O'Brien: 'It's Our Fault'

NC State head coach Tom O'Brien discussed the upcoming game against Boston College on his weekly teleconference.

Opening Statement:
The kids know its an important game for our football program going on the road in Alumni Stadium. That's a very difficult place for opponents to go play. We look forward to the challenge of going to Boston and playing on Saturday.

How different is the challenge going from playing quarterbacks who have 42 or 44 career starts to a guy who has had either no starts or a couple?
Unless they change everything they've done... we've played two teams the last two weeks that have thrown the ball two or three times every run attempt they've had against us. I think the numbers for BC have been skewed the other way where they run the ball two or three times for every pass.

Certainly the strength of their offense is their offensive line and their back. [Montel] Harris is probably as good a back as we've played to date. He makes people miss, and he runs away from them. He did a great job rushing the football against Florida State up there.

I don't know how the game is going to transpire. Maybe they want to throw the ball 50 times but that certainly hasn't been their gameplans to date.

Being so far removed from going up there does it feel more normal now than the previous two years?
It feels like a normal road game. There's probably a dozen or more kids up there that are going to play that we recruited and have a lot of great memories and relationships with but it's not quite the number that was there two years ago.

What do you like about Rashard Smith? He seems to have a presence out there in the secondary that you don't see from a young guy.
I think the maturity level is what struck us coming into camp. We started the year with him No. 1 in the substitution package, the inside back for us. He has good skills, but he has great awareness out there and that's something we've been lacking.

We stated many times, we had him starting the second game of the year and he goes down early in that one so we never really had the opportunity to see what he could do at that boundary corner position that we thought.

Here we are in our seventh game of the year with our sixth different starting lineup in the secondary. He's a part of it, and we think he's a part of the solution long-run for our defense.

Are some kids just natural players at that particular position?
I think that's true at a lot of spots. There are kids that see things, have vision, and understand the game. He's just one of those guys, and he has a lot of confidence in himself to play the position. I don't think he's intimidated by anything.

That's one of the conversations we had after the South Carolina game. When the lights came on he wasn't intimidated by anything.

There are five ACC quarterbacks in the top 25 in the nation in passing efficiency. Is it just a matter of them gaining experience or is there something else to explain how it's all of a sudden a quarterback's league?
I think experience has a lot to do with it. We just played quarterbacks, one had started 44 games before we played him, the other started 42, and they looked like it as they played us. You look at our quarterback who came on strong last year and has done a nice job.

The quarterbacks at Miami and Florida State went through their learning year a year ago just as Russell Wilson did. Experience helps you a lot, and it helps to have talent. Certainly all the guys you're talking about have the talent to play the position.

Are there certain things you need to do better on defense this week or do you chalk last week up to playing an experienced quarterback?
No... no, no, no. We need to do a lot of things better, and it's our fault. The third-down conversions, we were horrible. Some of it I think was personnel-related... we had the opportunity to make plays and didn't make them. If you make plays then you're off the field and who knows what happens.

Offensively, the first three possessions of the game were as good as we've played offense since we've been here. Hopefully we're growing up a little bit on offense. We've been healthy the last couple of weeks.

We know going to BC that we're going to play that defense that doesn't give up much rushing yardage and doesn't give up a lot of points. They've been in that system that works and has been a staple for them the last 10 years. We're trying to get to that level.

As I said before, for the sixth time this year we're going with a different secondary. Hopefully this is the one we wanted to be in from the second game on but haven't been able to get to it. Hopefully it's going to be the right one as we continue to build our defense for the future.

Are you going to unleash that pass rush this week as the VT pass rush gave BC trouble last week?
We've tried to do that the last two weeks. We were able to make it to Riley Skinner six times. We only got to Lewis twice last week.

What we're seeing more and more the last two weeks is a lot of max protection, doubling our ends, chipping on the way out. We've got to do a better job on defense, especially in the coverage mode, because people are anticipating that rush up front.

How tense does it get in coaching meetings? Does it come close to blows?
I can't really say I've ever seen it. The closest that I've ever... and I don't think it was close to coming to blows. When I first went to Navy and got back from Japan in August of '75 and was a part of that staff. That was the days of the old 16mm... you never had endzone tape.

We had two great coaches, Gary Tranquil and Tom Bresnahan, who went on to be a professional and was the line coach I learned from. They would almost spend an hour arguing over if the nose guard was shaded or not as it pertained to the running game. That's how I learned attention to detail and how important little things were.

Gary would always end the argument saying, "Just block him." Not that it was a disagreement... I've never been in situations, that's as classy as it gets.

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