On Tuesday's final practice before the N.C. State game:
We had a good practice. I thought we've practiced well ... we've just got to go play well. Sometimes on an off week, the big thing is you practice too much. I mean, you're ready to play. You're tired of practice.
You've got to remember the game time and get your preparation and get it done.
On QB Christian Ponder's health and the passing game
The passing game's fine. We've got to protect and get guys where they need to be and we'll be all right.
The guy has played one bad half. He's played great. He's leading us in third down (conversions) and led us in red zone (conversions). The guy has bounced back his whole career and he had one bad half. He'll play well and do well.
The arm's fine. He's throwing really well.
On the anticipated atmosphere at Carter-Finley Stadium:
It will be loud. It will be tough. It's a good environment, sitting down in that pit. We played up there a couple years ago and these guys were all there. We've just got to go up there and execute. They'll be ready to play. This is a big game for them; a big game for everybody. It's a conference game and they're building it up.
About FSU's running game which is producing 211 yards an outing:
We have executed well (in practice). We'll do what we do and try to execute it better; get the right looks and get them in and out of the right plays. I think we'll be in good shape.
We've ran well in practice the last two or three days; ran well against our defense, too.
How important it is to execute on third down and in the red zone against N.C. State:
It's crucial – third down, red zone and all those situations – when you get your opportunities you've got to score, because they score. You can't leave anything on the table. We have to be able to run it, throw and do what we have to do to get it in there. That's always huge in every ballgame and it's a big part of what we try and emphasize.
Why the 'Noles have been successful on third down and in the red zone:
It's two things. I think we're more physical and we're running the ball better. [Ponder] is making good decisions down there and getting us in the zone; winning with his legs. He's been scrambling and keeping plays alive. That's why we've played so well on third down. ... We're able to run the football, get manageable third downs, and when we're in the red zone we're not being caught in third-and-10 and [Ponder] has been able to bail us out.
On the how the team has benefited from the long break between games and how healthy they are:
There are a lot of guys that might not have played last Saturday that will definitely play and they feel a lot better right now.
On the challenges that Russell Wilson creates:
You cannot take a play off. Say they have 60 plays. If you play 57 great plays, the three that you didn't could be the difference in what changes the game. That's the thing with him – you've got to be on your toes all the time.
On the combination of Wilson and his veteran receivers:
They've been around. They've had that steady core of guys for a while and they throw it up. They're very systematic, they do a great job of reading (the defense) and know where they're going. They've got a good group. ... Don't forget their tight end. He's a great player, too.
On influence of Tom O'Brien on the Wolfpack:
They're a very well-coached, disciplined team. Tom's always been a great coach. His team plays just like his personality and the way he thinks.
We've embraced our few off days, I think it came at a great time for us so we could heal up. I think our kids are responding very well. We've had a good week of practice, and looking forward to going to Raleigh and playing a great North Carolina State football team.
They've done a great job. They're very dynamic, and we will definitely have to bring an A-game to that stadium in all three phases. Coach O'Brien has done a great job with them, and they're playing very well. They'll be juiced up and ready to play us when we get there. So we'll have a great challenge on our hands and hopefully we'll be ready for it.
I wanted to ask you about Russell Wilson and preparing for him and what he brings and his ability to move around. It seems he's moving more in the pocket just about the time to throw instead of scrambling as much as he did early in his career. Can you talk about some of the problems he presents?
Well, like I said, he can beat you from the pocket. He can beat you from outside the pocket. He can beat you running. But like you say, as a guy matures and he really understands what his offense is doing and the game slows down a little bit for him, you'll see a lot of guys scramble.
They'll do a great job of keeping their eyes up and be able to find those guys down field. His receivers do a good job in the scramble rules of getting where they need to get to, and he can make all the throws.
He's got terrific arm strength. He can throw it a mile, but he has touch, he's accurate. He's a complete football player and a very dynamic football player. Like I say, at any time and anyplace, he can make a play.
I just wonder what you see in terms of his numbers. They're still very, very good, but for a guy that kind of got famous for his non-interception streak and all that, he's turned the ball over a little bit this year. Is there a reason you see on film that maybe happens?
Sometimes you can look at interceptions in different ways. A guy doesn't throw interceptions, but how many chances does he take? Sometimes he can play too conservative, and sometimes you're aggressive and you make plays and interceptions occur.
Interceptions can be good and they can be bad. Because there is, at times if you're too cautious, you don't throw them, but you don't make plays either. Sometimes when you take opportunities and you're confident in your abilities, you're going to make a few throws in there that get tipped or guys make an interception on that. That's part of the game. But he always comes back and bounces back and makes plays, and sometimes we over-analyze that.
We don't want interceptions. You never want them, but you can't tell a guy to make all these plays but don't make a mistake. That's hard to do. When you're confident in your abilities and you have the abilities you have, sometimes you'll make one. But he also makes a lot of big plays with that too.
Moving to the other side of the ball for N.C. State, their linebacker Nate Irving, of course, he missed all of last season. Just wondered what you saw on film? He tends to be a guy who is involved in a lot of plays. How do you scheme for a guy like that?
You've got to know where he's headed at all times. He's very dynamic. He can rush the pass, plays pass coverage, gets his hands on a lot of balls and makes a lot of tackles. He's athletic and strong with his hands and plays a lot of instinct.
You definitely have to know where he's at.
He's the leader of their defense. You can see they rally around him. It's great to see him back on the field after what he overcame. It's a great testament to him. And we'll have our hands full with him because he'll be involved in a lot of plays and we know that.
Also, you guys are sitting at 4-0 in your division. I know you've still got four conference games left to play, but are guys feeling pretty good about their situation in the standings right now?
We don't even think about our standings right now. We're just thinking about playing well. We feel confident that we're playing better. We're getting better. Hopefully we'll continue to get better each week, and that's our goal.
We can't worry about our standings or where we're at. What we have to do is control what we can control and that is trying to play well in this football game. That is the only focus we have. We're not caught up in all of the other things. We have goals of where we want to go. But like I tell them, to get to a goal, you have to take it one step at a time.
The biggest step we have now is playing a great North Carolina State team. So don't worry about the outcomes or things you can't control. The only thing you can control now is preparing well and trying to play well when you go to Raleigh.