Camp O'Brien: Pack Holding Up In Heat

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State's second practice came in 90+ degree weather and most would expect some players at this stage of fall camp to struggle but head coach Tom O'Brien believes his players have handled the heat well thus far.

"They did a good job today, said O'Brien. "We conditioned them pretty hard at the end. They've done a good job, and they have to continue.

"You've got to eat right, you've got to drink a lot of fluids, you've got to sleep right, and you've got to take care of your body."

The heat doesn't appear to be a concern for O'Brien, as it is a factor that can't be controlled.

"You can't worry about the weather," he said. "Whether it's the heat here or the cold in Boston. You've got to forget about it and go and play. We have to use it to our advantage.

"It's a matter of mind over matter, which we try to get accomplished here at the end of practice too."

Credit should go to strength coach Todd Rice and his staff for the strong conditioning of the team this early in camp. O'Brien made it obvious that bringing Rice with him from Boston College was vital for his program.

"He's done a great job for us at Boston College," said O'Brien. "I think that was definitely a key... him coming with us. He knows what has to be done to get them in shape the way we want them.

"We're not even close to where we're going to be."

The Pack went through similar drills on day two as they did on Friday, but competition for positions should start to pick up shortly.

"Today was the same as yesterday," said O'Brien. "It was the same exact practice, the same exact drills. As I said yesterday, there is only so much you can do when you're not in shoulder pads. We'll be able to do a little more teamwork tomorrow... get into some competition things tomorrow once we put the shoulder pads on."

Willis Talks Brown, Holmes
NC State defensive line coach Keith Willis has been impressed early by the play of senior defensive end Martrel Brown. Brown tallied seven sacks as a junior, and the 6-foot-2, 290-pounder seems poised for a big year.

"I'm absolutely proud of him," said Willis. "This kid has improved three-fold. I'll tell you what, if what he's doing right now is any indication of what to expect during the season, he's going to have a pretty good season.

"By no means is he at his peak, and he still has room to go. If he continues to grow, somebody is going to have hell to pay when they play against him."

Brown could have even more help up front this year from incoming junior college transfer Antoine Holmes. A junior college All-American, Holmes tallied 44 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, and 11 sacks at Lackawanna JC. At 6-foot-3 and a rock-solid 290 pounds, he certainly passes the look test.

"He's a powerful dude," said Willis. "He's a really powerful dude. Once he understands what we're trying to get done, it's going to really loosen him up.

"It's still early but potentially I think he could be either [an end or tackle]. We're still in the evaluation stage of what he can do."

Because of his natural athleticism and physical gifts, it appears Brown couldcome in and contribute right away assuming he makes the strides nearly all junior college transfers have to make.

"A lot of things that they do at the junior college level are a lot of the things we do," said Willis. "The only thing that hurts him, or anyone coming from junior college, is verbage. That is to be expected, just as with anybody coming into this situation.

"It's really early... he's thinking, just like anybody coming into this situation. Right now it's paralysis through analysis. I think once he gets that understanding..."

Parting Shots
All of this week's practices will be mid-to-late afternoon except for on Wednesday and Friday. Wednesday the Wolfpack will have an evening scrimmage that should conclude at 8:15, and Friday two-a-days start with morning and evening practices... Don't expect the August heat to let up, as highs this week project in the mid-90s, topping out at possibly 99 degrees on Thursday.

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