O'Brien, Pack Gear up for Maryland
Nov. 21, 2011
Raleigh, N.C. - Coach Tom O'Brien met with the local media for his weekly press conference. Among the topics, the Pack's win over Clemson, the improved defensive play, and the importance of the Maryland game.
Opening statement: I'd like to thank everyone who participated in Toys for Tots last Saturday, we raised over 3,000 toys, which was a record. With the cash contributions and Coca-Cola and Harris Teeter's, we now have over 39,000 dollars in cash. It was a great day for Toys for Tots, and a great day for the Wolfpack Nation. We thank the Clemson people, coach Sweeney gave me a check before the game, I kind of looked at it and it was a pretty sizeable check so I'm real happy with that. We thank the Clemson people for helping us out.
On the win over Clemson: We played very well. That's the best we've played. They decided that they were going to win the football game, that they weren't going to lose. We've been getting to a point on defense where we've been getting better and better, once we started getting healthy and changed things around from the Central Michigan game on. Offense had to grow up, I think one of the things we talked about- the quarterback never saw speed like he saw at Florida State. It takes something to get used to that kind of speed. He saw it again at North Carolina. He saw a whole different defense at B.C., but the thing that he did, he was back on his heels. It's all part of quarterback evolution, you have to get off your heels and get back up on your toes. We did a better job protecting him, as we talked about last week. He was up on his toes, and when he's like that he can throw the football. We went through that second quarter to the third quarter where we scored on six straight possessions. We didn't miss. Defense gave us the ball, and when you get the ball in the positions we did we ended up with a couple touchdowns, which was really important. Field goals are good, but you're going to have to score some touchdowns, which we did. To score six straight times against that football team was a pretty good effort, offensively. And then we kicked the ball. Those young kids keep getting better and better- I think Nic has made four or five in a row now.
On not having a letdown this week: That's what we'll be working on all week. Hopefully, as I said to them, very seldom in life do you get a second chance, but they've earned a second chance. They've given themselves a second chance. If they're going to go touch the hot stove and burn themselves again, that's their deal. We're in a playoff right now. You either win or you go home, so they have to decide where they want to go.
On why the Maryland series has been tough: I think there are always teams in a conference that give other teams problems. There are instances where, for whatever reason, whether theyre matchups, an attitude, whatever it is, I think you can find some teams that always play better against another team year in and year out. I don't know if it has any bearing on this game, it's something we're not going to think about. I'll tell the team about it, but they have to win this for a lot of reasons other than we haven't beaten Maryland in certain situations.
On the team's mindset heading into Maryland: One of the things I said to the team in yesterday's meeting was, the trap that they fell into at B.C. was that the B.C. team that they watched on tape wasn't the team that they played, and they can't let that happen this week. Just because Maryland has lost six or seven in a row, that doesn't mean that that team there is going to be the one they play Saturday. They have nothing to lose, they can come in here and do whatever the heck they want. We have to play that way, we have to look at the tape and play very cautious, and once again, are you going to stick your hand in the oven or not.
On Maryland's strengths: You look on defense, and No. 72 is really the kind of guy that I would like to coach. He reminds me of a kid we had at B.C., just a real tough hard-nosed guy that can play the game. I think at the next level, the kid from over here at Southeast Raleigh is the best linebacker, and Franklin at safety is their leading tackle, he's fifth in the league in tackles. Certainly offensively, Meggett is averaging over five yards a carry, he's been a tough guy for us to play against. And then the quarterback is their second leading rusher, and he's averaging eight yards a carry. He's a dynamic guy, he almost single-handedly beat Clemson himself a couple weeks ago.
On only having to scout one quarterback: When you're trying to figure out two different offenses and two different players, you can get focused in on what he does, try to study everything he does, and try to take away some of the things he does. Number one that would be containing him and keeping him in the pocket if we're able to do it, because he can get out, and he causes all kinds of difficulty once he gets outside.
On why the team has played well at home: Because we have great fans. They are part of the refuse to lose- that atmosphere was as good as it gets. And we have to-they have to-repeat that. I know it's after Thanksgiving, they can all go shopping Friday and show up at 12:30 on Saturday with all their new stuff on or whatever. Let's get ready to go, we need them.
On Art Norman's play: A couple weeks ago he had a burner. It wasn't as effective at B.C., but certainly he feels better about himself now. Between he and Cato-Bishop, we've got one guy now. They ended up with four and a half sacks in that position last week. He only played 29 plays, as a redshirt freshman at his size, sometimes he's more effective playing that number of plays. I think the defense is using those two kids pretty wisely, and if they continue to be like that then we've got a pretty good player at that position. He made two big plays for us Saturday, certainly.
How the defense has improved: Like I said, at Central Michigan when we started to get some guys back and changed some positions around to try and get some depth and then certainly getting Sweezy and Teal back on the inside and playing McGill through that time when those guys were out so he could get some experience has helped us get some guys in there that are good rotators now for us at the inside.
On Terrell Manning's play: I think his performance lately, sure. He missed those two games and came back and wasn't really right when he came back, but felt he had to come back to help us in that situation against Central Michigan. As I said before, I think that's when the defense started getting better because guys were healthy and playing in the same position all the time.
Excitement of making a bowl: I think it's great for the kids, they had such a great time going to the bowl last year. When you go to bowls and have a good time, you want to go back. Those experiences have a tangible goal for them to try to obtain, certainly it's a great thing for us right now to be playing for.
On the teams plans for Thanksgiving: We have a normal Tuesday routine. Wednesday we'll practice about noon because you never know what the weather will be like. Then we go Thursday afternoon around 3 o'clock and we'll be done by 5, and then we take them to the Angus Barn for dinner, which they enjoy. They do a great job out there, and then Friday is a normal Friday. Just the team- wives can go, no girlfriends.