O'Brien: "We're Banged Up"

O'Brien: "We're Banged Up"

NC State head coach Tom O'Brien fielded questions from the media today on his weekly teleconference and talked about the health of his team, Mike Rose's blocked punt, and much more.

Opening Statement:
The off week we're using it hopefully wisely. We have some-- we're banged up, beat up a little bit, going to try to get some guys healthy.

But at the same time spend a lot of time trying to get better individually. We'll coach everybody, scout team guys, the guys that are red shirt freshmen that-- or the freshmen we're looking to red shirt, we'll try to get them as much practice time tomorrow as we can and Friday morning as we go forward.

The key to us is trying to get some guys healthy and back. We lost Forrest West for the season probably on Saturday night with a broken ankle, so he and Zach Allen both are now out for the year. Just try to get to be a better football team this week.

Mike Rose obviously came up with a huge blocked punt. What kinds of things have to go right in a situation like that in other parts of that play to enable him to get there and block it?
Well, it's a block that we worked on all week. I think Jerry Petercuskie, our special teams coach, thought that we could have the opportunity to get that.

When it presented itself-- everybody has to do their job, and first off, the three, four guys inside got off the ball really well, got off really quick, got across the line of scrimmage, and then as they get to that three-man surface there, they got there at the same time, and what happened is he was able to split the two guys.

It's ironic because generally that would have been Logan Winkles' spot. Rose is about five inches taller and has a larger wing span, was able to get his hand on the ball, and that ended up being a huge play in the game because it ended up being about a six-yard change of possession in the spot of the ball.

So Rose was actually in for somebody else?
Uh-huh, he was a backup in that spot. It's something that everybody practices, but he got his opportunity and made the most of it. He made a great play.

Just looking at your games, I'm struck by the fact that your defense has had some really poor games and then you've had some very good ones, you shut down the best offense in the ACC-- not shut them down but controlled them. Shut them down the second half. Coming off a game where you give up 600 yards, I just wonder, what do you see-- what works sometimes, and is there one specific thing that isn't working a few other times?
Well, I think you have to go look at the other side of the football. I mean, one thing that is consistent offensively in the two games we've lost is that we're averaging five turnovers a game in the two games that we've lost, which puts the defense a lot of times in very bad situations. So it's not just part of the defense, it's part of the offense turning the football over, and in those games I think we're penalized 10 penalties a game. On both sides of the ball we haven't been very good.

I think there was-- certainly on Saturday night the ball was not thrown over our heads, which happened in the two games that we lost. We did a much better job in our zone coverages, keeping the ball inside and in front of. Florida State made plays but they're going to make plays against everybody, but there was nothing-- a catch and run that got us in those other two games.

But a lot of it, I think, has to go back to the offense turning the football over and putting them in bad situations.

I've asked earlier this season about Bryan Underwood, but he just keeps making huge catches for you. How does he keep doing that?
I don't know. I mean, he keeps getting in positions, because Mike throws to everybody. I mean, Mike-- if there is a favorite guy, it's probably Quintin Payton for him because he's the leading receiver.

But whenever it seems that we need a big play, Bryan has been there to make it, and certainly as you said, Saturday night, getting open there and holding onto the ball even after he was hit late was a great job by him.

Not to mention the fact that it looked like Mike threw it about 100 miles an hour.
No, I don't think he did. I mean, he would have a year ago. He would have thrown it that fast a year ago. But that ball was pretty much under control.

I think Michael did a great job Saturday night. I mean, the difference between a year ago playing Florida State to Saturday night was night and day. Last year he took sacks, didn't get rid of the ball on time. I think he knew that he was much better on time, didn't take sacks, threw the ball away, kept himself and us out of long yardage situations with the exception of one time when he did take a sack.

And then he made three straight 4th down conversions there on that last drive: 4th and 2, 4th and 10 and 4th and goal at the 2- or 3-yard line.

He did a great job and everybody did a great job on offense.

What is it that enables a quarterback to-- it's almost like he's flipped a switch or something. Is it an accumulation of just experience and learning that enables him to just make those kinds of adjustments?
Well, I think experience has a lot to do with it and having played and played in games. Second time around playing a Florida State team that certainly has great defensive ends on the rush. They get a good push, they keep rotating four, six guys in the middle of the defense at the same time.

So it was a learning experience. He went back and studied the tapes from last year. One thing that he and Coach Bible, point of emphasis this week going into the game is you can't hold the ball forever. You've got to get the back foot down, you've got to make a decision, you have to throw it.

As the game progressed, it started-- everything that he was coached to do was working, so he continued to do it.

I was just wondering, kind of the emotional ups and downs your guys have faced the last two weeks with the loss to Miami and then going into a win as emotional as the Florida State, are you kind of worried about the toll that will take on them for the rest of the season, the kind of roller coaster?
I would be if we had to play this weekend, but thank goodness we don't. Hopefully we can get off that and be solid the rest of the way. Certainly you would like to think that this win will give us a lot of confidence, but we've got six conference games left. Each game we treat as we're playing for the conference championship. We've put ourselves back into the race by beating Florida State.

I think that we can be, with our senior leadership, hopefully not be so up and down.

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