O'Brien Encouraged by Start

O'Brien Encouraged by Start

N.C. State head coach Tom O'Brien discussed this week's game against Boston College in his weekly teleconference. O'Brien talked about several players, including George Bryan and Nate Irving.

Opening Statement:
We're preparing very hard to get back on track here. We're trying to find a way to win a football game, and certainly Boston College can be a great challenge for us coming in here, and we look forward to the opportunity to see if we can bounce back this week.

I was looking back at your first recruiting class at N.C. State. And it's interesting that a lot of the members of that class are still in the program, which doesn't always happen, and you have a lot of them contributing. Could you think back of when you first got to State and you sort of assessed the commitments that you had, what did you see and what was it like to have to scramble to put that whole class together?
Well, it's always difficult when you come in, especially when you come in, I think that was made with one week left in the December period. At that time I had not brought any of my staff with me, because they were still busy. Boston College had a chance to win ten games for the first time since 1984.

I told the staff that the guys that were coming to stay there, and coach them so those kids could have that opportunity. It put us behind the eight ball. We basically had the month of January, and we scrambled around, but certainly we got some pretty good kids out of that class that are contributing for us now.

Are you surprised at all when you look at your team, you look at a lot of these kids who have sort of been in this program and are contributing, that doesn't happen a lot of times when you have coaching changes. Seems like that class to some extent is the back bone of what you've done this year?
They, and the next recruiting class, the next bunch of guys are the guys that have made this up. I think there's only a handful of guys that are real fifth-year guys that are playing football for us. Augustin and Nate Irving on defense, and then Jarvis Williams with Darrell Davis and Gary Gregory offense.

They are the only fifth-year guys we have that are left from the class we inherited. So it's a good thing these two classes are pretty good or we'd be in tough shape right now.

I was wondering if I could ask you about the progress your program has made since you came here from Boston College? It was a move with where N.C. State was at the time and where Boston College where you had them at the time kind of surprised some people. Yet, now, you look like perhaps N.C. State is starting to turn the corner, that you've made a lot of progress since then. Can you talk about it a little bit?
Well, I think certainly the start we got off to this year was encouraging to everyone. Not only the players, the coaching staff, but I think the Wolfpack Nation. The whole key was to stay injury-free. As far as the move goes, certainly it was a tough decision to leave Boston College. We had ten great years there. But were certainly looking at that point for a new and my last challenge.

At that time the opportunity to get back down south, closer to where we intend to end up back down South closer to Charleston, South Carolina, was very appealing to us. Never been one to back down from a challenge. I look forward to continue to grow with this program.

This will be a good test for us this week to come back off a really tough loss for this football team that they experienced last week. To see if we were grown up and mature enough to handle it and find a way to beat a Boston College team that will be very good here on Saturday.

When you saw George Bryan play in high school and decided he was someone you wanted in your program, did you ever anticipate that he would be as good as he is now? And did you anticipate he would develop as quickly as he did? Because I believe he was 7th on the depth chart at one point, and very quickly because of injuries and other reasons, climbed up fast and produced right away.
Well, the previous two questions, we didn't get to see George in high school because he was one of the guys that when we came here in December he was being recruited by the previous staff. As we got to know George and watched him on tape and everything, we thought that we had a chance to have a very good player.

George was thrown into the fire early in his career as a redshirt freshman here. His third game as a redshirt freshman. He was starting down there at Clemson because of injuries to the guys in front of him. So that was all tough on him early. But that experience has helped him be a much better player at this point, certainly he's an ACC caliber tight end.

When you did take over at N.C. State and had guys like George that were being recruited by the previous staff, how much did you put into watching him on him? How did that whole process go not just with him, but the class in general because you had to scramble so quickly?
Well, we did go back and looked at as much tape as we could have, the guys that they were recruiting. At that point Curt Cignetti was still here until the end of September when I brought my staff in. And he was very valuable to us in terms of appraising who they were recruiting and the guys they thought very little of.

We did have the opportunity to go down and watch him play basketball and watch him compete. He was very good basketball player and competitive on the basketball court. And all of that ties into the process that we should go forward and get him to come to State.

Coming off that loss, what did you need to improve upon for the Boston College game?
Well, in the second half, our defense looked like it did at times last year. That was very discouraging to us. We had trouble getting lined up, had trouble tackling, so those are all things that we've emphasized forever.

But go back to the drawing board and we have to be much more precise against good football teams, especially a team like Virginia Tech that will take advantage of any mistake you make.

About Nate Irving, he got off to -- I hate to say a slow start, because everybody knows what happened to him. But he wasn't as dominant early in the season as he had been two years ago. What have you seen and what has changed? Because now you're starting to see his tackle numbers, the explosiveness that we saw in the past sort of come out. Could you sort of talk about his play and what you're seeing now?
I think the key with Nate is his experience is a great tool for anyone to have. And playing in the middle, everything was a little different. You'll try to do all you can in practice to prepare a guy to play, but there is nothing like game experience. The more he's played, the more comfortable he's felt, the faster he's now playing. He's much quicker with his reads and understands where he's supposed to be and what he's supposed to do. So I think all that comes down to having played the game.

The first two games he got better by the third game, fourth game, and fifth game, which is something we all strive to do is get better each and every game.

Is he physically where he was before the accident?
I don't think he'll ever get back to that because of the trauma that was at the accident, but he's still awfully close.

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