O'Brien: "This Is A Great Game"

N.C. State head coach Tom O'Brien discussed his football team during his weekly teleconference. O'Brien discusses this week's game against North Carolina and much more.

Opening Statement:
We're certainly hard at work trying to get ready to play a very good North Carolina football team. This is a great game. Glad to be part of it. Excited about the fact it's at home. Look forward to kickoff starting 12:30 on Saturday.

Coach, what kind of problems does Giovani Bernard present for your defense, the things he can do?
Well, he has very good quickness. He has good vision. When you have a line that has three guys that are 6'7", a couple 6'3", 6'2", guys all 300 pounds, he gets behind them and he pops out.

The thing he has, he has breakaway speed. He runs away from people, great cuts, has good vision. It will be a great challenge for our team.

What about his ability to catch passes out of the backfield?
Well, that's always a plus. I think Coach Shoop does a good job of using him in that capacity. He's a complete player and has done a good job so far this year.

I know you have tried to put the Florida State loss behind you and move on immediately. Do you sense this week they've been doing that or is that one of those easier said than done kind of things?
No, they put it behind them on Sunday. It's easy when you have an opponent like North Carolina coming in here to forget everything else except what we have to get done for this Saturday.

In terms of looking at the Carolina game, do you feel like you are still at that point, how much of a gap is there between the two programs? Is it really as close as the past couple scores have indicated or do you sense because of the way you have been playing recently you're headed in different directions?
I have no idea. I mean, I don't understand what you're asking. I think we'll compete very good here on Saturday.

Coming off that game last week, point of emphasis about how you played against UVA.
Goes back to the fundamentals. Certainly we have to protect the quarterback, that has to be number one. That will be a challenge with their front four. They do a great job of putting pressure on the quarterback. Brown, he's the number one sacker and number one tackler. He does a great job rushing the passer, too.

Those things each and every week, whether you win or lose, you have to move on to the last week and learn from the last. Hopefully we've learned our lesson and move on to the next game.

Learned your lesson in terms of the pass protection?

Coach, you guys had been running the ball effectively in recent games. It obviously didn't happen. Was that a function of the way the game went or Florida State's defense?
I think a combination of Florida State's defense. They're fourth in the nation against the run, number one defense in the conference. When you get to a certain point, you're forced to throw the football, they know what you're doing, it compounds a lot of problems that you can have against a defense that's like that.

We couldn't establish anything early in the first quarter. I think that was a bad thing for us.

Was this a step back?
No. I mean, we still have to get better. The previous two weeks we played awfully well, the previous two games. So you have to count it as a setback. There's still a lot of football left. You have these things back and forth during the season.

Whether it's a long-term problem, we're going to start finding out here on Saturday.

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