"Looking back at the UTEP game, it was a great win for our players and program. It was a huge game for our morale. Whenever you win in conference, it makes the next conference game that much bigger. It was an important win because it was our last conference game before we play a non-conference contest. It was great to see the players' smiles, enthusiasm and excitement in the locker room after the game. It wasn't a win just for the offense, defense or special teams but an attitude win more than anything else. These players refused to quit or give up.
"We made a million mistakes on both sides of the ball. It was probably not one of Rob [Kass's] better performances but I think he had a lot going on during the week. I don't know whether it was losing his grandmother or playing in the altitude but there were just a lot of issues. Offensively, we are having a lot of skill players that are stepping up. Chris Johnson is starting to do some good things week in and week out. It was nice to see Davon Drew make a couple of catches and to see Jamar Bryant start to show up. Additionally, Dwayne Harris is really starting to come into the mix. Our offensive line played ok and they made a lot of plays in space to keep some things alive.
"When you look at it defensively, we did not play very well. But when you look at the big picture, guys like Zack Slate have been consistently playing well. Khalif Mitchell and Jay Ross also played well. Van Eskridge and Chris Mattocks had nice games in the secondary and our freshman corners Travis Simmons and Dekota marshall were strong. Right now, our achilles heel is the lack of productivity from our linebackers. We haven't had guys like Quentin Cotton, Pierre Bell or Jeremy Chambliss practicing regularly so I it might be a consistency issue right now, although I do think Lorenzo Osborne went in there for about 20 plays and showed some promise. We need to get better at the linebacker position but it's difficult because they are involved in both the running and passing games.
"I think this was our best special teams performance of the season. Our punt team had its best average of the year and I believe Matt played very well. We also covered extremely well. It was nice to see Dwayne Harris get started on the punt returns and we need to get him more room to run because he is a real talent. Our kickoff return team continued to play well as I think our average starting position was the 34-yard line. We were 100 percent on field goals which was nice to see. You never take those kicks for granted.
On NC State:
"We have talked about the challenges ahead this week. NC State is a 1-5 football team but don't let the record fool you. If we had played their schedule, we could have easily had the same record as they have played teams like Louisville, Clemson and Florida State. Coach O'Brien is a good coach and he has come in there his first year trying to establish some discipline and build the program his way. I'm sure there are some bumps in the road that he is dealing with.
"When we played a year ago, I thought they were one of the most talented teams on our schedule. Their two senior receivers along with some of their young guys are doing some good things. Their offensive line features two seniors, a junior and a sophomore. They haven't been able to establish any consistency at the tailback position because of some injuries and they are down to their third-team tailback.
"Their defensive front is very good. I think they have lined up and played with every team on their schedule. Their secondary is also talented. A year ago, we didn't go up and down the field on them but relied on the big play before halftime then hung on.
"We understand the challenge ahead of us and you have to throw out the records. There will be a lot of emotion surrounding this game for both teams. We are coming off a seven-week emotional string and they are coming off their bye week. I'm sure they will throw some wrinkles into their playbook that we have not seen on film.
On the Pirates' Winning Streak Versus the Wolfpack's Losing Streak:
"Whenever you are losing, it puts a seed of doubt in your mind but at the same time, when things are going well, its easy to get confident and have a little swagger. However, I don't think that will have any effect whatsoever on Saturday's game. Both teams will have adversity and it will come down to who handles it the best. [NC State] will come in fresh and it's like a new season for them, having had the bye week at the halfway point.
"Our team is really starting to believe in themselves. They have found ways to win and have done the things needed to win.
On Dwayne Harris:
"I think he is feeling more comfortable at the wide receiver position but he is also a wild card player for us. He is back on the punt return team and also back with Chris Johnson on kickoff returns. We try to get him the ball in many different ways, whether it be on the reverse, bubble screen or just running the ball downfield. As a freshman, we gave him a little at the beginning of the year to see how he handled it. He has done well and we have given him more and more as the season has gone along. Additionally, he has emerged as one of our best offensive players who can make positive things happen during a game. For example, he was responsible for 14 points in a four minute span against UTEP with the reverse run and the deep pass. He is special with the ball under his arm."
On the In-State Rivalry Games:
"I think this game is huge because of the natural rivalry that exists between the schools. It is healthy for both schools, given the geographical distance between here and Raleigh. I told the team that we won seven games a year ago but had no championships to show for it nationally, conference-wise or even in the bowl. We want to build this program on championships. The "State Championship" is one we have to win and we are in what is essentially a one-game playoff. This game has implications in recruiting and image so it is more than just another win or loss in the record books. It is important to the alumni and the fan base that fills our stadium. The NC State-UNC-East Carolina alumni base is so intertwined and there are a lot of bragging rights at stake.
On the Quarterback Rotation For Saturday:
"A lot will be predicated on the game plan and what they will do defensively to stop us. Against UTEP, we were struggling a little but so we decided to put Patrick in. He is still alive in the rotation. Rob will start but Patrick will play based on the flow of the game and their defense. I was very proud of Rob with all the distractions for him this week. He was on a plane to New York on Wednesday then back to Greenville on Thursday and then to El Paso on Friday and starting on Saturday. It was real impressive to see him make some throws at the end of the game after getting off to a rough start. I'm proud of the way he handled himself."