Boise State has garnered a lot of media attention over the last few years. Is there ever a concern that the increase in attention will be a distraction as you prepare for the season?
I think it’s really just in the way you handle it. It can obviously be a distraction if you want it to be and you get too caught up in it. But you take it for what it is, and it really means that people care about Boise State football and enjoy watching us and that’s the good part of it.
You have a 26-1 record as a starting quarterback. What do you attribute that kind of success to?
I think I’ve just been fortunate to have been surrounded by tremendous players who make me look ten times better than I am. It’s really just carrying on the tradition of quarterback at Boise State. There have been guys who’ve been very successful beforehand, and hopefully you learn from them and try to take it a step further and see what happens.
You actually finished seventh in the Heisman trophy balloting last season. What did you think of the hype surrounding that accolade?
It’s kind of goofy sometimes. I don’t think it really matters. It means we were playing good football last year and we were fortunate enough to be in conversations like that, but it can’t catch your attention too much.
Do you dream of possibly winning the Heisman this year? Does it mean something to you?
If it comes it means we’re probably playing good football. If it comes and we’re not playing good football, who really cares? I think as long as we take care of business those types of accolades will come with it.
Your stats were ridiculous last year, but is there anything you can get better at as a quarterback?
(Yes). It really comes from watching tape from last year. Recognizing opportunities and missed things – little details that maybe if you’re able to get better at those than the next time those obstacles come next season you’re able to succeed.
You’re starting out the year with a tremendous opportunity in playing Virginia Tech. Would you prefer to play a nationally ranked team like that, or do you prefer to have time to ease yourself into the flow of things?
I think it’s all about the way you present yourself and the mindset you take into it. I’m excited for the Virginia Tech game this season. It’s something you look forward to all offseason and you’re already watching the tape and trying to recognize some things about them.
What are your thoughts about Virginia Tech?
We just respect the heck out of them. Especially when you watch tape. They are as well coached as anyone in the country. They are just fast and athletic. They are smart football players and don’t screw up or blow coverages. If you’re going to make a play on them you deserve it because they are going to play as well as they possibly can.
You said you’ve watched film on VT. How much film have you begun to watch?
It’s summer – sometimes you’re bored (laughs). I think we’ve watched all their games from last year already. You watch all those games and take what you can out. At the same time you understand that that defense had a whole offseason to do whatever they wanted to do and change some things up. They’ve got some different players. So you learn some things (from watching film) but at the same time you learn that they’ll be twists and they’ll be changes and you’ve just got to prepare for them.
How does VT’s defense compare to the TCU defense you’ve seen each of the past two seasons?
I think definitely the speed factor. Both teams are very athletic and very fast. Not necessarily the biggest team you’ll see, but I think they are one of the most impressive as far as how quick they get to the ball and how well they cover in the defense. I think they are just a very smart team that doesn’t screw up.
This league is known for some very good quarterbacks, including another possible Heisman contender in Colin Kaepernick. What are your thoughts on him?
I think Colin is very good. If people haven’t had the opportunity to watch him, he is just a tremendous athlete – one of the best athletes, I think, who plays college quarterback as far as being able to run and make plays on the run. At the same time he can drop back and make throws. We’ve seen him get better and better like a lot of quarterbacks throughout the years and next year he’s got some opportunities to definitely showcase his talents.
How are you guys able to avoid the perennial conference ‘letdown’ game so many teams have during the season?
It’s just taking it one game at a time. You have one game on you’re schedule each week and you really just kind of put the blinders on and focus on that week and when the next week comes it comes.
How does it feel to be mentioned amongst the best quarterbacks in the country?
I think it’s awesome. Certainly it means that we are a successful team because if you’re a 2-9 team nobody really talks about you. I think it’s exciting and I feel very fortunate to be in the situation I am. I’ve got some big-time wideouts around me and we have a very great offensive line so it’s just been exciting.
A lot of people have been brining up the opener at Georgia in 2005 when comparing this year’s situation opening with Virginia Tech. Have you talked to former BSU quarterback Jared Zabrasnky at all about that game?
I haven’t really talked to Jared about it. A lot of these coaches have been through it the past few years and they’ve been through so many experiences that you just learn from them. They lead you down the right path and as long as you listen to them you’re going to be successful.
You’ve always been so focused and humble. Does the chance of winning the Heisman really register with you? How do you deal with all the talk?
I really don’t think about it that much. It comes down to how our team is doing. If our team is doing well people are going to want to throw out individual awards. If you’re not doing well than nobody cares about you. As long as we take care of business on our end of it, maybe some success comes (on the individual front).
There always seems to be a surprise team in the WAC. Last year it was Idaho. Who do you think it will be this year?
I think everyone has potential. I think Utah State is a team that brings some things this year. They had a lot of young guys who can get things rolling. They’ve got coach Andersen who is a tremendous coach, and I think that’s an program that can make some improvement.
Speaking of USU, they have a pretty solid quarterback. What are your thoughts on Diondre Borel?
I think he might be the best ‘wiggle around and make a play’ quarterback I’ve ever seen in a long time. He makes some amazing plays. I think he’s right up there with a lot of quarterbacks – Colin (Kaepernick) and Nathan Enderle as well from Idaho. The league is really known for some good quarterbacks who are able to make some plays. Everyone kind of has their own different styles, and last year (Diondre) proved it. They didn’t have the wins but he was able to execute the game plans and play pretty well.
Is having an effective quarterback a prerequisite for winning in the WAC?
You’ve got to be successful at quarterback to hopefully have a successful team. A lot of guys who’ve probably done it for awhile understand the situation they’re in, and I think they’re a lot of teams where if their quarterback is rolling they can probably be pretty good.
Who has a cooler mustache, coach Akey or coach Hill?
I gotta go with coach Hill, probably (laughs).
Does that mean we can expect you to try to grow one of those numbers?
I’m never going to grow either out (laughs). Not even if I tried…it would stop in about three days.