
At 6-foot-6 and 203 pounds, Carr is a huge target in the redzone, and often Weatherford looks his way when he's in trouble.
Before the season Carr's sister passed away, and it has taken him some time to adjust to the loss, but after catching two touchdowns against Rice last week, Weatherford believes his star wide receiver is starting to come around.
"He's one of our most explosive weapons, and it's essential for us to get him involved in the game," said Weatherford. "He's a big play threat and he's something the defense has to worry about every time he's on the field. It really did help our offense open up a lot the fact that he came out and had a big game."
NC State head coach Chuck Amato knows that Florida State's offense is loaded, and Weatherford is the engine behind the attack.
"They are a time bomb waiting to explode," said Amato. "They are a time bomb ready to explode."
Wolfpack fans and Amato are hoping that there aren't any fireworks from Weatherford and Florida State on Thursday night.