O'Brien: Collaros Will Challenge Pack's D

O'Brien: Collaros Will Challenge Pack's D

N.C. State head coach Tom O'Brien discussed this week's game against Cincinnati in his weekly teleconference. O'Brien talked about several players, including Jake Vermiglio and Mustafa Greene.

Opening Statement:
Well, our football team's excited about the opportunity to play Thursday night against a very good Cincinnati team. They present a lot of problems both offensively and defensively for us. But as I said, our kids are excited with the opportunity to play on national TV on Thursday night here.

I think I remember when your staff came in that Jake Vermiglio was one of the first guys that you got committed. Do you remember how you learned about him, and what attracted you guys to him talent-wise?
We knew about him from our days up in New England when we were at Boston College. And when we came down we just followed our lead from when we were recruiting him at B.C. to recruiting him here.

So we saw an offensive lineman. He has really good feet and he can run. That's been a lot of the success with a lot of our linemen throughout the year that they have not been heavy legged, they have to move their feet to get into a position to be an offensive lineman.

He actually played hockey in high school. Can you imagine that guy on skates? Do you think that's one reason he has pretty good feet?
Oh, I think it is. Do you remember a kid named Jimmy Dombrowski that played for me at Virginia?

Yeah.
He was a hockey goalie too. So that's not uncommon for kids in the northeast. I think that speaks to the ability to move their feet and be quick on their feet.

When you were down in Orlando or before you left, did you have a chance to talk to Mike Leach in his presentations for the first broadcast? And did you get a chance to see any of his commentary or hear any of his commentary?
We talked on the phone, as always. There is always a conference call, generally if you're the home team like we are, we'll meet with ESPN commentators today. But generally if you're the road team, you have a conference call on the phone. So we did talk before the game, and I certainly don't watch anything on TV once it's over.

When you have a guy who is a coach like that, and he's now become a broadcaster, is it easier to deal with a guy like that, or do you feel a little uncomfortable?
No, I didn't feel uncomfortable at all. I think what it does though is you talk. There is a different questioning that goes on. It's more of a knowledge-based question. That's not knocking former players, but when you've talked to a guy that's coached as many years as a guy like Bob Davey has or Mike Leach has and you go through the different guys that have coached and coached at the highest levels, they ask really good, pertinent questions that I don't think other people would think of.

I talked to Archer, and he said that he still is in "believe it when he sees it" mode with his defense. Obviously they've shown a lot of improvement. Do you think you guys need a little bit of a tougher test or was last weekend good enough to convince you that they've made significant improvements?
I think we've made improvement. Whether it's significant or not, I'm not going to buy in for a while. We've only played two games, so there is a lot of football left to play. We'll be severely challenged with Collaros here on Thursday night.

We had a little trouble with Godfrey, the kid that is a run-throw type of kid at the end of the game down there in Central Florida. They have really good, skilled people, and they have a veteran offensive line.

Each week, I think, will present a different challenge to our defense. We're certainly not going to think that we're a finished product by any stretch of the imagination.

I guess you hear more about maybe Cincinnati's offense. But it feels like their defense has been pretty effective early in the season. What are you seeing from that defense? Can you just sort of talk about the problems that that might present?
Well, they're very aggressive, and they run very well. There's always a lot of black helmets around the football when the play's over, so they have experience. They hit the linebacker in the secondary.

They've changed and really done a nice job, because I think this is the third scheme. They were a four-three, and then they went to three-four, and now they're back to a four-three scheme. So, you know, the coaches have really done a great job getting these guys lined up. They have two big powerful guys in the middle playing at the nose and the tackle position that are a handful. They've got good guys that can run on the edge. We'll have our work cut out for us.

You've got young running backs, obviously. What do you have to tell them this week as they kind of get ready for this?
Tell them to keep on getting better each and every week. I think they have, they've done that from the first snap in the first game, and ball security still is the most important thing. Make sure you hold on to the football, and we're not going to turn it over and head towards the goal line.

Monday when you talked to us you mentioned that the team had appeared a little sluggish in that day's practice. Has that problem cleared up? Are you still worried about how the team might be tomorrow?
I'm worried about how they'll be, and we won't know until tomorrow night. Hopefully we've balanced the act of getting enough work in, but not at the expense of trying to get our legs back so we can be fresh and playing four quarters of fast football.

You also mentioned that today's practice might just be a glorified walk through. Is that pretty much what we're going to do?
No, we're already finished,and it was a glorified walk through.

To follow up on the challenge of dealing with Collaros, what do you need to do better to defend that kind of quarterback?
We didn't contain. Even when they did contain, when they brought him in, he was fresh legged and we were tired legged. We got a little sloppy. We let him out of the pocket on two or three different occasions, where all we had to do was contain him. The rush was coming from the back side and we could have gotten him down and gotten him off the football field.

So you have to concentrate on staying in your gaps and staying in your lanes and keeping him in front of you, not letting him outside where he can create all kinds of problems running or throwing the football.

Wondering if you could expand a little bit upon what you think about the development of the ground game for you guys with Mustafa Greene and Dean Haynes, especially considering the equal number of carries that they have, and good yardage they had against UCF?
Well, it's still a work in progress, not only them, but the offensive line. We had five guys playing the football game, the first game for the first time in their college career, and two running backs that had never been in a game.

So I think it's an evolution that's ongoing. We continue to work very hard. Those kids are sharing series, they're going every other series. I think that's probably how it evens out the run. No one was playing a heck of a lot more plays than the other one, and we're just trying to get one good back out of two guys playing hard.

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