O'Brien: "We Have To Regroup"

NC State head coach Tom O'Brien fielded questions from the media on his weekly teleconference.

Opening Statement:
Certainly we have to regroup after a really tough loss for us last Saturday. Playing a Virginia team, a little bit of a role reversal than we were a year ago. To think at that point we're 3-3, really banged up and beat up, had an open week before we went to Charlottesville, come away with a victory.

Virginia is a similar situation. Have an open week, get themselves healed, come down here. We're going to have to play great here on Saturday in order to have a chance to win this football game.

With that, I'd be happy to take any questions.

Tom, obviously Virginia has been dogged by turnovers this year. Seems like you've run the gamut with turnovers. What are the keys to not turning it over?
Well, certainly I think quarterbacks throw interceptions. Sometimes you can't really get on a quarterback, if he's making good throws, the ball just happens to be interceptions. He's making bad decisions, that's one thing. You can't discourage a kid from trying to throw the football.

Fumbles are a matter of concentration work and personal pride. It's something we spend a lot of time practicing, making sure we don't fumble the football. I think that's something that can be corrected, fumbling the football. Interceptions, sometimes stuff happens.

You forced 16 turnovers. Virginia has forced four. Historically have your teams been good at forcing turnovers?
As we started to build this program the first couple years, we certainly did. But I think the last couple years since Jon Tenuta has been here, I think he's helped a lot in creating havoc.

I think my first, second, third year, we didn't intercept any passes. We have to learn to play our coverages, learn to do what we're coaching. We've been able to do that. Now we are intercepting the ball, knocking it out.

Helps to have (David) Amerson?
Helps to have guys up front that can rush to help those boys in the back.

Are you happy or unhappy with the number of dropped passes you've had this year?
Certainly you can't be happy with dropped passes. Once again, I think that's a matter of concentration. We had 10 on Saturday. We have a quarterback that threw for 460 yards. If you catch some of those passes, some of those are game-changing passes. He might have had 600 yards passing the ball.

I've always talked to the quarterbacks about it, the law of averages is going to play out. They're going to make 10 great catches in the next four games. They owe us those. They have to find a way to make 10 great catches and get us back to even.

When a team doesn't have a lot of seniors, is younger, is it usually the case maturity issues are going to come with that team?
Yeah, I mean, I think that's a big problem. The more seniors you have, I only got four games to play, it picks up the whole football team. Certainly it picks up the whole team when this is my last year, there's leadership, they're pushing the younger guys to play.

Some younger guys say, I got one or two more years to play. There isn't a sense of urgency when you don't have a senior football team, I think.

What are the pitfalls of playing a team like Virginia that's lost six in a row, not having the kind of year they would like to have, getting your guys ready for a team like that?
Well, I drew the analogy when we started this conversation. We've talked a lot about that, tried to put ourselves in their position because we were in it last year, how they're preparing it. One thing we always concentrate on, try to push, is that we have to outwork the team we're going to play on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. I don't know how they're working, but we have to make sure we're outworking them, taking care of ourselves.

We still have a lot to play for. This thing hasn't been decided yet. We lost our hammer with the loss at Carolina on Saturday. There's still a chance. Florida State needed help for somebody to beat us. We need help for somebody to beat Florida State, we're right back in the thick of things.

We have a lot to play for and can't afford a mis-step anywhere along the way.

What do you see about Virginia that potentially they could jump up and bite you?
They have a great tailback. They have two of them in (Perry) Jones and (Kevin) Parks. They're playing with basically (Phillip) Sims as a first-year quarterback. The open week can do wonders for a quarterback, to go back, research what he's done. He's got some things in their offense they can correct. It gives chances to the quarterback coach and their offensive staff to emphasize and to make him successful.

Still have huge guys up front. Three of their starters are back from last year, functional offensive line.

Defensively they're the third-best defense in the conference. We already played Florida State and Maryland two of the last three games we played. So they're third best in the conference statistically on defense. Coach (Jim) Reid does a great job of putting them in position to be successful.

They're a good football team that's had some misfortune. Hopefully we can make sure we take care of ourselves and win the football game on Saturday.

David (Amerson) gets a lot of credit at corner. Can you talk about C.J. Wilson?
C.J. had to sit out the first four games of the year, then played him in the Miami game a little bit. Didn't have the type of game he wanted to have or we wanted to have.

He kind of backed up Juston Burris, especially in our substitution defense. Juston dinged himself up a little bit Saturday. C.J. got in, had a chance to play, intercepted the ball in the end zone, stripped the ball from the receiver downfield, had a chance to make a third play.

Ball bounced off his fingertips. If he catches that one, it's a pick-six, there's nobody, he's running 35 yards for a touchdown.

Like a lot of our kids, we preach to them, when you get your opportunity, you have to make the most of it. He's been a great team guy, working hard in practice. Got his opportunity on Saturday, made the most of it.

Does the other corner position get picked on?
I don't know if people pick on people one way or another. I'm sure they may go in, In this pass, we're going to go here or there. Most people are progression passes, go one, two, three, dial up whatever pass they think.

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