O'Brien: "We Found A Way"

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State head coach Tom O'Brien met with the media Monday to discuss the Wolfpack's 10-7 win over UConn and the home opener Saturday against South Alabama.

Tom O'Brien

On a bumpy plane ride back from Connecticut…
"The weather was obviously not the best playing the game, actually before the game I was told that a tornado touched down in Queens and that weather was coming. Once the game was over we were told there was a short window to get on the plane and get out because of the weather.

"As we were coming down I looked out the window and saw that we were going into a thunder cloud... we took a little roller coaster ride. We couldn't get into RDU because of the weather, ended up in Greensboro, refueled and finally made it back. We're all safe and sound, ready to play our home opener."

Did you gain anything from watching game film or was it as ugly as I thought it was?
"The game was beautiful, the weather was ugly. It was a hard fought defensive battle that the weather conditions dictated. The game was played all on the left side (because of the wind.) The defense did a great job in the first quarter because they took the wind and we were backed up.

"We found a way, all the points were scored at one end. It came down to a field position game and don't turn the football over and give anybody a short field. That's how it had to be played and that's how we played, and we won."

How did Tyson Chandler handle his first start?
"He did OK. It was a tough situation for him. UConn's #48 isn't quite Dwight Freeney, but he was the 100 meter champ in high school. He might be more like Elvis Dumervil that played at Louisville with the speed, quickness and power.

He was after Tyson early and often, but he hung in there for a while. Like anybody else, he'll be much better this week. He gave us four quarters worth and now we have a chance to work and get better."

Does Rob Crisp have a long-term injury?
"It's indefinite, it's week-to-week. We'll see. I don't think it's going to be this week, but hopefully within the next couple he'll be back."

On the 2011 meeting with South Alabama:
"They came in here last year undefeated, took some chances and did some things. It's good that we played them last year, back-to-back games help because you go back. Three of four linemen, all of their linebackers, the free safety are all back for them.

"We have some point of reference to evaluate their personnel. We have something to look at from last year."

What can you tweak with Mike Glennon to get him on track?
"It's three prong. It starts with the protection, it goes to the route running and being in the right spot at the right time and it goes to him and decision making and what he has to do. All three of those aspects have to get better if we're going to get better throwing the football.

"He's got to get rid of the ball on some occasions. It's a combination of everything and it's something we have to solve and we have to make it work this week."

Discuss Rodman Noel's development at linebacker. He seems like he's gaining more confidence?
"That's true, and as we talked about Tyson Chandler, once you get in a game and get a look at yourself on film, you measure yourself and start feeling a little more confidence. He's recognizing things, he's got the ability.

"He can help us playing at the linebacker spot, we're still searching for some right combinations there. Hopefully we're getting close to where we have to get there."

Mustafa is listed as the starter this week. How has he progressed in the first two weeks?
"First of all, Mustafa is not back to where he was a year ago. Not close to that, but he still has great vision, he puts his foot in the ground and goes toward the goal line. He can run with power and hit some guys. The more that he plays the more we can get him back to where he was a year ago.

"There still is no real separation except that he's going to be the starter and the other kids are going to play. Somebody has to separate, I'm not going to play the rest of the year with three tailbacks."

Do you think Mustafa is the one with the best chance to separate from what you've seen the first two weeks?
"There are glimpses of each one of them doing what you want them to do, but there is not the consistency doing it all the time that you have to have to be the guy. They have to make that decision for us."

On the offensive line play:
"Well, once again, you're a new starting offensive line. You started two new offensive lines in two games. Those things happen, so we have to be better."

Would you consider the offensive line a strength at this point?
"No, not after having to replace the left tackle after the first game. If we're where we were, we are going to grow and get better. We had three guys in positions they've never played before (against Tennessee).

"There were signs that as they play and get better. The biggest on the offensive line is continuity, and playing to the guy next to you. We had the right guys in the right spots, but we start the second game with a new guy at left tackle, which is a premier spot in what we have to do to protect the quarterback.

"Is it a position of strength today? No. Can it be going forward? Yes."

Is R.J Mattes fully comfortable at guard now?
"I think he believes he's a much better guard than tackle and it's a must better position for him going forward. It's better for us, because it solidifies the three inside guys. Even though left tackle is a premiere position throwing you still want to be strong from the middle out in the offensive line."

Is Earl Wolff healthy?
"We'll see how he is this week. If he's good enough to go he'll play, if he's not he won't. Have to check with the trainer, coaches don't do injury reports... and he won't talk."

Earl Wolff looks like he's having a good start to the year, though?
"I was excited he intercepted that ball. He must have dropped 10 balls in preseason camp. One day last week he intercepted five and I asked him if he went to the hardware store and got new hands.

"It was good that he did that. He was excited. He made a good play too, and he almost got his hands on a second one. We need Earl back there."

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