Chris Hope is the Steelers' safety that few people talk about. In other words, he's not Troy Polamalu. Hope, however, might be as important to the Steelers' defense as Polamalu, as it is his steady play in the secondary that allows Polamalu to roam free and make plays. A proud Florida State Seminole, Hope is used to blending into a great defense. He's done it for Bobby Bowden, and he's doing it now for Bill Cowher.
Q: How would you compare where you're at this year compared to where you were last season?
A: Well, I've played pretty solid so far this season ...
Q: Because you have more experience?
A: Oh yeah. It's just knowing and understanding the speed of the game, understanding where my help is when I do have help, and understanding where I need to be. Also, I understand better what other teams are trying to do.
Q: Speaking of understanding, what do most people not get about the free safety position?
A: They don't understand how important it is to be under control and at the same time be physical, which is a must in our defense. A lot of people think anybody can play this position, but it's a lot harder than people think.
Q: What have you seen from Byron Leftwich that impresses you?
A: He has, probably, one of the strongest arms of any quarterback we will see this year. He knows his arm is real strong, so he'll try to take chances. Sometimes, you can feel like you are in coverage, that you're close enough, and he still gets the ball in there.
Q: Why are people so surprised by Florida State's strong start?
A: Maybe because in the past few years they haven't been as dominant as they had when I was there ... and probably because of the quarterback situation.
Q: You were down on Chris Rix?
A: I had the opportunity to play with Chris Weinke, who was pretty much the dominant quarterback in college football. Everybody got used to Weinke, and the way he played and won. Then Chris Rix came and kind of spoiled the dynasty. But that's all over now, so best of luck to Florida State.
Q: With that defense, the Seminoles don't need much luck, do they?
A: Not really. Look, we could always play defense.