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Heralded QB sees first prime action

Xavier Lee enters for the third series then plays most of the second half, going 5-for-11 with a TD.

By MICHAEL McGUFFEE
Published September 24, 2006


TALLAHASSEE - Xavier Lee finally got significant playing time Saturday.

After redshirting in 2004, the Florida State quarterback appeared in seven games in limited duty last season. And he entered for the final play of last weekend's loss to Clemson, throwing a long incompletion.

Saturday, he replaced Drew Weatherford for the third series, with FSU ahead of Rice 14-7, then played most of the second half. Lee completed 5 of 11 passes for 111 yards and a touchdown.

"Definitely got the cobwebs out," Lee said. "I got hit a couple of times - felt good. I'm just happy to be out there and be able to play."

Lee led Florida State to three scoring drives, including a 57-yard touchdown to Greg Carr with 4:33 left.

"I thought it was good experience for him," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said. "He's not as sharp yet as he has got to get for us to win in the conference. The thing he needs right now is playing time. He missed a lot of spring training and missed a lot at the end of (last season) with his shoulder (injury).

"He just needs experience. He missed a couple (of passes); not a lot, just a couple, which I think he'll get once he settles down."

Lee's big-play potential showed on the late touchdown, but other first-half opportunities for the touted recruit from Daytona Beach were disrupted by miscues. His first series ended when Chris Davis fumbled after catching Lee's first pass for a 22-yard gain.

A deep pass in the closing minutes of the second quarter could have led to another score had it not been called back because of a holding penalty. Lee, while taking a hit, launched the ball 60 yards downfield to the outstretched hands of Carr.

"I heard it was a good throw, but I didn't really see it because I was on the ground," Lee said. "All I had to do was get it up in the air so he could make a play for me, and that's what he did."

Lee said the offensive coaches told him before the game he would play on the third series no matter the circumstances. Saturday, it was after Weatherford led two touchdown drives.

"I was a little reluctant to let Lee come in on the first series," Bowden said. "The offensive staff wanted to do that, and I questioned them really good before the game. The offense scored a couple of more times, and the offensive staff thought it would be wise to get Lee in on a third series, and they did. At least he got some good experience. We probably wouldn't have done it if we had been tied up."

The redshirt sophomore said he hopes to earn additional playing time and believes a two-quarterback system could be effective because it would be difficult for defenses to prepare.

"I came here to play, and I'm glad the coaches gave me an opportunity so I could show them what I can do," Lee said.

"I made a couple of big plays, and I also made a couple mistakes. But that's what playing does to you. You get experience, and you gain confidence."