O'Brien: Every Year is Different

NC State head coach Tom O'Brien fielded questions from the media today during his weekly teleconference. O'Brien talked about cornerback Rashard Smith, recruiting, the bye week, and much more.

Opening Statement:
We certainly need to get back on the practice field this week. There's a lot of things, after the last two weeks, that we have to get corrected. We'll go back and spend a lot of time on fundamentals, base offense, base defense, and kicking game... see if we can come out of these three days a better football team.

Is Rashard Smith's injury similar to Russell's where it is a non-surgery, but rehab deal? Also, who are you looking for to step up in the secondary with him out
It's exactly the same injury. His knee drove into the turf in the second quarter when he knocked the ball down on the deep pass. He actually played the rest of the game with it, didn't tell anybody which jeopardized his whole knee. It's a 12-[week] rehab period that he'll go through and hopefully he'll be back and ready for spring practice.

It's certainly a setback for us. After starting six different secondary groups in seven games we thought we'd be locked in here. That's part of the thing Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday that we have to work through... find out what we're going to do with the secondary.

With the open date and days the players will get off, is that as important to them mentally as it is physically?
It certainly is... they have to, I think the mental part is big right now for this football team. We haven't had the same type of play the last two weeks as we did the previous five weeks. It's something we have to get back, as coaches, and I have to get them back, flying around and doing things. We've had effort, there doesn't seem to be a spark.

Mentally we'll get away from it and come back and start our second season on Sunday as we prepare for Florida State.

Do you like for the staff to take a day off too or just get back at it?
They've been recruiting Monday, Tuesday, and we'll recruit again Friday. They'll get a day off on Saturday. The same thing for them, we understand the situation we're in and know we've got to get this thing headed in the right direction and the work we have to do.

It's important for them to get some time off too, spend some time with their family, and we'll come back refreshed on Sunday and see what we can do the second half of the year.

Do you think there is a reason you won your last three games after a bye, going back to your last year at BC?
I don't know. Hopefully we do a good job of going back and doing fundamentals, getting things structured. Every year is different. At BC we were an established program, here we're still in flux and trying to get things more solidified. Consistency has hurt us more than anything right now for the past two years.

I don't have an answer, but I hope it holds true now.

Do you look forward to getting back to the basics?
Yes. Just going through the three years here, our first year we didn't know what we were, the personnel, and we were trying to put square pegs into round holes and we changed it that week to do it. Last year we were getting guys healthy again and back in, plus we coach the freshmen the same as we coach the starters this week. We give everyone equal opportunity because the philosophy always is you play for today but you're playing for the future anytime you go on the practice field or do anything in the program.

The situation we run into this year is the injury situation. Now we have guys getting hurt. Instead of guys coming back, we're losing guys. You'd never suspect that with all the injuries last year we'd be sitting here with nine guys out for the season... five who could really be helping this football program. You couple that with the two guys we lost after spring practice who left the program this summer, especially in the secondar... one was projected a starter that could really help solidify and give us the consistency we need.

It's even more important this year because we're going to have to find some new players to play positions for us the next five years.

You mentioned the recruiting. How important is the recruiting you do during an open date? Do you look at juniors, seniors?
We're working on this year's class. We're really excited about the direction of recruiting and where it's going now. There are some other guys, holes that we have to fill on this football team. A lot of times in this off week it becomes apparent... you spend time on that aspect of it, where we have to go and finish up another excellent recruiting year... put three classes back together that will be the future of this football program.

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