Camp O'Brien: Back To The Basics

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Coach Tom O'Brien wasn't thrilled with the Pack's effort during last evening's scrimmage, so he shelved heavy contact in favor of a concentration on the basics today.

Coach Tom O'Brien wasn't thrilled with the Pack's effort during last evening's scrimmage, so he shelved heavy contact in favor of a concentration on the basic today.

"We had to get back and work on a lot of the fundamentals and a lot of mistakes we made yesterday and clear that up and try to get a little bit better," said O'Brien. " [The emphasis] was just to correct mistakes we made and go back and look at a lot of the fundamentals that we're not very good at right now. To try to get that, we didn't need to come out here in pads today, [but] just try to work individual stuff and then we'll start again with two-a-days tomorrow morning."

O'Brien reviewed the film of the scrimmage prior to today's practice, and after identifying a few key improvements he'd like to see made, he expects his team to put up a better performance in the next scrimmage.

"I looked at [the film] already, and as I said, we started working on that today," said O'Brien. "We'll try to get better each and every day before we scrimmage again. After the first scrimmage, you ought to make drastic improvements, so we'll see if we do."

When asked what the specific mistakes were that bothered him most, O'Brien didn't show his hand.

"Nothing worth publishing," he said.

With the heat index soaring near 120 today after a scrimmage last night, a practice without pads was probably a good idea. However, senior defensive lineman DeMario Pressley swears he isn't feeling the effects of the humidity too much.

"The heat feels the same," said Pressley. "It's just as hot as it was last year, maybe. It's just going to help us get in shape, though."

O'Brien said that the difficulty of the conditions makes strong leadership from the players that much more important.

"You need it, especially in times like this, because guys' minds sway a little and everything else," said the coach. "It can't always come from the coaches; it's got to become from within the team."

Pressley may not be letting the heat get to him simply because he's so grateful to be back on the field. He's worked his way through several injuries this offseason, so he's using fall camp to make up for lost time.

"I feel great," said Pressley. "I feel absolutely great. My toe, that's healed, my wrist is fine. So I'm just trying to knock the rust off."

The big man said the physical ailments played no role in his decision to bypass the NFL Draft and stay in school for his final season.

"First off, no, I was not going to leave early because I promised my mom that I would get my degree first," Pressley said. "But even if I was, my injuries … they might have played like a little part, but I really wasn't considering it."

One of O'Brien's most trusted assistants is veteran offensive line coach Don Horton. After working as a graduate assistant under O'Brien at Virginia, Horton took a position as a high school coach in Norfolk, Va. When Horton re-entered the college game, O'Brien pounced.

"He got back into college coaching, and when I had the opportunity to hire him at Boston College, I did," O'Brien said. "I think he's an outstanding coach and he's done a great job for us with the offensive line at B.C. and I'm sure that he'll put a line together here."

However, when asked whether he could talk about the progress that the offensive line was making thus far, O'Brien declined.

"Hmmm … Not really," said O'Brien.

O'Brien stressed that the current stretch of time before school starts, when the players' total focus is on football, is crucial.

"It's very important, because that's one thing that we talked about, the consistency," O'Brien said. "Consistency comes in with the mental aspect of it. We have to make sure that, those mistakes, we have to clear up. And that's all about concentration."

When asked whether there were any team bonding activities planned, O'Brien chuckled.

"Yeah … they're at practice," he said. "They're bonding at practice."

Don't expect any fancy traditions to be instilled under O'Brien's watch, either.

"We work," said the coach. "That's what our tradition is: working."

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