Tom O'Brien Radio Show Quotes

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Tom O'Brien held his weekly radio show at Backyard Bistro off Trinity Road, and the third-year head coach answered several questions from host Tony Haynes and Wolfpack fans.

During the bye week, do you and your coordinators actually go back and dissect every play that's been run on offense and defense in the first seven games?
Certainly. We chart everything. It takes a couple of days... that's what you have to do. That's what we do and hopefully we'll come out do a better job coaching, a better job playing... and we'll win some football games.

After going through all the film, did one or two things stand out to you?
I don't know if there's anything that stood out in terms of real surprises. I think going in we kind of anticipated what some of the problems were, and it kind of reconfirmed what those issues are. We still have some issues we're dealing with that we have to work through.

Is it difficult to make major changes this late in the season?
I don't think you can make major changes philosophically in what you're doing. You can make minor changes. I think the thing you can do is maybe make personnel changes if that's available to you. I think those are the things... it still comes down to getting people to execute and do the things we have to do to be successful.

You can tweak what you're doing but you can't wholesale... you can't go from the spread offense to the wishbone offense.

We just have to do a better job coaching and playing.

You lost James Washington last week in practice with a knee injury. Is it a an injury he can come back from and be a productive player?
It's non-surgical so it's going to just take five or six week's rest. That's all we have left so I doubt seriously if he'll make it back for the season. It is what it is.

Ten players are now out with season-ending injuries. Have you ever confronted a number like that in your coaching career?
Never. I don't know of any college football team that's had a situation where they've had ten guys out for the year, especially halfway through the year, which is where we are.

Going back and looking at what we did at BC, I don't know if we had ten guys out in five or six years total there. We thought we had it bad last year when we had four guys out for the season. It makes it awful difficult on the football team, but these kids have hung in there. They've accepted the challenge, and we have to move forward.

We still would like to keep the redshirts on all the freshmen because that's best for the future, but the future is now. We have to see going forward where we go with that.

It makes it more difficult to overcome. When you look at it, seven [of the players out] would be playing a good amount of football for us. When you're in the situation we are... we're not an established program. If we were here ten years... ten [sidelined] would still be a big number, but it wouldn't affect us the way it does now because of the lack of depth, lack of experience, and everything else that comes with continuity within the program.

It destroys the continuity of what you're trying to get done week-in and week-out. As a position coach you're out there coaching a guy, you're working hard to get him better and all of a sudden he's gone and you have to do it again with someone else.

Where it has hurt us the most is certainly in the secondary. We had two defections coming into the year; two guys who left the program who would have figured into where we are. You look and we're starting our seventh different secondary in eight games and that takes away all the consistency and continuity you want to have.

C.J. Wilson is now starting at the boundary corner. Does he give you the best chance to win?
He does. He's all we have left. That's who we are. We are who we are. We're going to go down there with the guys we have, and we intend to win a football game. The kids have accepted it... they've accepted the challenge. That's what is fun right now. We're a little bit wounded, but we're going to go down there and fight.

You run a style of defense designed to force turnovers. How disappointed are you in the lack of turnovers forced so far?
We're disappointed because we have to get more. We haven't got as many hands on passes that we should. We haven't tipped any balls or knocked any balls away. That's part of playing that zone defense scheme... we have to be closer and knock some balls in the air and catch them when we have the opportunity.

That's all part of coaching, and we have to do a better job at that.

Have teams played more zone against Russell Wilson because of his ability to make big plays running the ball with receivers running off corners and also forcing him to throw to spots?
In the Boston College game that's what they do. We expected it, we knew it was coming. They threw one different coverage wrinkle in there and figured out this is what they have to do a little bit. What we didn't do was put the ball where it was supposed to be. Those are things we worked on last week where if we see them again we'll be able to take advantage of them.

Do you think the recent losses will affect the status of committed recruits?
No we haven't. In fact all of them have been very adamant about the fact that... I don't know if it matters one way or another what we are. They are committed to coming and being a part of the building process that we're doing. If they are not and don't want to then they are not the kind of guys we want anyways.

I think we have the right guys committed, and I think they are excited about the opportunity of coming in and being a part of the process. We know it is a journey, and they want to be a part of that. They can tell that we're banged up, hurt, and have some things going on. I think we'll be fine.

When we went on our summer vacation, Bob Stoops was on the same vacation. We talked about the recruiting process and all these guys committing and decommitting. He said the best players he ever recruited, the Adrian Peterson's and those guys, they would say, "Coach, don't call me. I'm committed. I'm showing up. I don't care what goes on. I'm coming to Oklahoma and playing. I want to be a part of the process." He said it's the guys we have to keep chasing and going after... I just told my coaches to forget about them. They aren't going to be any good anyways.

Thoughts on the early signing period... would a high percentage of recruits take advantage of it?
Certainly. You would see less kids decommitting because they would make their decisions by then. It's become an epidemic now in the country, kids decommitting.

What are your expectations for the rest of the season?
We win every football game. That's what we're going to do and setting out to get done. This football team believes in itself, the coaching staff believes in the team, and we're going to work the best we can... go down to Florida State, fire all our bullets and see what happens.

Thoughts on Georgia Tech... they are arguably the best team in the ACC running a unique scheme. They have run 542 offensive plays. 452 of those plays have been rushes. They've only thrown the ball 90 times. Is that an aberration of what they are doing?
They've done a nice job. Paul Johnson has that offense rolling. It's well-coached, like anything else... it's a scheme they believe in. They are recruiting to the scheme, and they have people who can execute the scheme. They do a great job with their execution... that's what they are able to do and they've played great football to this point in the season.

