Pack Working on Fundamentals

RALEIGH, N.C. -- After a grueling week of exams, the N.C. State football team is back on the field in preparation for its December 29th meeting with Rutgers in the Papajohns.com Bowl in Birmingham, Alabama.

After a grueling week of exams, the N.C. State football team is back on the field in preparation for its December 29th meeting with Rutgers in the Papajohns.com Bowl in Birmingham, Alabama.

The team isn't too focused on Rutgers just yet, according to coach Tom O'Brien. As of now, the team's focus is on a return to fundamentals in a practice routine similar to those that the Wolfpack conducted in the spring, with the focus on individual improvement.

"They understand that the idea was not just to get to the bowl…we got to the bowl, now the mindset has to be that we have to go win a bowl game," O'Brien said. "We're not concerned with Rutgers right now. We won't even prepare for them until maybe the day before we leave or whatever. We're still going to be practicing by doing fundamentally what we have to get done."

Rutgers, led by quarterback Mike Teel, comes into the contest on a six game winning streak, after opening the season at 1-5. O'Brien said he realized some of Rutgers' potential when he watched the Scarlet Knights handle Louisville 63-14 in its last outing.

"It should be a great game. You've got two teams that have played really well down the stretch, so it will be a challenge for both of us," O'Brien said. "I haven't looked at Rutgers actually since I knew we might play them and watched them against Louisville and I was a little frightened. We'll have to be ready."

Four games ago, the Pack's bowl hopes looked bleak as the team sat at 2-6 overall and winless in the ACC. According to O'Brien, the turning point in the season was a "team only" meeting led by its seniors to get the team believing that it could win out.

"They've proven tremendous leadership, especially at that point with four games left where we had to win them all," O'Brien said. "They had a team only meeting that the seniors called and they took control of the football team and certainly controlled the course of where we were going."

For redshirt quarterback Russell Wilson, who has racked up accolades since end of the regular season, the whole experience is new. Still, he believes his team will rally in the same way it did when it was plagued with injuries and facing and frequent losses.

"It's been a great experience," Wilson said. "When you have a lot of adversity, that's the true test. When you can experience adversity and overcome it and keep fighting, even when you have starters out and have second string guys out, you have to have guys step up and keep playing hard; and that's what we did."

And as much confidence as Wilson has in his teammates, he has quite a bit of confidence in his coach, who led Boston College to eight consecutive bowl victories as head coach. "Coach O'Brien knows what he's doing when it comes to bowl games," Wilson said.


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