O'Brien: Pack Has A Lot To Prove

RALEIGH, N.C. -- At today's press conference, NC State head coach Tom O'Brien discussed the upcoming game against Western Carolina with the media.

Tom O'Brien

Opening Statement:
Camp concludes officially tomorrow and we were turn our attention to Western Carolina Saturday night. I'll be happy to answer any questions that you have about our football program.

We don't have a depth chart at this time because we are not finished working through some of the issues that we have as far as positional things right now, but that will be released on Monday once we finish our evaluations after practice tomorrow and proceed Sunday in our normal game-week preparation.

Do you have a position that you feel, other than quarterback, you are most comfortable with and then one you're uncertain about at this point?
Certainly offensively the wide receiver is a position of strength when you look at the experience we have coming back and the caliber of player in Owen Spencer and Jarvis Williams. They are prepared to have an excellent year.

When you look at the offensive line, it is still a major concern for us. Generally how your offensive line goes that is how your offense is going to go. That would be a problem situation certainly on this football team right now.

Thoughts on Robert Crisp, David Amerson, and D.J. Green... are they going to play or redshirt?
I think that there are going to be probably a hand full of freshmen on the two-deep when it comes out. I'm not going to disclose what we're going to do right now until I talk to all individuals involved. It's better when it comes from me on Sunday or Monday prior to Tuesday's practice when we go to a scout team situation.

We have to make it through practice tomorrow. We've been pretty good on the injury front and we're hoping we make it through one more day.

Obviously you're aware of what's going on at North Carolina. Do you feel sympathy? Do you feel relief? What are your feelings about what is going on over there right now?
Thursday night is date night so Jenny and I went out to dinner last night... I came back and saw it on the news.

I believe what they said. They have identified a problem. I believe them when they say they will rectify the situation. That's my only thought on it one way or another.

As I said from the start, the main concern that we have is North Carolina State. I can't worry about what happens to other programs, other than how it may affect our program.

My concern always will be that we do everything we can to win a championship banner and we look forward to having a great season.

That's my only feeling one way or another on that situation.

Does it serve as a cautionary tale for the program?
I think everyone always is alert to potential problems that you have, especially when you talk about agents or in the academic area.

You certainly work and strive to make sure that everything you do is a benefit to the individual involved, that your players are treated properly and they are given the support they need to succeed. That has to be within the limits and regulations of what your school policies are.

I feel very confident in our learning resources and our support staff and what our people do for our student-athletes. I think they have been vigilant in every respect as far as tutorials and everything else. I'm satisfied with where we are.

We're certainly not where we have to be as far as APR and we're working on that. We've made a couple of changes in the last couple of years that I think will really help us academically and get us back to a point that I think is acceptable to where we should be academically.

How do you get your team to not look past Western Carolina?
That would be an insult to Western Carolina. One thing about them, they have Carolina in their name and that's always a big game for anybody here at State.

This team I think has a little chip on their shoulder. They have a lot to prove. One thing about college football is every game is a championship game. If you want to be a champion, especially in college football, you have to win every game so there is no way this team will ever look an opponent one way or another.

It will be an opportunity for them to come showcase their program. We welcome the challenge.. they are in their third year and have experience up front on defense and in their secondary. They play basically a four-linemen, three-linebacker scheme the way we do.

Offensively, a coordinator in this third year. 60% of the time they are in one-back formations. It will be a good challenge. They have an excellent tailback coming back and it will be a good challenge for our run defense.

At this point your football team is excited to play somebody other than themselves. This was somewhat a challenging week.

What we tried to do this week, we tried to keep them mentally alert, we actually practiced each day against one of our first four opponents. We worked a day against Cincinnati, we worked a day against Central Florida, we worked a day against Georgia Tech, just to try to keep their minds focused on something else and then we'll turn our attention to Western Carolina in Sunday's practice.

With everything at your disposal, how much more comfortable are you approaching this season than your others in Raleigh?
We're much more comfortable as a coaching staff. This team is as close to those teams I coached at Boston College in terms of being a football team and not being a me-group of organization, a bunch of "me" guys.

Obviously the key is to keep our best guys healthy and play with our best guys, and we're due a little luck in that department.

There are also guys who now have three or four years experience in the system and that's worth its weight in gold. We're relatively still young, 49 scholarships are in the freshmen and sophomore classes and a lot of those got experience last year. Hopefully that will be good for us as we go on.

This team has been focused throughout preseason camp and have worked extremely hard. We've created competition which I like. I think competition will make everybody better and there has been some very good battles that have gone on during preseason camp.

You mentioned guys getting experience last year on defense. Are there still some scars to work through?
Hopefully we've identified the areas of improvement we have to make. A lot of the things where they may have been scarred were mental errors they made through inexperience.

Hopefully we worked hard enough in our meetings and our coaching that we won't have those mental mistakes. They certainly seem to be more confident and knowledgeable of what they are doing and in turn are playing faster... I think we're seeing that out of the defense or have.

The key will be once we start playing. They've seen the same offense now for 15 practices in the spring and going on 24 practices tomorrow. They should be accustomed to what they are seeing.

How is the running back situation?
I think it's still a tight battle. If I asked Dana today who the starting tailback would be I don't know if he'd be able to tell me.

We're going to have to make that decision on Sunday. We'll certainly make it and go forward... it may not be resolved for a couple of weeks until we get into game action and see how these kids play and react.

Thoughts on Mike Archer moving to the field with Jon Tenuta in the box:
We sit down and talked on what was best for both... Jon has never been on the sideline. If you've never been on the sideline that's quite a change... your whole perspective of the game changes. Mike's been on the sideline before, he's done both, and he has familiarity on the sideline.

It's just best for both, for the comfort level for Jon to go upstairs and Mike to be on the sideline. Plus, I think it's better sometimes for a coordinator to be on the sideline... if you have to make adjustments, you're there to do it and it's not second-hand.


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