O'Brien Talks North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State head coach Tom O'Brien discusses the upcoming game against North Carolina with the media.

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    Tom O'Brien

    How much do you know about this rivalry?
    I know that we've only won three of the last 14 games. Since '93 there has only been three victories. When you look at the overall record we're down 35 so we've got a lot of ground to make up.

    Do you talk about the history of the rivalry with the players?
    I think they have to be made aware of it. They may be more aware of it than I am, but I know it's a rivalry. I watched it the 15 years I was in Charlottesville. As I said before, any school with Carolina in its name has to be a rival for our school.

    Thoughts on Robbie Leonard now starting with Javon Walker injured:
    That's a tough loss for us because after we came out of the break we played three games and was in a pretty good rhythm. Once again, it's a tough break for Javon but it's an opportunity for Robbie to step in and play. We're confident he will play well and get the job done for us.

    He's a smart kid, he's a tough kid, I think he will get after them, and he will tackle them. Those are the things that we ask out of our strong safety.

    Any chance DaJuan Morgan plays some at strong safety?
    We did it a little bit Saturday. We may do it, but we're not going to move him to start with.

    How has your offense changed after losing your top two tailbacks?
    I don't think we've been less playaction. It obviously affects what you do. You don't want to wear Eugene out... you have to give him some rest. We've probably thrown the ball a little more because when you look at situations you have to get the ball in the hands of the wideouts now [as much] as you do the tailbacks.

    I just think the whole passing game is much better... we're much more coordinated than we were earlier in the year.

    Thoughts on the play of Daniel Evans:
    He's doing a better job of managing the game. He has not turned the football over which I think is a big step in the right direction for us in those three games. Then when given the opportunity, he'll make good decisions.

    What impresses you about North Carolina?
    I think they are very athletic. It's a typical Carolina team. They are probably as talented as Miami.

    One of the things Butch said of the program when he came in was that he was surprised at the quality of offensive and defensive linemen they have. They really have good players up front, and that's a good place to start if you're going to start anywhere. They have quality depth at those positions.

    I think the quarterback is playing well for him. I think he said of him some point in the spring that he picked up things quicker than his quarterbacks at the Browns did. He's been managing their offense well.

    They've found some good tailbacks that are carrying the ball... we know they always have good skill kids on the outside.

    They are becoming an experienced team. Nine games into the year, all those young kids they started with aren't young anymore. They have as many quality players I think as Miami does.

    When you were at Boston College, who was your rival?
    We didn't have one. We didn't. The Big East wasn't founded long enough to play anybody. We tried to make Notre Dame the rival, but they didn't want us to be... especially after we started beating them.

    Is this refreshing?
    Yea. It's exciting.

    Thoughts on the game's impact on recruiting:
    I'm not sure that it does. All those years that we played Virginia-Virginia Tech, I don't know if anybody ever chose a school because of the outcome of that game.

    Thoughts on his team's intensity for the game:
    I haven't been through this week with these kids to know what their intensity level is as far as playing this game. I would hope that it's going to be pretty good. It should be. No one on this football team has won against North Carolina, so...

    When you went on the Barbecue tour, how much did you hear about this game?
    There were two themes throughout the whole thing. Both the schools with Carolina in their names you better beat. It didn't matter where you were. That was very important.

    Thoughts on playing UNC the last game of the year:
    I think because of us being on different sides in the conference, it's bad to play a cross-conference game the last game of the year because you might turnaround and play that team seven days later in the conference championship. You don't ever want to do that. I think that is really dumb scheduling. You should be playing it earlier.

    Where that is, I don't know. You don't want to get into a situation where you don't have to win the game to go to the conference title. You don't want to hurt somebody. What's more important, winning a rival game or winning the conference championship? It's better not the last game of the year, certainly.

    Is the confidence level as high as you've seen it?
    I think so because it is easy to believe when you are winning. They have worked hard. It hasn't been easy.

    We had to go down to East Carolina... a difficult place to play against a team that was waiting for us. They almost had the champagne on ice for winning the state championship and everything else.

    Coming away with that victory, to play Virginia, who has won all those close games at the end, and win that close game. It was awful difficult to win at the Orange Bowl. I don't care who you are. They don't lose many football games there, and it was really an important game for both teams. We may have taken them out of the title hunt, who knows? I get a winning streak going in the Orange Bowl and they tear it down, what the heck?

    Thoughts on how the Florida players feel about this game?
    The North Carolina kids went down and helped the Florida kids. It's time for them to return the favor.

    Thoughts on how the Florida players feel about this game?
    The North Carolina kids went down and helped the Florida kids. It's time for them to return the favor.

    The first six weeks you questioned the talent and drive of your team. Was there a purpose for that?
    The idea was for them to understand it's going to take a little bit harder work than they thought it would take, especially on the practice field. Part of it was the scheme. They weren't used to it and they thought they could just show up and perform. That doesn't happen, especially against the teams in the leagues we are playing.

    You have to practice well, you have to prepare well, and you've got to make a commitment to do what you have to do. If you do that you're going to have an opportunity to win football games. If you don't, you're going to lose. It's pretty cut and dry.

    Do you believe what you were saying or was it more motivational?
    I believed it. I wouldn't have said it. I don't try to motivate my team by what I tell you. I don't talk to them through you at all, so we can get that straight right now.

    When you assess things as a coach are you more of a glass half-empty guy?
    I think that's certainly the case. I don't think there is any question about that. It's that good Catholic education.


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