How is this different, knowing that you're starting (against Arizona) versus not knowing before?
It's just a different kind of preparation. It's just bumped the time of film work up a little bit, and I'm just trying to get the mental aspect. Probably now I'm going to be a little bit more nervous. But, it's not that much different because I've had many talks with Coach (Bill) Diedrick (because) you're always one snap away, so I've always had to prepare like I'm a starter.
How much did that performance (versus Texas) help you, with that winning drive at the end?
It basically just made me realize that I can do it. I can hang at this level. Before, I wasn't sure because I hadn't played. I had (only) five snaps versus Washington State. You really don't know. (But) now I know because Texas is such a great team and we did so well.
(Do) you get a feeling like you belong there, (that) you're not out of place?
Yeah. It was sort of weird because all last year I just watched Kareem (Kelly) and Darrel (Rideaux) and all our other guys (from Long Beach Polytechnic HS) play (at the collegiate level). It's like 'They are doing so well, and I wonder if I can hang at this level too.' It was a good feeling to go out there and just know that they were watching. I got a phone call right after the game from Darrel just screaming in my ear. It's just real exciting. That's what I'm looking forward to, just seeing everyone on the field that I played with in high school. Larry (Arizona running back Larry Croom) is going to be playing in this game so I'm excited
How much did the Poly experience help you handle the situation?
It's helped me a lot because we had so many great athletes at our school (and) we played against so many great athletes that are doing so well (that) it just helps out. Going to college you would think that your receivers would be faster, but in high school I had Kareem (Kelly) and Samie (Parker). They're all on the track team running 10.3's (in the 100 meters). It's crazy, but that's no knock on my receivers now. They're awesome and they all make big plays.
How beneficial has the bye week been to you?
Really good. It gives me a chance to just think about things and get all my thoughts together for Arizona. It lets me just adjust to the reps that I'm now getting in practice. (My reps) have doubled. It's also important for Teyo (Stanford second-string freshman quarterback Teyo Johnson) because his reps have gone up with the number two team. He has to prepare a lot more now, too. It's real good for him.
Did it make any difference that you didn't have classes until tomorrow (Wednesday, September 27)?
Yeah, it makes a whole lot of difference, actually. Classes for us start tomorrow (Wednesday, September 27) and that takes a lot out of your day. Before (classes) you can kind of just concentrate on football the whole time.
So it might have been tougher if it (moving into the starting quarterback role) happened two weeks from now?
It might have been a little tougher.
Can you talk about last year? A number of people have referenced how much you've matured and progressed since last year? Also, how difficult that first year is trying to get used to the system and adjusted to it? Were there points where you just sort of felt lost in the system last year?
Yeah, there was actually a lot of points where I felt lost with the system last year, but it's just slow. It's really hard for a QB to come into this program and learn that fast. It's really hard. I know that Todd (1999 Stanford starting quarterback Todd Husak) had to do it. He didn't get to redshirt and I just say 'Wow, how did you do that', because I was swimming last year. There are times that I just do not know what I'm doing out there. I would be just like hike the ball and just pretend like I knew. It was hard last year, again coming from Poly (Long Beach Poly HS), we got a lot of accolades and a lot of honors, and a lot of attention. Then you go in (to Stanford) and its like you're on the bottom rung and you're going to stay there a little bit because you have three really great quarterbacks ahead of you. That was a little adjustment, but I'm fine now. I'm a really patient guy.
Because of how hard it is just to get your feet under you and feel comfortable, how do you think that Teyo is adapting to having to jump into the situation?
Teyo is a little different than me. He has a lot more confidence than I did coming in. When he gets in the huddle, he is just like 'Let's go, come on, I know what I'm doing'.
You just smile?
I just smile. I am a smiler. Everyone (has) known me to be a smiler my whole life. For some reason, I like to smile. I don't think the game should stop me from smiling unless something really bad (happens).
You've thrown a lot of touchdown passes. Have you ever thrown one quite like that last one to DeRonnie (Pitts) (for the winning score in the 27-24 win over Texas)? Have you ever had a receiver do what he did to get it in there (the end zone)?
Not that I can think of. Not like that. I can remember a catch that Samie Parker, now at Oregon, caught. I threw it really short and the defensive back was going to pick it. Sammy was on his back and he just jumped over the guy and cradled the ball and ripped it out. That was amazing. But, I've never seen a receiver do that, just like flip over a guy. I played against Roderick Babers, the guy trying to tackle DeRonnie (on the touchdown play) in the Shrine game.
Do you have any plans to play volleyball at some time for Stanford?
I want to. I really miss it. It's definitely a great game to play. I don't know if I can, especially now. The situation has changed. I live right across the hall from my teammate when we won a national championship (at Long Beach Poly HS), I think it was my junior year. He's trying to get me out. I want to, but now my preparation and the whole football thing has skyrocketed, especially the last couple of weeks. So, I don't know if I'll get a chance to play (volleyball) or not. I want to though.
When you get the playbook, is it compared to what you had at Poly?
It's a little thicker, a lot of the same stuff in different sets. It's just so much. It's like 'I thought we were supposed to do this, but no in this situation you've got to do this.' It's a lot of that. It's a little overwhelming, but you've just got to sleep with it underneath your pillow and just keep attacking it one day at a time and you'll be fine.
Are you better prepared to play this game (versus Arizona) because you redshirted last year or would you be further along if you played some last year?
I'm actually glad I redshirted. It's really an honor to actually sit behind Todd Husak. He's such a smart quarterback. You just try to sit in meetings and just pick his mind. He says some amazing things. He could be an offensive coordinator. He's that smart. It was really good to see how everyone handles the situation, like when Joe (1999 Stanford second-string quarterback Joe Borchard) went in against UCLA, I was thinking about that during the Texas game. How you are just one snap away. He went in and he did well for us that game. It (redshirting) was really good. It took a lot of pressure on me. Last year, I had no pressure. I just had to concentrate on learning the playbook and getting ready for the next year.
