O'Brien: Pack Looking to Develop Depth

N.C. State head coach Tom O'Brien discussed this week's game against Gardner-Webb today in his weekly teleconference. O'Brien talked about the next opponent, the Wolfpack's schedule, freshman tailback James Washington, and much more.

Opening Statement:
We're certainly preparing very hard for Gardner-Webb coming in here. We look forward to the opportunity of trying to get better again this week as we move forward with our schedule.

Did you have to address with the team going in that there is no game left more important than any other?
I think now in our third year they understood exactly the task at hand. We've gone through it the last couple of years as we've played Wofford and William & Mary. They respected their opponents in those situations and played hard... knew we had to do this for this stretch here.

The whole goal is to get better each and every week. That's one thing we've tried to do, especially on the practice field... is get much better fundamentally. The opportunity we had Saturday night was to play a lot of people a lot of plays. Hopefully that will create depth for us down the road.

Two FCS teams have beaten ACC teams so far. James Madison took Maryland to overtime and Jacksonville/Florida State was very competitive. Do you reference those games with your team?
Certainly we do, but our kids, they watch SportsCenter too so they are pretty much aware of what's going on. You have to keep their mind on business and anytime those things happen we don't want to fall victim to that.

Have you seen a bridging in the talent gap between I-A and I-AA or is this a fluky little run here?
I think when we cut scholarships by ten, what ten years ago... there's a thousand more kids out there that were going to Division I schools that now are available as a pool for the Division I-AA. I think there's a lot of good players out there.

All you have to do is look at the NFL teams when they introduce their rosters at night. Not everybody comes from one of the power conferences or BCS conferences. There's a lot of good players out there. Gardner-Webb had a kid drafted last year that's at San Francisco.

You see a lot of quarterbacks transfer down to I-AA. Do quarterbacks lead the charge of talent down at that level?
I think they might. Other guys always have hope of playing if you're at a different position, but at quarterback you're pretty much settled. If you're sitting there and a guy is going to be a three-year starter and you only have one or two years of eligibility left it makes sense to go find yourself a place to play.

What have you seen so far that you like from James Washington?
We were very fortunate that he came in January. He went through spring practice and a semester of school. He's a little more mature than a normal freshman at this point; plus he's had the experience of going through spring practice and the summer workout schedule. He has a long way to go to understanding everything, but he's farther ahead than he would be.

He has very good running instincts. He has a little bit of quickness and explosiveness to him, and he's doing a much better job in the passing game right now as he gets the opportunity to play in more games.

He has some veteran runners ahead of him, but are you looking work him in more as the season goes on?
No, I think he'll take his spot as the third back in the rotation, and generally we like to play with just two. But certainly if someone goes down... Jamelle Eugene missed last week's game, he'll have the opportunity to step up and get more snaps.

Coach, the scheduling of Murray State and Gardner-Webb in back-to-back weeks... was that intentional or did someone pull out of a contract and you had to replace somebody?
The scheduling is setup in conjunction with the ACC and everything else. What happened with the Murray State game is I believe East Carolina was on the schedule at that point and we, North Carolina, and East Carolina reached an agreement on who was going to play which year so we lost an East Carolina game last fall.

This was the only replacement we could find at that point to get somebody without having to repay a game to go somewhere.

Are there pros or cons to playing two FCS games in a row at this point in the season?
I don't know. I'll have to assess that after Saturday night.

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