With the secondary struggling to make open field tackles, is more press coverage something you'll look at?
Yes. It's certainly something that we've looked at, and in certain situations it's something we can utilize. There's a lot of different things we have to be looking at and doing to help our secondary out.

You're getting ready to play Florida State. With their receivers, how crucial is limiting yards after catch?
They are going to catch some balls, but that's where we got into trouble. If you go back to Duke, we gave up too many yards after the catch. It's acceptable to let guys catch the ball, but it's not acceptable to let them run ten yards after they catch it.

Why don't you show more emotion on the sidelines? Players normally feed off the head coach.
That's a good point, but I don't think I have to show too much where I incapacitate myself and not be able to make decisions I have to make.

You talk about motivation a lot with kids playing, but you can't be too hyped up. It's like a cup of coffee, sooner or later it gets cold and the caffeine wears off... then what are you going to do? You're better off to build yourself up, prepare yourself in practice to play 60 minutes of hard-nosed football, and then whatever happens you're ready to play the first minute or the last minute of the game.

It's a game that has to be played with passion and desire, but there's a lot of different ways to do things. That's just my style.

They know when I'm mad. I never try to embarrass the players in public. Somebody asked me if I ever get mad. I said, "Yes, I get mad a lot, but I'm not going to do it and embarrass anybody or embarrass our school." I'll take care of things in my own way with the team. They can tell you... I get a little upset.

I think more coaches fail when they try to be somebody else. You have got to be yourself, do what you believe in, and it's been successful for me. Certainly, if I could jump up-and-down, do cartwheels, and that would win a football game for us I'd be happy to do it, but I don't believe that's going to help us win a football game right now. Thoughts on FSU's offense under Jimbo Fisher:
They are not as conventional. They used to have good people, line up and beat you with people. Now they are beating you with the scheme. They are spreading the field, putting four wides on the field, and beating you with their skill level.

Do you honestly feel the defensive scheme State is running is the best for what you want to achieve with the Wolfpack?
Certainly I do. We've been convinced of that no moreso than after this last evaluation. We're going to continue to work the scheme and get better at it. We're going to recruit players to help us be better at it, and we're going to coach it better.

If Toney Baker is granted a sixth year will it be covered by scholarship?
Certainly. The NCAA wouldn't give us a sixth year if they don't think he's able to get that sixth year. I'd think he has a strong argument to get that sixth year. The paperwork is in the pipeline right now so hopefully we'll get a decision.

How much control do head coaches have of their bye week on the schedule?
We have nothing to do with how the ACC puts together the schedule... I don't have anything to do with scheduling.

Can you tell the story about the coaches naming the offensive and defensive MVPs at midseason?
They asked who we would vote for and Toney Baker was the unanimous guy on offense for the MVP, and Alan-Michael Cash was the unanimous vote by the staff for our defensive MVP... the guys who have played the best to this date on either side of the football.

Can you tell us why you chose Mike Archer as your defensive coordinator three years ago? Do you feel he's been the coordinator and recruiter you thought he'd be?
Certainly. He has a lot of experience coaching defenses and running defenses. He was a part of coach Cowher's staff when he was with the Pittsburgh Steelers and has a great wealth of knowledge. He was a part of our staff when we were at the University of Virginia so we got to know what type of person he was... great character guy, great teacher, great family guy.

He was a part of building a defense at the University of Kentucky. As they improved, a lot of it he did with the defense at the University of Kentucky, not a place known as a traditional power, and he did a great job creating turnovers.

We're committed that he's the guy to coach the defense here. Certainly he's had some hurdles and obstacles to overcome, but he's doing the job that can be expected of him and we'll get better as a defense as time goes on.

Why doesn't NC State rush more and put seven or eight guys in the box?
We do. We had nine guys in the box against BC to stop the run and didn't do a good job. One thing the defense likes to do is have more guys than the offense does and that's the style of defense. We have eight guys around... the defense is constructed to make that happen.

As I said, and it's really disturbing to us, we had nine guys committed to the run, basically singled up on the outside and still had trouble stopping them running the football.

Christian Ponder hit a 98-yard touchdown pass against UNC that turned that game around. When you think of Florida State, that's something they would do. Is that something you have to expect even when you have them backed up?
Expect the unexpected. I think that's a good rule when you play a Florida State team... they do a great job of throwing the ball. It was a stutter-and-go, a double route, Carolina's defensive back slipped, and then it was off to the races. Generally Florida State wins races.

It seems the speed of the football team has dropped significantly in the last three years. Do you agree with that?
I don't know that. We're playing with the same receivers we have. The tight end gone... Anthony Hill is gone, he's the only one there as far as skill speed. We have the same backs.

I think maybe the secondary, but that's a factor; there's not a lot of guys here, DeAndre Morgan is the only guy left from the original grouping and a lot of our kids are young kids now.

You play faster when you understand what you're doing. It's not a question of flat-out speed, it's a question of playing within the scheme, playing fast within the scheme of things. The more you understand and the more comfortable you are the faster you execute. That's generally the problem with young kids.

Have you seen any signs of negativity among the team after three losses? How do you keep the team positive?
We talk a lot about it. We're circling the wagons, and we're the only people that understand what the situation really is. Negative comments have never helped anybody do anything of note.

We're staying positive with the football team, we're coaching them, and they are being positive with their approach. We'll continue to go forward and not pay attention to any negativity if there is any.


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