NOTEBOOK: O'Brien Focused on Improving Team

BOSTON – Had things worked out differently, Montel Harris could have done what he did here yesterday to NC State LAST week.

O'Brien wasn't involved in any contact with Harris, who ran for 264 yards and five touchdowns against State yesterday, before leaving BC. But he said yesterday his replacement, Jeff Jagodzinski, told him, "They went and signed him the last week of the signing period. He was committed to Duke."

The Blue Devils, playing, of course, without Harris, hung 49 on the Pack last week. Harris did his thing yesterday, setting BC records for yards and rushing touchdowns.

That, combined with all the mistakes State made here yesterday, led to O'Brien moving to 0-3 against his old team.

And when it was over, he made his way across the field turf to old friend Frank Spaziani, the man who probably should have replaced O'Brien in the first place and then replaced Jagodzinski. The two worked together for 26 years and are extremely close.

O'Brien wouldn't reveal what was said, but the words "Good job" could be read on his lips. O'Brien also had greetings for players he recruited and coached.

"Just good luck and we'll talk later," he said. "The normal."

He admitted it isn't easy being 0-3 against the Eagles.

"It's tough but life goes on. It's on us – we've gotta be a better football team."

That was his focus. "Obviously, we're not a good football team right now," he said.

"We have some holes that we have to plug, whether it's by coaching, recruiting or playing, we've gotta fill them."

O'Brien said the bye week will be spent like they're always spent, trying to improve.

But you get the feeling there's a sense of urgency here with this team these days.

There's a lot of work to do and everyone knows it.

"I'm frustrated but it's not the time to lose my cool, and kinda say forget about it," said Willie Young. "It's an opportunity going into the bye week for us to recuperate and come out strong against Florida State."

The Pack became the latest ACC opponent to make a donation to BC star to the Uplifting Athletes foundation for the battle against rare diseases, making a $10,000 presentation to BC star Mark Herzlich, who is fighting a battle against Ewing Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer.

The Pack also presented Herzlich with a Wolf statue, symbolizing strength. Herzlich, the 2008 ACC defensive player of the year, is winning his battle and hopes to play again next season.

*- State, which didn't commit a penalty last week, went into the third quarter yesterday before being flagged and had three, for 30 yards, for the game.

*- O'Brien said without looking at the film, nothing positive really stood out from his team.

*- Linebacker Ray Michel left in the second half with a lower leg injury and didn't return, but that might not mean much with the game out of control.

*- BC quarterback David Shinskie, called "Uncle Dave" by his teammates because he's a 25-year-old freshman (he played pro baseball for six years), was 1-for-12 for four yards and an interception (for a touchdown last week at Virginia Tech and was 13-for-25 for 187 yards, two TDs and no picks yesterday. *- State was 2-for-4 on fourth-down conversions… Audie Cole had a thunderous sack on Shinskie, one of the few bright spots… Rashard Smith returned to the starting lineup and even though he was beaten to a long pass by a taller Colin Larmond Jr., seemed to play a solid game in the secondary.

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