Tom O'Brien Audio + Quotes

RALEIGH, N.C. -– NC State head coach Tom O'Brien met with the media following today's practice. Here is a sampler of what he had to say.

Tom O'Brien Audio

Thoughts on today being the last day of two-a-days:
I expect they think it's a good thing. We only had four so it's not like what it used to be. We've got to do a better job tonight, I do know that.

What does the injury report look like?
There is no injury report. We'll make that when we get ready to play Central Florida.

Thoughts on Nate Irving:
He's learning like everybody else. Those young kids I think right now... from what I see the top six linebackers are all going to play and all be in the football game. They've earned the right. He's earned the right, along with [John] Ware and [Ray] Michel, to get in the football game. He's going to have a chance to play some.

What is his greatest strength?
He stays after it. He stays after the football, he hustles, and he never quits. He really chases them down all over the field.

What have you seen from Steven Howard?
He's going to be a good, young kid. Right now I don't know if he's going to be able to break into the top six wideouts, but he's shown flashes. Right now he's a little bit overwhelmed with what all he's trying to learn... but when he knows where he's going he does a nice job.

What are your expectations for your three team captains?
Their expectations are to be leaders of the football team. The best part about leadership is when it comes from within the team and you don't need the coaches out there harping on them. That's something we have to get... leadership doesn't mean just those three guys. The best motivation, the best leadership comes from within the football team. When we can get that then we'll have something.

How do you go about selecting them?
The team votes on them. As coach all I do is count the ballots.

Can you talk about your three captains?
Marcus [Stone] going to tight end is doing a nice job. He's learning the position, and he's really worked hard to get to where he is. Martrel [Brown] is the leader of the defense right now... that front seven group. He has really done a good job. John [Dunlap], he takes the receiving corp. He takes those guys and the skill kids and gets them organized and gets them going on the field.

The best thing I told them is they have to play. They can't worry about just being a leader. The best thing they can do is lead with their play.

How is your depth coming along at tight end?
I think it's fine. [Matt] Kushner is doing a good job. We like what we see out of [R.J.] Armstrong... the JC kid. That was a good move by Jerry [Petercuskie]... we needed that. Nobody knew what was going to happen to Anthony, but he's going to have to really help us out because we're playing three tight ends.

How much do you see the kickoff rule changing the game?
I think it's going to change it a lot. I think it's going to give you an opportunity to return the ball, and if you are a return team it is going to help you with field position. It would be interesting to see what people do with it.

Did you have a rule for how deep your returner would not take the ball out of the endzone?
It would probably go game-to-game with what we thought we could do.

Do you have a lot of first-teamers on the special teams?
Anybody is eligible. Coach Cuskie gets freedom to choose who he wants. If I think we have a depth problem and want to save somebody we'll take them off, but we'll play as many first teamers as we need.

As I tell, especially all the seniors that think they are draft eligible, that's the first thing scouts come in and ask is who can play special teams? They want to see you play special teams. They don't want to see you sitting on the bench. A lot of those young kids, that's a way to earn their way on to a NFL roster.

Special teams is very important. I played Virginia Tech all those years and played against Beamer Ball... the great job he did with Virginia Tech through all those years in the Big East so it's always been a concern of ours. That's why I have a special teams coach.

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