Underdog Dynasty was able to get in touch with FIU quarterback Alex McGough. McGough holds the FIU record for passing touchdowns in a career with 48 touchdowns and played a pivotal role in making FIU one of the best stories of college football in 2017 during Butch Davis’ first year in Miami. McGough shares his thoughts on playing for two head coaches with ties to the NFL, his time as a Panther, and how he’s preparing to get ready for FIU’s Pro Day.
Cyrus Smith: Being from Tampa, what convinced you to call Miami your next home and play for Ron Turner at FIU?
Alex McGough: I only had two offers coming out of high school. I had Colgate University which is in Upstate New York, and then I had FIU near South Beach in Miami. It was only four hours away from my house so my parents were able to come down and watch the games so that was a factor. Another big reason was coach Turner. He had so many ties to the NFL with his brother being an OC (offensive coordinator) and then head coach with the Chargers. I think that was a huge reason why I chose FIU.
Cyrus: Take me through your progressions as a four-year starter. What improvements did you make year-to-year to get you to become one of the best players in FIU history?
Alex: Starting freshman year was tough because you’re still getting used to college and being on your own. College football is so much more different than high school football. It’s so more demanding on your body.
You see strides year-to-year as far as gaining experience and football IQ. The more time you play, the more experience you gain, the better you become. I think by senior year I was just so mature and that really helped me on the field.
Cyrus: What are some of the most memorable moments you had as a Panther?
Alex: Last year after we beat UTSA to get our 6th win to become bowl eligible. The emotions that went with not making a bowl game my first three years to locking in a trip to a bowl game, was one of the best experiences in my life and something I’ll never forget.
Cyrus: You’ve had the opportunity to play for two head coaches with ties to the NFL in Butch Davis and Ron Turner. What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned that has helped you in your preparation for the NFL?
Alex: Some of the bigger things I’ve learned is how to study film. There’s so many different ways to study film. Coach Turner has one way and coach Davis has another way so I think in learning from both guys I was able to create my own personal style. With my next coach I’ll be able to use what they teach me and improve my game.
Cyrus: As an FAU alum I have to ask you about playing in the Shula Bowl. What are the most memorable moments you have from that game? What does it feel like to see both programs on the rise?
Alex: Junior year. It was the first drive and I dove at the pylon. It was a big play for our team to start off the game and get the momentum going. You know, it’s becoming such a big thing, with Lane Kiffin and Butch Davis going at it and I’m really looking forward to next year’s game.
Cyrus: In the bowl game you suffered a fractured collarbone. How has the rehab process been?
Alex: The rehab process is going great. I’m getting the best possible treatment I can and I’ve been attacking the process to make sure I’m 100 percent come Pro Day.
Cyrus: Which quarterbacks in the NFL do you mold your game after?
Alex: One is Tom Brady. The way he carries himself off the field and the way he takes care of his body. His whole persona as a person is someone who I want to be when I grow up.
On the field it’s Aaron Rodgers. The way he can extend plays and make every throw in the pocket that need be. When the pocket breaks down he has the best on the run throw that I’ve ever seen. He’s just so accurate with it.
Cyrus: Do you see yourself as a dual-threat quarterback or a pocket passer?
Alex: I see myself as a balanced quarterback. I think I have the ability to sit in the pocket and make all the throws but I also have the ability that if the pocket breaks down, I can extend the play and make throws on the run.
Cyrus: What are you biggest strengths as a passer and what are you trying to improve?
Alex: I think making throws on the run is one of my best attributes whether that be going left or right. I think I am fast and quick, and make great decisions on the run. I believe that’s a big part of my game. I’m also a leader. My teammates wanted to play for me and I wanted to play for them too. I love to have people follow me and I think I thrive in that role.
Things that I’m addressing in training for the Pro Day is my deep ball. I throw the deep ball a little short sometimes just because I try to give the receiver a chance. But at the next level there’s guys that are so talented that you just have to let them go make a play.
Cyrus: You have an advantage on the other quarterbacks in this draft class as far as experience and games started. Does that make you feel like you have a leg up on the other quarterbacks?
Alex: I have four years under my belt as a starter. I think that’s a huge advantage because experience is one of the bigger factors in playing quarterback.
Cyrus: Who has the better beaches? Miami or Tampa?
Alex: Miami for sure. That’s an easy one. The water is so much clearer.
Cyrus: What do you listen to on Gameday?
Alex: I listen to EDM music. I listen to the beats to get in a rhythm. I try to stay away from all the hype up music and rap songs. No need to get all riled up because I don’t need to go hit anybody and get all crazy.
Cyrus: What does it feel like to be apart of the senior class that turned around the FIU football program in Butch Davis’ first year?
Alex: It’s a great feeling. That was one of our goals at the beginning of the year. What legacy are we going to leave as a senior class? We could have easily said “Oh, well, we’ve never made a bowl game so what’s gonna change now?” but we really dug deep. We put a great stamp on the history books at FIU.
Thanks again to Alex McGough for taking the time to share his thoughts as an FIU Panther and how he’s preparing for the draft process. Alex works out at ASPI in Tampa, and is currently training with quarterbacks coach John Kaleo. Alex expects to be 100 percent healthy for FIU’s Pro Day on March 29th.