O'Brien: Defense Should Be Strong Early

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Tom O'Brien met the media following Tuesday's morning practice and discussed how NC State is looking to progress from scrimmage one to scrimmage two and the progression of the incoming group of freshmen.

Tom O'Brien Audio

Your offensive guys have been really complimentary of the defense. How has the defense looked?
"As we said coming in, the first defense there is a lot of experience on that defense. Basically you have D.J. Green who hasn't started and has probably played less than anybody else but there is a lot of returning veterans on that football team. They should be playing well at this point. The key is can they get better to the next scrimmage? The whole purpose of this is to work on fundamentals.

"The same thing, when you play your first game you are always better that next week because you finally played a game. We finally had a scrimmage and now it's time to step up and get better before we get to the second one. They get to see themselves on tape and get to know what they have to work on."

Are there any particular benchmarks you look for a week into camp?
"As we said going into the first scrimmage, the thing that concerns you the most is you want to hold onto the ball on offense and you want to tackle on defense. It was appreciably a lot [less] missed tackles because there is a lot more experience, guys are running to the ball and gang tackling and being around the ball.

"We're not perfect, we still had probably half a dozen in an 80-play scrimmage but it's better than we've had in past years. That's all part of the experience of being in the system, being in the defense and knowing where they are supposed to be.

For the defense, it was a fundamental first scrimmage. For eight practices, they watched the same thing on offense. They ought to be pretty good."

Do you see any opportunities for true freshmen to step in and contribute like David Amerson did last year?
"As of today I would say no. After the first scrimmage we are really happy with the freshman class but we're finally to a point where we don't have to count on them, where they can redshirt and get themselves academically better off after one year.

"That doesn't mean a week from now I'll change my mind but right now at this point, it's a good freshman class, it rates up there with any of the freshman classes we've had but now we've got some depth in the program and don't have to count on them."

Is the goal to redshirt all of them not involved in the kicking game?
"Today, yes. Tomorrow, maybe not. That's what we're going through right now, that is the process. We don't know what injuries are going to take place, hopefully none, knock on wood and we hang in there."

How is the rhythm between Mike and the wide receivers?
"It's been really good. You can obviously tell that they spent a lot of time this summer and it was an important time for them out here on their own a couple of times a week just trying to get timing down, getting the throws down. This isn't just eight practices they've been doing it, they have been doing it since May."

Thoughts on D.J. Green progressing at linebacker:
"D.J. Green has made a good step from the spring. That happens with a lot of those young guys when they get the opportunity in the spring and then they go back and spend time on their own studying tape of the spring. Studying tape from last year, he goes back and looks at what he did in the spring and what Audie [Cole] did in the spring the previous years. 'Am I doing it how Audie did it? Am I doing it the right way?' He has that little more experience and with experience comes more confidence when you play."

What changes do you like about the new uniforms?
"If the players like [the uniforms] then I like them. It's important if they like them because they wear them, to me, I don't have anything to do other than make sure we don't end up like NASCAR with everything all over us.

Does it matter to you that it has State across the front?
"No, it doesn't matter to me. If that is what we're going to have on all our uniforms then certainly we should comply with that. I know that is the way we've always been referred to from my previous time in the ACC so that's fine with me. That's great.

"They play for the name on the front of the jersey, not the back."

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