The staff was pleased, Coach Holliday said, with quarterback Jay Davis and the freshman running backs playing for the injured T.A. McLendon. While declining to discuss specific players or their projected date of return from injuries, Coach Holliday did say that the bye week, in addition to providing valuable extra time to prepare for the Buckeyes, would also give everyone on the team a good chance to "get healthy" before September 18.
Receiver Lamart Barett (#13) was also cited by Coach Holliday as a performer of note in Saturday's 42-0 rout of the Spiders. In response to audience questions, Coach Holliday stated that in terms of the playbook State didn't "show very much" last Saturday, but did what was needed to win the football game. Clearly, and as expected, the staff is keeping much of its playbook close to the vest pending the visit from Ohio State.
Tramain Hall was also singled out by Coach Holliday, who said that the staff liked to get the football to the Florida native in "space," where Hall has the chance to showcase his speed and agility. Not just a receiver, Hall is more of a slotback type player, Coach Holliday said, who works out with the running backs and the receivers.
Coach Holliday stressed that, despite Ohio State looming on the horizon, the Richmond win was important for a number of reasons, including the adage that a team improves most between its first and second games of the season. He noted that other teams hadn't had as much success in their openers against allegedly inferior opponents, citing Auburn (which scored about 40 points less this year than in its opener against the same opponent as in 2003) and "that team down the road," which had trouble with William & Mary – a remark that, as expected, drew laughter and good-natured jeers from the crowd regarding the Tar Heels' struggles against the 1-AA Tribe.
Despite the bye week, Coach Holliday said the team would practice according to its regular schedule, as though it was preparing to play a game this Saturday. The sole difference, he explained, was that the staff had to give the team one day off, which would be either Saturday or Sunday. The week had begun with getting the Richmond game film out of the way, with the staff making corrections based on the film studies.
With respect to Ohio State, Coach Holliday emphasized in response to fan questions about "how good" the Buckeyes might or might not be that teams of Ohio State's caliber, as with conference foes Miami and Florida State, have the talent to simply "reload" despite losses to graduation and the NFL. Teams like Ohio State, Coach Holliday said, have "ten or 12 high school All-Americans" who have been sitting on the bench for two years waiting for their turn to play.
In short, fans hoping or wishing for a talent letdown from Ohio State are due for a disappointment. Coach Holliday said that this "reloading" type of program was where N.C. State wanted to be. Coach Holliday stressed this example in terms of linebackers, again in response to a fan question, saying that the linebackers were good but that, of course, State needed more of them.
Coach Holliday stressed the experience of so many returning Wolfpack players, noting that with many who played as freshmen "a year older" there was more experience and the resulting game savvy on this season's team.
More than one fan asked questions about playing current freshmen. Citing the proposed "five year rule," NFL considerations, and common sense, Coach Holliday stated simply that "if [the freshmen] are good, you have to play them." Players with the talent of a Bobby Washington, Coach Holliday said, know that they are good and aren't scared of the competition – Miami, he noted, was full of great running backs, and that didn't stop Washington from signing there. A player who didn't have the confidence and drive to step up and compete with high competition was not someone the Wolfpack wanted anyway, Holliday said.
Finally, Coach Holliday was asked several questions about recruiting, an area in which the coach has excelled for many years. He said it was easier to recruit now than five years ago, for several reasons. First, he said, the new facilities certainly made it easier to draw recruits, and coaches could "sell the city of Raleigh" as well. Second, Coach Holliday cited the combined experience of more than 40 years of recruiting relationships he and head coach Chuck Amato had in the Florida area, noting also that when a Florida recruited headed to State, he met current players he already knew and/or played against in high school. Finally, Coach Holliday said that winning – the winning attitude and actual field victories of the Amato era – naturally made things easier recruiting-wise.
Coach Holliday stressed that the state of North Carolina was "number one" for recruiting as well, and the staff was and is recruiting and landing the top players out of North Carolina (as recruits like Mario Williams show). In addition to North Carolina and Wolfpack pipeline Florida, Coach Holliday also noted recruiting efforts in the Southeast in general, including South Carolina and Virginia, as well as traditional Wolfpack recruiting ground Pennsylvania. Bringing Boston College into the conference might open up some ground in that area as well, Coach Holliday said, as the ACC is now truly "an Atlantic Coast Conference, stretching along the East Coast from Boston to Miami."
As usual, GoPack.com's Tony Haynes served as moderator, fighting through multiple malfunctions of the public address system to take questions and hand out door prizes, including a $40 gift certificate from Hi-5, a free haircut from an area barber shop, and Wolfpack football "DISCIPLINE," t-shirts, the team's theme word for the 2004 season.
Next week's guest at the Hi-Five Coaches Corner will be Wolfpack Head Coach Chuck Amato.