Are you excited about entering a new season?
Garrard: "I’m very excited. This is my first time going into a new year as a starter, so I can’t be anything but excited."
What is different about being the starter as opposed to being the backup?
Garrard: "Well, that’s just it. I am the starter. Coach [Del Rio] has given me a lot of respect and the guarantee that, ‘Hey, this is your job.’ So I don’t have to look over my shoulder or think about what happens on this play if something goes wrong. I can just go out there and play and do my job."
Would you have preferred to be named the starting QB earlier in the offseason?
Garrard: "I think I’ve been preparing pretty good throughout this whole time because you never know if something happens to your starter in OTAs or in training camp, that you could easily go in as the starter if they get injured or anything like that. I think it was pretty good no matter what. I’m just glad I had a couple days to let it sink in. I had Saturday and Sunday off, so I felt like that was a good amount. But I think it’s just a great opportunity for me to just go out and finally just be a starter."
Have you talked to Byron Leftwich and if so, how has Byron reacted to being cut?
Garrard: "I text [messaged] him. He was already gone by the time I found out. I texted him and just told him good luck to him and he’s always on my mind as a friend. He texted me back and said, ‘Do your thing. Good luck to you.’ That was good for me and hopefully it meant something to him."
Were you surprised to be named the starting QB?
Garrard: "I was very surprised. I had no idea. You don’t see this happen too many times this close to the opening game. There were no indications that it was going to happen. So I was surprised."
What is your confidence in the Jaguars’ run game?
Garrard: "I definitely feel like, as long as everybody’s on the same page and working hard, the run game is definitely going to be a key because we have two great backs. I think as long as we put the ball in their hands, you never know what’s going to happen."
Was last year’s game against the Titans in Nashville frustrating?
Garrard: "(Laughter) Well, I threw a lot of touchdowns in that game. They just all weren’t in our favor. I’ve never been a part of a game like that. I don’t think I’ve ever even seen a game like that, where one person has that many turnovers and they all get returned. I’ve seen that many turnovers, but not that many [that were taken] back to the house. It definitely was a frustrating day. But you know what? I’ve learned a lot from that game and I’ve moved on. Hopefully I think that I’m going to use a lot of those things that happened in that game and in games before that to my best effort."
Do you feel that Jacksonville has underachieved the past few seasons?
Garrad: "I think if you don’t have luck sometimes, and you have a lot of injuries, it can seem that way. I definitely think we’re moving in the right direction right now. It starts this weekend. I think we can erase a lot of things that have happened before to us in the past."
Have you seen any differences in head coach Jack Del Rio this season?
Garrard: "I think he’s just as excited as we are. This is probably a good time for him. I haven’t seen any difference. He’s still coaching the same and still getting on guys the same. So no, there’s no difference."
Could Coach Del Rio’s job be in jeopardy if the Jaguars don’t improve this season?
Garrard: "I think every player and coach in the league is always on the hot seat if you don’t pan out the way that fans and the organization want you to. That’s with anybody. I’m sure that we’re going to do fine this year and coach will be fine for himself."
How are the tight ends coming along with the absence of Kyle Brady this year?
Garrard: "Definitely Kyle Brady was a great tight end. He was a fabulous blocking tight end and he still could catch the ball as well. So it’s always going to be tough to fill that kind of a spot. But we have some really great tight ends here with Marcedes Lewis and George Wrighster, and they’re going to make a lot of things happen this year for themselves and make a great name for themselves."
What are your impressions of the Titans’ new defense this year?
Garrard: "I think they’re going to be just as tough as they always are. They have a great pass-rush, they have a great linebacking crew and their secondary is going to be fabulous as well. They might be filling in new guys, but it’s the NFL. Guys are going to get out there, they’re hungry and they’re going to try to make plays. I’m going to try my best not to allow that. But they practice just like we do. We have to be ready for everything."
What are your impressions of Vince Young?
Garrard: "Not being on the defensive side of the ball, but just thinking as a quarterback, I think he’s a great athlete. He can make a lot of plays with his arm and his legs. He’s a whole lot faster than I am, so he makes me look slow. But he’s going to do a lot of great things this year. The sky’s the limit for him. He’s on every different media thing and marketing thing, and he’s still handling himself well. So he’ll be fine. I’m sure the coaches will do a great job this year of getting him in the best situations possible and allowing him to just be an athlete."