O'Brien: Confidence a Factor in Pack's Start

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State head coach Tom O'Brien met with the media to discuss the upcoming game against East Carolina.

Tom O'Brien

Thoughts on DB performance thus far:
I think we're much better than we were a year ago. I think we understand the concepts much better. Last year we spent a lot of time coaching on the run and coaching kids that weren't really ready to play the game, that would have been better off being redshirted but due to injuries and lack of depth they had to play.

I think through spring practice and summer camp they have a much better understanding of what the concepts are and what we're asking them to do. Consequently they are in better position, they are lined up better, their actions are better, and they are anticipating.

The three freshmen have been a great addition. Someone said, and this maybe the case, that they haven't seen three freshmen like this in secondary in a long time. It's good for us that they've been there because it creates competition. They've helped us on special teams.

[David] Amerson, we thought from the start that he might be a special-type of player and he gets better each and every week and hopefully he can continue to get better. Certainly those two safeties, as one of our wide receivers said during the summer, "those are the kind of guys we're used to playing against."

Thoughts on ECU's offense putting pressure on defense:
It puts it on the back seven because they spread the field so much and make you play in space. You have to be so much better as far as tackling and getting them on the ground because a lot of it is catching the ball and run after the catch with it.

This will be a really good challenge to see if we tackle better Saturday than we did the previous Saturday, but we're going to have our hands full on Saturday, especially with Harris getting him on the ground.

Thoughts on playing ECU every year:
Not every year. From now on one of us will play either there or at home against them, and that gives us some other scheduling options every two years and then two years we'll play home-and-away against them. I think it's better that way.

How special was it for you that the team presented you with the game ball on Saturday?
It's nice that they were thinking of me. As I said before, there was nothing personal about winning that football game, but for them to do that and think of me that was the special part of it.

Team Concerns Right Now:
Right now we're banged up. We haven't had any time off to speak of. No one is hurt and out of the game, just the list of guys with bangs, bruises, the seventh game in a row you get to that point.

As I said Saturday, we were a little heavy-legged due to the stretch we just went through with Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, and you get to that spot there. That's the biggest concern right now.

Thoughts on Terrell Manning:
Terrell, we were really happy with his progress at the end of last year and when Jon Tenuta got here his move of putting Nate in the middle enabled him to be a full-time player. I think playing alongside Nate helps a lot too, and the scheme we're using.

We thought he was a heckuva player coming in, and he's proven to be a good football player, but like the rest of us he's got to continue to get better.

Surprised by your team's start?
I have no idea. Starting off, I just try to concentrate on each game. There were some definite land mines in the way early that we overcame, and once you start winning in those situations I think your confidence starts to grow and that's one thing this team needed, confidence.

The talent was there, but the problem comes in the last couple of years. Every time you took a step forward you took two steps back with injuries, and I think collectively everybody was kind of waiting for this, that or everything bad to happen. When good things started to happen they just kept happening.

UNC announced today that it is going to implement a program in which football players are going to have sign out, where you're going, who you are going with, who's paying, etc... Do you have anything like that?
No we don't.

Do you plan on it?
I would hope not.

Thoughts on running the ball against ECU:
You always have to gameplan to what your best chances are to win the football game. If that's part of the gameplan, you have to run the ball to win, with the exception of last week that's always been part of the gameplan. I'm sure it's going to be a part of the gameplan this week, you have to be able to run the football.

Thoughts on ECU's running game:
They spread the field on you, get you spread all over the field, and get one guy caught out of his gap and there's a lot of green grass out there.

We have to be very smart, maintain our gap control, and beat one-on-one blocks up front if we're going to do any damage in stopping the running game.

They do a good job with that offense. They understand it, it's a good system, and the system has won a lot of games for a lot of people at Texas Tech prior to them getting there.

They know how to fix it and how to run it, so it's going to be a big challenge... they actually make you defend sideline-to-sideline.

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