O'Brien Concerned About Duke's Passing Attack

N.C. State head coach Tom O'Brien discussed this week's game against Duke today in his weekly teleconference. O'Brien talked about Duke's passing offense, in-state recruiting, and much more.

Opening Statement:
We've begun our preparations for Duke. We have the No. 1 passing offense in the conference coming to town. We certainly didn't do a great job last week. Riley Skinner did a great job against us at Wake Forest throwing for 361 yards.

Certainly we have some concerns about Duke throwing the ball against us this week. We're going to try and do the best job we can against another four-year starter at quarterback in [Thad] Lewis.

How similar will the preparation be for Duke as it was with Wake Forest?
Last week we didn't prepare for 56 passes out of 80 plays. That wasn't our intent going in... with what Wake Forest had done with the wishbone and the flexbone, we spent a lot of time working on that in our week of preparation. It just was one of those things.

Certainly Duke has averaged throwing the ball 41 times a game or calling 41 passes a game so we've been spending more time on that. Now if they come out in the hambone or the wishbone we'll have to refer to what we did a week ago.

If your team can limit the penalties and turnovers would you be okay with games turning into shootouts?
I don't have a problem with that. That's the way college football has gone with the spread offenses and everything else.

The thing that still concerns us is the stupid penalties, the pre-snap penalties, we have to cut down on those mistakes. If we tackle a little better on defense and take better angles to the football, which will help us tackle better... become a little more experienced and that's only going to happen as we play in our secondary. We'll take the game as it comes, play it, and feel good about our chances.

How has the turf installation gone and would you take the team over there more than you would?
There's grass on the field. They are working on it. We'll go on Friday as we normally do. We don't practice at the stadium until our walk-through on Friday.

We'll see how it is. The only thing is Duke has to play on the field too. Both of us will be out there and hopefully there will be a good enough turf to have a football game.

I jokingly say all the time we'll play in the parking lot, but there is grass so we can at least go in the stadium.

Duke-State has been a big rivalry for a long time, but they don't play every year. Can you talk about the state of the rivalry.... you only play them two years out of six?
No, I don't think it is as much as it is when we play against Carolina or Wake Forest because those are our constant games each year. Somebody said I think Duke hasn't played here since 2001. They've never played in the stadium since it's been renovated I think.

It certainly takes a little edge off what was a great rivalry with the Big Four playing each other, but that's what happened when expansion came along.

Is it more difficult, less difficult to pump up and play a team like that?
No, it's not difficult. It's a conference game and each and every game you're playing to get to the conference championship it's so important.

Most importantly is winning your home games. It's awful difficult to go win on the road. Someone earlier in the week asked me about the Atlantic Division, well the only common thread last week was all the home team's won in Atlantic Division games.

We hear a lot about Carolina and Duke being so close that players bump is socially. Do you guys have that problem?
I'm not positive of that. I've not asked them of their social habits were, but I know they know players on Duke because they went to high school with them, are from the same communities... there are always bragging rights when you go back home for holidays and things like that.

I'm not sure if they go to the same night spots or whatever that might happen in Chapel Hill or Durham. Is it something you remind your players, that Duke has played better football this year?
I think it's obvious. All you have to do is look at the tape of Duke and see how much better they are and what a great job David [Cutcliffe] has done over there. So, our team is very much aware of Duke's capabilities.

As I said, they are the No. 1 pass offense in the conference and we just got torched last week for 361 yards so we've got a lot of work to get done this week to show up and play a great football game which we'll have to do to win.

For years Duke didn't recruit North Carolina very well and the last couple of years coach Cutcliffe has done it. Do you run into them more on the recruiting trail in-state then before?
I'm only in my third year so I don't know about previous, but I know they've certainly made a commitment, just as we have and all the in-state schools have to recruit in-state.

Yes, we have crossed paths with them. They are doing a nice job recruiting. They are a concern for us. How is North Carolina? With five Division-I teams and a couple of strong, smaller teams. Is there enough talent for everybody or a real battle to get the top guys?
I think it's a real battle to get the top guys. You certainly have your national programs coming in and trying to cherry pick a couple of guys here or there.

It's a hard battle for all of us to get what we need, but as I said a long time ago, we just want to get our fair share and move on from there.


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