Posted by ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich
Florida State (1-1) will have its hands full this weekend when it travels to No. 7 BYU (2-0) for a statement game for both programs. The Noles bring the speed, the Cougars have the discipline. Earlier this week, I caught up with FSU tight end Caz Piurowski to get his take on the game. Piurowski has become more involved in the passing game this year, and it has paid off for the Noles.
He caught five passes for a single-season career-high 111 yards in the first two games. Of those five catches, four have ended in a first down and three have come on touchdown drives, including his own 10-yard touchdown reception against Miami. He has already caught as many passes as he did in 10 games during the 2007 season and needs only four receptions to establish a new single-season personal best for receptions.
Here are the highlights of our interview:
Let’s just start with the basics. What do you see from BYU on film and how big of a challenge is this really going to be for you guys?
Caz Piurowski: I think they are a legit team. They are real good. Their biggest thing is they don’t make mistakes. They know their assignments. They play good, fundamentally sound football and make you beat yourself. I think that’s probably going to be the biggest key to us winning is not making those mistakes, us just knowing our assignments and doing what we practiced. I think if we do that, we can be successful against them.
How badly do you guys need this win, especially coming off that performance against Jacksonville State?
CP: It would be a huge thing for us, it will show the fans and us how the season is going to go. Obviously against Miami I thought that we played well. We just didn’t come out on top. Sometimes that happens. Against Jacksonville State we came out on top but we didn’t play well. Going against a good opponent will show us what we’re made of and show everyone how the rest of our season is going to go.
How did you guys react the day after, how did you respond to that? Some people (like me), were like, ‘whoa.’
CP: The biggest thing is we won. Obviously that’s the most important thing. Of course we would’ve liked to have played better and won by a lot more, but I still think we showed some toughness not giving up. Even though we weren’t playing well, we knew we had opportunities going into the fourth quarter and into that last drive. Everyone still had confidence. We still felt like we could pull it out and we ended up doing that. I think it was a positive that came from the game. Obviously we made a lot of mistakes, didn’t play near as well as we could have or should have. Some people were disappointed about that, but the biggest thing was we won. It was our first victory of the season. That will go a long way.
What did you guys learn from that game?
CP: Basically we learned it doesn’t matter who you’re playing, you have to come out ready to play. Whether you’re playing BYU, Miami, some of the top D-I teams or a lower division team, it doesn’t matter. It’s still college football, and if you don’t come out ready to play, come out ready to execute, there’s a chance you’re not going to be successful.
I’m one of the people who was hyping up the offensive line. I know Rick Trickett hasn’t been exactly thrilled with the way they’ve played so far. How do you think they have been playing, and do you think they’ve played up to their potential so far?
CP: I don’t think they’ve been playing horrible. I don’t think they're anywhere near their potential, though. Last year they showed some spurts of being a very good, very solid offensive line. Right now, obviously the way the running is going, running-wise I think there’s a lot less on the table, a lot they can improve on. When I say that, I include myself and the other tight ends as part of the offensive line, because 50 percent of the time we’re out there blocking with them -- long runs or negative runs. They’ve done a real good job of pass blocking for [Christian] Ponder. He’s had a lot of time on the majority of plays. There are some plays obviously where he hasn’t, but I think they made big huge improvements from last year on that. I think it will be no time at all before that running game gets picked back up.
Where do you think the program is right now on the national landscape or do you think you guys need this game to help figure that out?
CP: I don’t think we need it, per se. I think a lot of other people probably are looking at it that way. We know we have the talent and we’re right up there with the elite teams in the nation talent-wise. We haven’t been as productive as some of those teams the last couple of years, and the beginning of this year, but the biggest thing with that is the learning process. It takes time. It’s not going to come overnight. I’ve seen huge improvements this since this coaching staff has gotten here, just with everything -- the way we practice, the way we meet, the way we handle ourselves on and off the field. It’s a complete turnaround. We’re still in the process of that. It hasn’t been totally finished, but I think we’re really close to being back up there at that elite level where people will be talking about us in the national championship picture.
Tell me a little bit about BYU’s defense. Everybody talks about Max Hall, but what kind of defense will you be facing?
CP: Their greatest strength is they’re fundamentally sound. They make you beat yourself as far as our offense goes. They’re big, strong guys. I think we’ll have them speed-wise, which will give us the advantage as far as that goes, but speed isn’t going to make that big of a difference when they’re getting their assignments right. We’ve got to be fundamentally sound to compensate for that.
You’re one of the guys on the team who’s a legacy player. [His father, Paul, was an All-American linebacker at FSU from 1977-80.] How much do you guys talk about what’s going on with football?
CP: We talk every day. I talk to him every night, just let him know how I did at practice, let him know how the team did. He’s real into that. He wants to know everything that’s going on still, and wants to know the ins and outs and stuff. We constantly talk about the changes, the improvements that are being made, with me personally and the team. He’s a huge part of that with me.
How much more confident are you out there this year? You’re having a pretty good season.
CP: A lot more confident in the passing game. Last year I was confident in blocking and I still have that. I wasn’t not confident, but when you don’t get the ball thrown to you that many times it’s hard to be 100 percent confident. The coaches are confident in me, but I think I’ve earned their trust. I’ve earned Christian’s trust and confidence. Hopefully that will carry over to me getting more balls thrown my way.
If there is one thing you would say the offense needs to improve upon heading into this BYU game to make a difference and come out with a win, what would it be?
CP: I think it would just be the little things. Going back to the last couple of games, there’s been a lot of big plays that were there that we missed because one person didn’t have his hands in the right position, something like that. If everyone concentrates on the little things, it will make a huge difference.