O'Brien Talks Maryland

RALEIGH, N.C. -- At today's press conference, NC State head coach Tom O'Brien discussed the upcoming game against Maryland with the media.

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    Tom O'Brien
    With all the injuries, is it hard for you not to pause and look back at what could have been?
    I don't think you look back. You have to wait. As we say at the start, it's impossible to try to predict what you are going to be in game seven because you don't know who you are going to have in game seven.

    We have always taken it one game at a time. I learned a long time ago as a position coach, you coach who shows up on the football field because they are the only people you have to get ready to play. We just keep working hard. Our kids have played good the last two weeks, we just haven't been good enough to win the football game.

    Thoughts on offensive and defensive problems on third down:
    I spent a lot of Saturday looking at the last month on third downs for both. There are things we can certainly coach better and things we can play a lot better. The point of emphasis, unfortunately it is not the first time I've been through this.

    We have a special period in practice every Wednesday where we go against each other that is devoted to third and long, third and medium, and third and short. Offense's best against the defense's best, trying to win. We'll continue to do those things and try to get these guys to understand what they have to do to get off the field and to stay on the field.

    How demoralizing is it for a defense to give up a lot of third-and-longs?
    It shouldn't be demoralizing, it ought to be aggravating. They should be mad. That is their opportunity. If they want to get off the field, that is the best time to make it happen. Those times, historically, the defense has a 75 percent chance to win those situations. They have to be able to get off the field and get it done.

    Willie Young is behind Jeff Rieskamp on the depth chart?
    It is based on performance. He had a performance there [against FSU], but when you grade the tape, and specifically what he is doing in terms of the defense, Rieskamp is playing the defense, as called and coached, better.

    But, as I said all the time, individuals have opportunities to make plays. Certainly, one of the things about being player of the game, individual sacks and things like that, and he can certainly do those things for you.

    But on a consistent basis, Rieskamp on performance, has performed better than he has. That includes run... everything... or he wouldn't be on the depth chart the way it is.

    Thoughts on DeAndre Morgan starting back over Koyal George
    The same thing, it's all on performance. We move people up and down on how they perform and what they've done, not only during games but in practices.

    At that point after the Boston College game, Koyal George, performed at a higher level. After the Florida State game, DeAndre played better [against] Florida State... graded out better, so now he's back. It may switch again next week.

    Are you using last year's loss against Maryland as motivation?
    Yes, we are using everything we can to motivate to op play this team. That is certainly one of them.

    We played pretty well for about a quarter and a half. Then for whatever reason, we didn't play the last 2 and a half quarters last year.

    How often has that happened to you during your coaching career? Your teams generally have a reputation for really sticking in there and fighting.
    I think the last game of the year, and the way things were going, it might be expected, first year around. A lot of seniors, nothing to play, you know, I don't know why it happened. It hasn't happened again.

    When Maryland is at its best, which they have been some times, how good are they?
    They are awful good at home, and that is where they have been their best. I think when you look at Maryland, they've got 19 seniors on their two-deep... 13 of them are three-year lettermen.

    They've got a lot of experience. The offensive line, on tape, it looks as good as any we've played... better than South Florida. The quarterback is No. 1 in the conference in passing efficiency because nobody touches him.

    He stands back there, and he has three really good receivers. He has a great receiver in Hayward-Bey, and he's got two really, really good receivers in Oquendo and the other kid from Bergen Catholic that is playing.

    They've got a lot of experience. It is a senior-dominated football team with a quarterback that is playing at a high level which generally means it is a championship-caliber football team.

    How impressed were you with the way they shredded Wake's passing defense?
    As I said, they couldn't touch the quarterback. He had all kind of time back there to pick out who he wanted to throw to. Maryland has three exceptional receivers. Heyward-Bey, everybody is talking about him being a first day or first-round draft choice, but the other two kids are really good too. Williams is the other kid's name.

    Thoughts on Owen Spencer:
    Owen, we had to play him last year as a freshman. When you play a little bit as a freshman, it certainly helps you coming in. We were looking for somebody to step up after Bowens went out. He was certainly one of the guys that we wanted to be that kind of guy, with Jarvis Williams. They probably played the most last year.

    I think it was maybe the fourth game of the year, he finally made a couple of catches and started getting his confidence. He certainly has stepped it up in the last two [games]. There is nothing like making a touchdown catch here or there to boost your confidence.

    He's certainly a talented young guy who continued to work hard and hung in there... he has pretty good speed too. He ran away from that kid on Thursday night.

    Did you catch them in cover zero, both Boston College and Florida State?
    No, Boston College was in zone, they don't play zero.

    It looks like he's out there and you can throw it to a spot where the defensive back can't get... can you talk about that?
    That's on the quarterback. That's something we've worked hard with Russell and all the quarterbacks. They have to understand in those situations, that you have a guy like he or T.J. that can run, just get it out there and they can go get it.

    There came a time in practice last week for Florida State, and we are running a lot of zero routes, and there was a lot of times guys were going over the top of the defense. Tuesday, Russell was trying to throw the ball under. I said I don't care what happens Wednesday, you throw the ball deep every time out.

    It's hard to do that. You have to practice to do it. Every post, every streak, you throw it deep, so you get used to throwing it to these guys because when you get the opportunity to make a play like that against a defense like Florida State, you have to make it.

    How far has Keith Willis Jr. come?
    He's done a great job in that he came as a transfer and had to sit out last year, and didn't get to play, and played on the scout team.

    He has more of an understanding of the defense because he's been in it. He has worked extremely hard as he came through the season, and he's another guy, we made the change coming into the Florida State game that he's performed better than some of the other guys up front. He has deserved the chance to play, and he played well on Thursday night, and he can continue to hang on to his job for another week.

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