O'Brien: Underwood May Play

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State head coach Tom O'Brien met with the media today to discuss the opener against Tennessee and announced that sophomore wideout Bryan Underwood was back at practice.

Tom O'Brien

Can you give an update on Bryan Underwood?
[Bryan] Underwood got on the field. We'll see how much he can do. It will probably be... we have to see how he reacts from getting a little bit of work. It will probably be a game-time decision of whether he can play or not.

Do you feel like the players are ready to play?
I think they are itching to play a game. They are tired of practicing, probably like we are as coaches, trying to figure out who and what we are... if we are ready to play or not.

They are excited about this opportunity and look forward to the challenge of playing Tennessee.

How did ESPN All-Access come about?
They asked if we would be receptive to them coming and doing a day with us... as we talked about it, it worked out fine.

I think the kids really enjoyed it.

Is that something you may be more inclined to do if you are a team making a stamp rather than an established national commodity?
I don't know. I haven't been an established national commodity. When I get there I'll let you know.

How confident are you in which NC State will show up on Friday?
It's hard to tell. It's a new year and a new season with a lot of new guys playing.

You talk about the experience we have in the offensive line, but we have three guys playing new positions up front. Never played a college game at left guard for Mattes, Crisp hasn't been at left tackle, and Wallace hasn't been at right tackle.

Those are questions we have to get answered as we go along. It's great to be starting against a team like Tennessee and in a high-profile game like this but sometimes you'd rather get another game in there and get them on the field and see what they can do.

When we get this opportunity we have to make the most of it.

For what percentage of your team do you think this is the biggest game they've played?
Probably all the guys that have never been in a game. The guys that have been around have played big games against Florida State, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Carolina... anybody else in this conference.

It would be the guys that have never been in a college football game. Those are the ones who are the most unpredictable. You throw them out there and hope they are going to go the right way.

Is it possible to have the season you want without a win on Friday?
Certainly. The goal is to win an ACC championship. So, this is a high-profile out of conference game and conference doesn't start until we get to October.

Do you get any practice time in the Georgia Dome?
No. We just show up and play.

How confident would you be if this game comes down to a kick?
We have great confidence in Nik. He's showed last year that he can handle the rigors of being a field goal kicker. He's much better this year because he's more mature and knows what to expect. He's stronger.

So we'll see. I think kickers want to be in that position and if it comes down to it we feel very confident throwing him out there.

We haven't heard much about Niklas Sade or Wil Baumann. Is that a good thing?
Well, nobody has asked about them so that's why you didn't hear about them.

I'm guessing you don't have an update on C.J. Wilson?
No I don't.

New returners with T.J. Graham gone. Can you talk about that?
They are going to be back there for the first time. We made the decision that Rashard Smith is going to return punts. We still haven't settled on the kickoff return totally yet.

They are going to get their first opportunity. T.J. was a great thing to have back there for four years but now we have to move on and somebody else has to pick up the slack.

Do you get nervous?
I've been nervous for the last ten days or whatever. If you're not then you're not worried about what the heck is going to go on one way or another.

We haven't talked about Mike Glennon much, but my guess is you expect him to start the way he has finished.
Certainly. As I said before, his starting point in August is a lot higher than it was August a year ago. Today he is much better than he was a year ago at this time. His starting point is much higher.

All of those guys who have played have that seasaon of experience under them. That's great for them as far as confidence goes.

When you look at how things played out with him and Russell [Wilson], certainly you have to feel good about that decision with him as a second-year starter.
I felt good when I made the decision back then. It worked out for everybody.

Russell is doing great. He has his chance to start, and Mike is still here for us. We have a quarterback and heading into a high-profile game.

Everyone should be happy.

Can you give an honest assessment of the song, "Rocky Top?"
Well, we played them in the Sugar Bowl in the dome in New Orleans, and the only thing I know is if they don't score, they aren't playing it. That's a good thing.


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