Stephen Garcia walked into the interview room last Saturday, a few minutes after another solid performance. Right away, he was told that coach Steve Spurrier, who just left the room, had been rather complimentary of Garcia's game.
The quarterback hesitated a second, then smiled.
"I guess I played good, then," Garcia said.
The room laughed.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about Garcia's season so far is that he is drawing praise from his tough-to-please coach.
"He's made tremendous progress," Spurrier said Wednesday morning, then added that he and his staff members were talking about that in the office a few minutes before.
Make no mistake, there are no immediate plans to build statues of Garcia outside Williams-Brice Stadium. The season is five games old. The redshirt sophomore isn't leading the SEC in any categories and doesn't rank in the top 10 in pass efficiency.
But he has been steady, which is all that's been called for so far.
He has thrown two interceptions this season, the last one coming 116 attempts ago. He is averaging 207 passing yards per game. And while he only has six touchdown passes, four of them to receiver Tori Gurley have been negated by penalties.
Garcia has put the team in position to win by either not making mistakes, or doing just enough. That was the plan all along, according to first-year quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus.
Having done that, Garcia may be ready to do more.
"We talked all spring about managing the game and taking care of the ball, number one," Mangus said. "Then when you learn how to do that and you prove you can do that and we can trust you to do that, then you continuously, and a little bit of the time, you let the leash get a little bit longer."
No one has questioned Garcia's arm strength or speed. His decision-making and accuracy have been up for debate.
The turnovers, or lack of more of them, speak to Garcia's progress there.
Spurrier was encouraged by how accurate Garcia was in the third quarter against S.C. State.
"He was just a tiny bit open, and sometimes you've just got to make a perfect pass. And Stephen threw about three of them right there in the third quarter that were right there where they needed to be which were some big completions," Spurrier said.
Perhaps improvement was inevitable. The third-year player had never gone through a spring practice before this year, and he had eight months to prepare as the unquestioned starter.
That may have shown last week. He saw very limited snaps in practice, but still played most of the way and very well against S.C. State.
"I'm actually very comfortable with the offense right now," Garcia said after the game. "This is my fifth start this year. I'm pretty comfortable with the offense. I wasn't really worried about it too much."
When he got the job, Mangus determined almost right away from watching film that Garcia had tried to do too much. Even watching film of last year's game against Kentucky, perhaps his best performance of the season, Garcia made a few "if I knew then what I know now" comments to Mangus.
At times, Garcia has not taken advantage of running room. Mangus said the coaches have told him not to be afraid to scramble.
But other times that proved to be the right decision. The final pass against N.C. State, Garcia seemed to have plenty of room to scramble, but he waited and hit Moe Brown for a 33-yard pass, putting the game away.
So what comes next? The coaches seem ready to put more of the game in Garcia's hands, whether it's with more downfield passes or calling more check-down plays.
The important thing, according to Mangus, is that Garcia gets better every week. If they can say that at the end of the year, they'll be happy.
"His decision-making is getting better, and that's the thing," Mangus said. "When the decision-making gets better, then the trust factor gets better, then you can allow him to do more things. So that's kind of where we're at."