O'Brien Talks Wake Forest

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

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    Tom O'Brien

    Did the players get to speak with coach Sheridan before the game?
    I don't think the players had the opportunity. I saw him after I got back from my run at the hotel in the morning before breakfast. We spent a little bit of time together. He was really excited when he came over when he won the coin toss, which I thought was great. He said, 'I got you off to a good start, keep going.' I was happy that he was there. I know he was elated to be back.

    Opening Statement:
    First off I would like to thank everybody. We got over 1,500 toys and $15,000 on Saturday for Toys For Tots. I think that is a pretty good effort. Coco-Cola is donating $13,500. Every time we score a touchdown, they give money to Toys For Tots, so they want us to keep scoring. I think it was a great effort by the people of the state of North Carolina.

    Does Wake's spread option present a challenge for your defense?
    It certainly does. It is almost a three-back offense. Their wide receivers almost have 50 carries to date. It's a three-back offense with a quarterback, the backs in the backfield... the wide receivers. You almost have to play it as such. The freshman back from right down the road here is a really good player. He has given them a lot running the ball out of the backfield. Skinner does a good job managing the offense, and he gets them into good plays and right plays.

    Did you think back in the spring that Jamelle Eugene could carry the ball for you 32 times in a game?
    I think coming out of spring practice, and you could have envisioned that he could do that... he showed those types of flashes in the way he practiced. He's a guy that goes every play like it is the last play he is ever going to play. He runs things and goes full speed, and he takes it to the goalline half the time. He has trained himself to be able to do that... he has prepared himself to be able to do it.

    Was he your third-down back earlier in the year?
    That is how we started the year off. We were using Baker and Brown on first and second down and him on third down. He was practicing as a first and second down back, but when we got to game situations, that is how we were getting him into the football game because he has great hands, he runs good routes, and he was really good in pass protection.

    Do you worry at all about this team living on this past week?
    That is a concern, and we've addressed it. That's the only problem with having such a big game of this magnitude within the course of the year. It's better to maybe do it in October and have an off week afterwards. If you win it's better to have an off week, but if you lose, you'd rather be able to play.

    You can't really enjoy it until the season is over. Since the break, the last four weeks have been really big wins for this football team. Each week, has gotten more important. As I've said, I think that is the good part of this. We are in November, we are in must-win situations, we are in back-to-the-wall situations and we are playing for everything... it's great that you are playing for something in November.

    Thoughts on bowl speculation:
    I don't think six wins... all you are is bowl eligibl]... that doesn't guarantee you anything. As a team, I've told them that it makes no sense talking about it. It doesn't make any difference because the first time you start talking about it, then you don't win.

    Talk is cheap. We got this way by focusing on one week at a time on the opponent we are playing and by winning. When we do that, good things will happen at the end of the year.

    Thoughts on offensive line rotation/depth:
    We haven't been able to rotate anybody in the offensive line. This is the first time that we've had a little bit of depth at some spots. We were so thin, especially coming out of the bye week in the first half of the year. Guys play better when you get the opportunity when you're fresher. You don't want to be playing 80 snaps a game.

    There was a time early in Virginia when Michael Dean Perry was at Clemson. We lost a game... he sacked us two of the last three plays. We didn't have depth. My left tackle on offense played 85 plays and he played 35. We ran out of gas at the end of the game. It is important that offensive linemen get a little bit of rest too... if you are able to do it, and we haven't been able to do it until this last weekend.

    Thoughts on stopping the run against North Carolina:
    We executed our defense. We didn't do the things that we were supposed to do a week ago in Miami. We were much better up front in executing basic fundamentals, which is what it generally comes down to it.

    How surprised are you that this streak has come with Daniel throwing 40 times or more a game?
    That is the way we think we have to play. We have to go back and we have to throw the ball and spread it around. When you only have one tailback and a freshman behind him, and the best players on your team are the wideouts, you got to get them the football.

    I think Saturday was the first game all year where we ran the ball more than we threw it.

    What is your situation at field corner on Saturday?
    DeAndre will play.

    Will he start?
    Yes... unless I change my mind by Thursday.

    Do you see teams lose focus after emotional wins?
    I think that happens in a lot of football programs. It takes a lot of maturity, responsibility, and leadership on your football team.

    It has to come from within the team. I can say this to you and I can say it to them, but if they refuse to listen it doesn't do any good. Even now after Sunday's practice, you hear so many kids talking afterwards about focused and what we have to do. The goal is to be better this week. As long as they are believing it and go show it the next three days on the practice field, then we'll have a chance on Saturday.

    Thoughts on the offensive line's run blocking:
    As I said, we did a great job in the run blocking. We got the ball to the perimeter, which we hadn't been able to do against a lot of people. I think that Jamelle likes to run out there, and he is a little better out there. We've been working on it for weeks, and finally it paid off this past weekend.


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