Camp O'Brien: Everette Sands Q&A

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State running backs coach Everette Sands talks about his expectations for the season and the battle for the starting job between his tailbacks.

What is the focus for the backs during the first few days of camp?
Big-time fundamentals... if they can't get it now they aren't going to be able to get it once the pads go on. Doing a lot of footwork type stuff because we have a little more individual time so we have a little more chance to work on those things. They are the things that you see during practice but a lot of times you just don't have time to work on them.

Without Mustafa Greene for the first part of the year, how much of a battle is there going to be for the starting job
It's going to be a race, and really, it's too early to tell. We'll have to wait to get the pads on. Right now [James] Washington, [Curtis] Underwood, [Brandon] Barnes and [Tony] Creecy are all in the mix.

With Underwood missing spring practice, is Washington the front-runner going into camp?
[In the spring] Washington pretty much solidified himself as a guy who's going to be a viable guy. Underwood, he wasn't here, so we have to see.

What has impressed you so far about Tony Creecy?

Creecy... he's going to be a talent. He has good change of direction, he's smooth and he's a tough kid from what I saw in the spring. He is going to be a guy who's in the mix.

Do you expect to split carries or would you prefer one guy step up and claim the job?
We are going to have at least two guys playing a lot, but someone needs to step up and say, ‘This is my job, I'm the starter.' That's what I'd like to see, someone step up and say, ‘I'm the starter and you are the guy that's gonna come in after I get some things done.'

You were a power runner when you played – is that something you want to see out of your players this fall?
As far as running tough – yeah. That's one of the things I'm looking to see from these other guys once we put the pads on. Who has that? Who can bring that to the table?

What's the one thing that you want your backs to avoid this season? Is it as simple as fumbles?
I don't like to use that word – I say failure to protect and secure the ball. And that is the big thing – that is it. It's one thing that we can't have because there's only one football on the field at the time. The team is putting their faith in us and putting it in our hands and we have to make sure we are protecting and securing it.

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