O'Brien Talks Wake Forest

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

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    Tom O'Brien

    When did you start talking about the state championship to team?
    I haven't said anything to them about it. I don't know where that's come from. I think they are aware of it because obviously it's been by a lot of people to them. My goal has been to win one game at a time until the end. When we get to the end we can talk about it... it hasn't been a focus. The focus has been to win football games."

    How satisfying was it to have a game where you could run the ball and stop the run?
    Well, it only took us what nine games to get there, but that was the focus from the start of the year. I think we did an excellent job of stopping the run, we kind of loaded the box and made it tough for them to run but sometimes that is what you've got to do.

    It was our best rushing effort of the year. It was 159 and we took away six because we had to take a knee twice, which we ought to get rid of because we would have had 165 yards rushing which is a pretty good day rushing.

    Two main objectives... we've been getting pretty good rushing now for three weeks with the offense.

    How good was your challenge in the offweek to Morgan and Gray to tackle better?
    It was for the whole secondary. That's where our bugaboo has been. We were letting three or four yard runs turn into 12 and 15 yard runs.

    That's what we didn't do on Saturday. We were able to get them down for the most part and limit the long damage they did and did a much better job on third down Saturday than we had in the past two.

    We tackled better. When you miss a tackle that's where you tack on the 10 or 15 yards.

    How much during the open date did you work on tackling?
    That's all we did on defense... a lot of time spent on tackling.

    On your TV show you said when Nate hits a guy he goes down. Expand on that.
    The example is on the goalline. There have been shots in situations like that where the hit was made at the line of scrimmage but the guy still gains three or four yards.

    Nate has a lot of shock and power to him. When he hits you he knocks you down and that's where you are. A lot of the extra yards which we have been giving up, in situations like that, didn't happen on Saturday... against some pretty good backs who have run over some people in the past.

    How much was that the Nate Irving from earlier in the year on Saturday?
    He's not close to where he was when he got hurt in the East Carolina game. If he continues to stay healthy, continues to play, then he has a couple of games to get back there. Hopefully it's going to be this Saturday as we get much closer and go along.

    He's a guy who early in the season people thought may have a chance to turn pro early. How do you handle that with your underclassmen?
    Certainly you talk to them about it at the end of the year when they get to that situation... would he have played all year that way? He probably would have been a guy who wanted to think about it. What we do as a head coach, we have access, especially with all the former pro coaches on my staff and me, we check with the NFL and give them some pretty honest opinions before they even think about it.

    In Nate's case, would you say after the injury, no?
    I don't know. I don't have any idea what the NFL does.

    When you are out recruiting, how much of a factor is landing a player who can fit athletically and academically?
    I think that's the way we have recruited. We haven't changed our recruiting from the days at BC to the days we came here. We try to find the best student-athletes we can find. You're doing yourself a disservice to bring someone to your school who can't pass... if it's important to us, which it is, then it will be important to the team. There were some individuals here who it wasn't important to, and they aren't here anymore.

    Thoughts on the new sliding scale in recruiting and the increased number of core courses:
    I think it's been proven that core courses are more important than standardized tests... you put too much into testing and not core courses. I think that's wrong, and I agree with them. The more core courses you pass the better prepared you should be to handle a college curriculum.

    The worst guys, in my experience, have been the guys who are a 2.0 student and score a 1600 on their college boards. That means they don't work.

    Wake Forest has really gone away a lot from the different stuff they did on offense.
    They are more in the 'I' offense than they were... I think the talk was it suits their personnel better which is what you are suppose to do. That's a decision they made, it was for their personnel and what they have to do. They've scored a lot of points the last couple of weeks so obviously it was a good decision on their part.

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