JOHNSON: Pack Still a Work In Progress

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State might have started its season on a high note, but head coach Tom O'Brien saw plenty of problems.

It's hard to find fault in a 41-point victory. Unless you're the head coach.

And NC State's head coach, Tom O'Brien, saw plenty of warts during the Pack's 48-7 demolishing of Western Carolina on Saturday night. O'Brien is fond of saying that a team is never as good as it thinks after a win and never as bad as it thinks after a loss. The Pack head coach wanted it to be clear following the win that his team wasn't as good as the final score indicated.

Even star quarterback Russell Wilson, who threw for 306 yards and four touchdowns, wasn't above reproach.

"We aren't where we have to be offensively. We have to get Russell back into the swing of things," O'Brien said. "One time we had 12 guys in the huddle and he didn't know it – he has to know that. He's not anywhere close to where he was at the end of last year."

The 12-man huddle set O'Brien off in a way rarely seen. The normally calm and collected O'Brien called timeout from the sidelines and proceeded to chew out Wilson and the rest of the offense on the sidelines. It might seem like nit-picking to take Wilson to task for a mistake that didn't even result in a penalty, But its a clear indication of what a high standard he plans on holding Wilson and the offense to this season.

The offensive line also had its break-downs during the contest, a combination of freshman running backs missing blocks and freshman lineman still learning. The Pack gave up a couple of sacks, not to mention giving up a hit on back-up quarterback Mike Glennon that sent him to the sidelines with a bruised knee. O'Brien blamed that hit on Glennon trying to be a little too much like Wilson, but acknowledged that the line still has a lot of work to do.

"It's a work in progress and we'll continue to coach them," O'Brien said. "They are tough kids and they've accepted the challenge. We have to get a lot better. The schedule gets a lot tougher."

O'Brien was also unhappy with the way the defense started, giving up an 87-yard touchdown drive to start the game. He blamed much of it on the defense moving too fast, but did give them credit for putting it together and allowing just over 100 yards the rest of the night.

"We over-ran the ball and gave up 87 yards on one series and then played pretty good defense the rest of the way," O'Brien said. "To their credit, we came in at halftime and got them organized, got them settled down and we got two big three-and-outs to start the third quarter."

But when reporters brought up the name T.J. Graham, who led the team in receiving with 96 yards on six catches and two touchdowns, O'Brien's tone changed. He praised the junior wide-out for his progression over the last year.

"T.J. came in not as much as a receiver but as a track guy," O'Brien said. "We knew he could catch when we had him in camp, we were very confident he could catch the ball. The run after the catch is something he's had to learn how to do."

It's no coincidence that In a press conference where O'Brien spent most of his time picking apart every aspect of his team, he stopped to praise Graham. The junior has listened to the coaching staff and applied those lessons, and he's closer now to reaching his full potential because of it. If the coaching staff can get the same kind of results from the rest of its players, O'Brien might have a much shorter list of issues in the future.


Pack Pride Top Stories