I want to talk about major strengths with being able to read defenses and make audibles and knowing the system so well. That's one of the hardest things to do here. How comfortable do you feel (with that)?
I feel comfortable making audibles. We do it so much in practice (and) practice is so much like a game here. We're always going 100% (and) 100 miles an hour out there anyway. Like I said after the game, I get more nervous in practice when we do our two minute drill or something like that, than I really do in the game. I just pick weird times to be nervous.
How did your mindset change when Borchard decided to leave and then how has it changed even more this past week?
Borchard is obviously in a great situation playing baseball. I know he wants to play football, but it was just an opportunity (for me). You just see opportunities once he left and then once Randy went down, it's like 'This is probably the biggest opportunity I'm going to have (during) my time here at Stanford.' I just saw it all as different types of opportunities to step up.
How are last week and this week (as the starting quarterback) going to differ in practice (from being the second-string quarterback)? Is your sleep more fitful these days, worrying and that sort of thing?
My sleep's okay. I've been sleeping. I have no problem with sleeping. I just get more reps in practice. That's it. With Randy (Fasani) there, we usually just split reps down the middle. But now, I'm taking most of them, probably 75% of the plays. That's basically the difference, just different preparation for the game. I just have to know Arizona better than I knew Texas.
In the Texas game, when Randy goes down, you don't really have a lot of time to get nervous or think about it. You just kind of go right in there. But, now you have two weeks to think about it. Are your nerves going pretty good?
No. When Randy went down, I wasn't nervous. I was just thinking I need to get a center really fast so that I can get some snaps, because my hands were sort of cold. I just needed to get out there really fast because I saw that they were bringing him off.
You don't seem like the guy that (would) get rattled about anything after coming in against Texas. You kind of remain cool under fire. Is that an accurate statement that you don't get rattled?
Yeah, you could say that. For some reason, I just don't get nervous. I don't know why. I'll be nervous the first play. It's just like my sister (Stanford women's volleyball player and senior Robyn Lewis). She plays volleyball here (at Stanford). For some reason, we've never been the nervous kind of kids out there playing. I don't know why. I guess it's just genetics.
Is there something from your background growing up from your parents?
My dad would just always talk about that. Playing basketball out in the back, we would always do situations like there's no time on the clock (and) you have to make this free throw to win. Just growing up like that, we've always been really calm people. We know how to handle certain situations.
You said you know a little more about Arizona than you do Texas? (In) what way are you talking about?
I was just saying that I have to prepare differently for them (Arizona). I have to know them a little better than I did Texas, their whole schemes. The two teams run totally different schemes. I have to get in my scouting report and just learn them. That's basically it.
You were talking about not being nervous, Chris. Were you at all nervous going into that last drive against Texas knowing that you had to do it then? Were there any nerves at that point?
Actually, no. That was probably the time that I was most calm, actually. I looked in our center's eyes. He just kind of smiled. I was like, Zack (Stanford starting center Zack Quaccia), I'm already smiling. We just kind of nodded at each other like, yeah, obviously we have to do this. This is our last chance, so I just went in there (and did it). They (the offensive line) gave me enough time, and I got the ball to DeRonnie (Pitts) and he did it for us.
I talked to your Dad and he said it felt good (for you) to be sore on Sunday. It's kind of been a while. Did it feel good?
Actually, it feels really good. It's like I've done something today. It's not like I'm just sitting down the whole game. It's fun to be sore. Actually, it's not really fun to be sore but it was good to be back. I haven't felt sore since the Shrine game. It was really good to get back and sweat. It was hard to take off the pads after the game. I kind of liked that for some reason.
Having that game under your belt now, does it make it a lot easier and simpler coming into the game against Arizona?
I don't know about simpler. Arizona has a lot of great athletes. We've been watching a lot of film on them. They have a lot of great athletes that move around and they're really quick. I don't think it's going to be easier. It's going to be just another game that we're going to have to play our best game to get out of there with a victory.
Do you expect them to come at you, considering this is your first start?
I would. You've got a young QB. That seems to be the thing to do is to bring a lot of pressure at the youngster.
If your not feeling nerves, what are you feeling? Is it excitement still, getting the first start after coming in (off the bench)?
It's probably just more excitement. It's like, 'Yeah, let's go out there and make a play.' It's obviously fun to be on TV. It's more excitement than nerves.
What do you know about Arizona's defense?
I just know that they're really good. They've always been good forever, since I've been growing up. I don't know how we're going to attack them yet, but we'll try.
Chris, you were asked whether you were sleeping (and) you sort of laughed. Are you a renowned sleeper?
I don't know. I usually go to bed late, wake up early. (But) once I go to sleep, I'm out.
When you agreed to come to Stanford, you wanted to redshirt didn't you?
Yeah, I wanted to learn the system. I knew it was going to be tough, and I'd have my hands full. I wanted to redshirt.
That's kind of unusual for a quarterback that was as highly publicized as you were?
I wasn't really the one to make people recognize my accomplishments. I just came in and knew my role. I knew I wasn't going to come in and be this All-American like Michael Vick. I just wanted to be myself and just play within myself.
You mentioned knowing about Arizona's defensive tradition. Was Stanford passing tradition (and) its traditions of quarterbacks a factor to come here?
Yeah, I would always think about (John) Elway and (Steve) Stenstrom. I met Stenstrom before. That's really the reason why I came besides education. This is a quarterback factory.