O'Brien: 'We Made Some Changes'

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

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    Tom O'Brien

    Statement:
    "One of the things we're going to do on Saturday is ask people to contribute to the Ewing Sarcoma fund here Saturday. The team has already donated over 2,000 dollars. They've given up their meal money for a couple of weekends that we give them per diem to go towards the foundation, Uplifting Athletes."

    Thoughts on secondary changes:
    "Yeah, I think so. Certainly we made some changes off of the game on Saturday. I think the freshmen, while they were overwhelmed a little bit I think by the scope of the game come Saturday, and even though they are very athletic and probably good prospects down the road, I think we better settle down, and we're going to go with a little more experience this week.

    "We're playing the No. 1 pass offense in the conference. We've made [mistakes] the last couple of weeks back there that I don't think we can afford anymore. Hopefully we can get it settled down, but until they step up or someone steps up and grabs a job and takes a hold of it we'll keep working until we find the right combination."

    Can you talk about Justin Byers?
    "He came in at corner, and that's what he was recruited to be, but with our problems at safety last year we had to play him at safety because of his athletic ability. As we talked through it last week, we still had some situational things that we had to take care of and thought, now that Clem Johnson was healthy and back and Brandan Bishop was playing well, that we could afford to move him outside to see if he could help us there.

    "He played better at the boundary corner position than he did at safety for us."

    What have you seen from Terrell Manning?
    "We talked about it from the start, that was another one of those situations that was going to be back and forth. He made a couple of plays there at the end of the Pittsburgh game, which we talked about a week ago.

    "He has natural recognition skills in there... I think he plays, he's starting to play a lot faster and play a little more comfortable. In our terminology, he plays downhill... he attacks the line of scrimmage well. We're going to give him the opportunity to start a football game and see how he does."

    Is Rashard Smith still eligible for a redshirt year?
    "I don't know, but if he gets healthy he is going to play. He should be back here hopefully in the next couple of weeks... a lot of football to play."

    Thoughts on defensive line play affecting secondary:
    "It helps the problems in the secondary because if we couldn't rush the passer it might be worse. When the quarterback is on his back he can't throw the football. We played pretty a good quarterback last week, and we've got another four-year starter we got to play again this week... here we go again."

    Thoughts on how the defensive line did against the run:
    "I think our defensive line did well, and we did well against the rush, but Wake Forest came out and called 55 passes out of 80 plays. It wasn't like they lined up and tried to run the ball. We're happy with what we did, but we still lost the football game so it is what it is."

    Thoughts on the penalty situation:
    "The three pre-snap penalties in the first half were particularly bad penalties. One was a substitution... you run into the huddle, we signal what the personnel group is, you're supposed to call it out in the huddle. No one called it out in the huddle and we got called 12 guys on the field. That should never happen.

    "The same thing with the two lineup formations with wide receivers not being on the line of scrimmage... both of them that's just a matter of concentration.

    "Some of those things, we don't want the personal fouls. That's a loss of temper and you just can't do that. The celebration penalty, those are bad penalties because those are selfish things. The other things are called in the heart of the game. Holding is going to happen, other things happen... defensive pass interference, it wasn't called there, but those are all judgment penalties by officials. It's the pre-snap things that really bother you, and the personal fouls... they bother me."

    Thoughts on special teams:
    "The kickoff coverage has been a point of contention here the last two weeks. That's another situation where we're going to look at different personnel probably. Early in the year we had more starters on that team and tried to take them off and give backups a chance to cover. It worked for a couple of those weeks against the I-AA teams, but it certainly didn't work against Pittsburgh and Wake Forest so we've got to go back to more guys playing more snaps on that.

    "The punting, we've just got to punt the ball better. We didn't cover well on Saturday twice."

    How do you think the Atlantic Division will go this year?
    "We've been in one weekend, but the home teams all won last weekend. That was the common denominator, I think, in our division.

    "Everybody's got a loss I believe, no Maryland is 1-0, they've only played one game. It might be, it might be one of those years that 5-3 finds a way into the championship game. Like it did for everybody last year."

    Are you looking for Russell Wilson to run a little bit more?
    "No, I think the thing was he's got to step up into the pocket a little more. There's been holes up inside, and he's been going out, back and around. Now he's able to do that, or he was able to do it [against] Pittsburgh and he was able to do it at Wake Forest. He wasn't able to do it [against] South Carolina.

    "You have to do it right all the time, it can't just be based on who you're playing and what you're seeing.

    "Those are some of the things we have to work with him on. He's still a young kid. You look at 40-plus starts for Riley Skinner to about what, 12 or 15 starts for Russell. There's a big disparity maturity level there."

    Are you surprised by Boston College's success?
    "Nothing at BC has surprised me. I'm surprised that you guys never pick them."

    Thoughts on Thaddeus Lewis:
    "I don't think he was totally healthy early. I think that had a lot to do with it. I think he is injury-free now, he's feeling much better, and certainly as a quarterback, if you've got health problems it can really affect how you throw the football. I think, looking on the outside, I'd guess that would be the reason."

    Thoughts on Bobby Floyd:
    "He's a leader on the football team. He always has been. It surprised me last year. He has a tremendous amount of respect from the kids on the football team. He's really a tough kid. He hits as hard as anybody.

    "He's one of those guys, of course I don't know if he'd ever go to the Naval Academy, but he's a Navy-kind of football player. One of those guys that shows up, that loves to play the game, doesn't care if he's got a helmet or not, he's going to go out and play the game. That's the kind of player that we need."

    What do you want for your birthday?
    "I want a victory. I lost last year on my birthday. I just want to wake up tomorrow."

    What were your impressions of Wilson's interceptions after seeing them on film?
    "I think he took a shot on the first one. He's done that in the past, and it didn't pay off. He didn't see the backside safety or corner or whatever it was coming across. Actually, we talked about when [Matt] Blundin threw his interception, it was the same pass, he made the same throw when he stopped his. Maybe it's me and that pass, but I didn't call this one... but that's what happened.

    "The second one, I think he overcompensated. If you look at Pittsburgh, he put the ball too far in front of Jarvis Williams. This one he threw behind Donald Bowens. He's just got to calabrate his arm, get it down right, and throw it in there the rest of the year. Two throws he had chances of getting into the end zone, and he threw one too far to the left and the other too far to the right."

    You need an athlete with a certain body type to cover kicks. Are you guys with that and do you have enough of them in the program?
    "Not to cover kicks the way we want to do it. That's going to take time and recruiting."

    Do you have certain positions from the football field that you'd like to have cover kicks?
    "I think linebackers and defensive backs... wide receivers can if they are tough enough. We've had running backs cover kicks. Those type of guys, your 195-to-220-pound guys that can run with power.

    "Actually I was on a cruise to Alaska this year, Bob Stoops and his family was on the cruise at the same time so we spent a pretty good amount of time together. I always sign more offensive linemen because I coach them. He always signs more secondary guys because he wants them to cover kicks, cover punts, and do that type of thing. That's an answer to your question about the type of guys that you want."

    I guess that's another position you can't have enough of?
    "Yes. Good ones."


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