O'Brien: "You Better Not Miss A Practice"

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State head coach Tom O'Brien met with the media today following practice. He provided updates on A.J. Ferguson, Robert Caldwell, and Mustafa Greene, and also talked about the depth along the defensive line.

Tom O'Brien

How much work were you able to get the freshmen in the scrimmage?
We did three teams. The third team basically is all the freshmen, so they got 23 plays, which is pretty good. It's the most we've ever got them there.

We'll try to get them more in the second scrimmage and then make some determinations on which guys we think can help us as we go forward to the third and fourth scrimmage.

Is this the first time you've been able to have a third unit like that?
Yes, it's the first time we've practiced three teams and can consistently practice three teams.

Guys get banged up here and there but with them being able to help us out there we've had three deep.

Thoughts on defensive line depth after losing two NFL draft picks.
You've got three teams worth of guys who have been redshirted and are able to play. That's where the competition comes in right now. We have to sort that all out.

It's good to have have 12 plus guys and you aren't worried about burning a redshirt year. They've played and have experience.

It's good competition right now. You better not miss a practice or you're going to lose a spot.

You paid a price last year early with injuries but it may have paid off with the added experience along the defensive line.
That's always the case. When you are playing guys ahead of their time it's not good for the immediate spot that you are in but it's certainly good for the future.

We went through that with the secondary three years ago and the defensive line last year.

Ferguson and Mustafa were out there. Is that a sign?
Ferguson's grades have posted and Mustafa's haven't yet. As of 8:30 his grades weren't in, but he is working on his own. Ferguson has been out working on his own... he's been a part of practice a couple of days.

His posted yesterday... I checked before I came down to see you guys Monday night and neither had posted but his posted finally.

They've been able to work out because they have still been eligible until... but that's where we are right now.

Is [Robert] Caldwell out here?
Caldwell was cleared finally and is out here. NC State finally accepted all of his paperwork.

It helps with Peek's injury to have some more depth at linebacker.
That's one of the spots we couldn't afford to have an injury, especially a kid like Peek. Even though he was listed behind Dowdy starting off this, he was a physical kid that played a lot last year. He was the only freshman on the two-deep when we started the season at the linebacker spot.

He probably had a little more experience than anybody coming into this year in particular with his class.

Which linebacker position do you see Caldwell lining up at?
Somewhere in the middle. One of the box guys, somewhere in the box... not a field guy.

Thoughts on Sterling Lucas:
He's got natural leadership abilities. He's really a charismatic kid. Last year he used it to his advantage. He knows more about the defense than anyone out there and it allows him to get the young kids lined up... get the guys in front of him int he right spot.

As things move on the offensive side he's got to make adjustments on the defensive side... he makes them much quicker than anyone else on the football field.

Has anyone stepped up at wide receiver?
I don't know if I can say definitively yes or no. We're playing everybody right now and we're more into rotations and getting guys in there and look at as many guys as we can before we start cutting back and focusing in on guys.

There's nobody right now... you'd have to say the guys that have played with experience are ahead of the guys with inexperience that haven't played.

Obviously Manny Stocker might have to play as a true freshman. Are there any others?
Yes, but I don't know who they are. I can't give you a definitive answer... there's enough talent in that class that they are going to find their way on to the field.

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