Press Conference: Tom O'Brien

North Carolina State football coach Tom O’Brien talks with the news media in advance of his team’s game Saturday with Virginia Tech.

On Josh Czajkowski

“That’s Jerry Petercuskie’s specialty. He talks with them—they have their own meetings. They have their own séances, so he can talk to them and figure it out. I would probably exacerbate the problem if I got anywhere near him. He’s been so good for us. Looking at it and talking to Jerry as we do, when we grade out, he was fast. Josh said to him after the first one that he was too fast. A kicker is like anything else—you’ve got to get him back into the rhythm and back into the groove because he’s certainly got enough leg. He’s shown that 31 yard field goals should be chip shots for him.”

On the similarities between preparing for Tyrod Taylor and Russell Wilson

“The defense only plays against Russell twice during the week, but they had all preseason. I think the thing you look back to is the second half of the Central Florida game—that’s the type of quarterback Taylor is, but he’s better. For three weeks, we’ve seen quarterbacks of a similar ilk. They’re certainly not as good as Taylor is, but at least we’ve coached and tried to understand rush line and containment—all those things you have to do to be successful against someone like Tyrod Taylor.”

On the impact of the aggressiveness of the defensive coaching staff on the defense

“We play faster when we’re more aggressive, and I think that’s helped us. I think certainly the third down package we’ve put together in spring practice and into preseason camp has helped a lot. First of all, getting people in third down and getting off the field. Sometimes, you don’t always get a tackle for a loss or a sack , but you get a hurry and you get your quarterback thinking, so it all ties in. We’ve been much better doing those things.”

On Georgia Tech’s comeback and NC State’s response

“The first concern is you worry about your team and what their mental outlook is and certainly there was no panic whatsoever. This team has been very resilient in a lot of situations. They don’t get too high, they don’t get too low, they just play the game of football and that’s what’s good about them right now. We never expected to be up 17 points on Georgia Tech. They came out and responded.”

On the punter situation

“One of the things Leffler does, is he gets the ball away quick. Sometimes, it isn’t pretty, but that’s one thing you want to make sure you do is get the ball away against Virginia Tech. It’s an area of concern certainly, but in my experience, you can over coach stuff too. You’ve just got to stay in what you do and play the game. There’s emphases you have to make, but you can’t go overboard and get everybody too tight to execute what they have to do on special teams.”

On Andy Leffler

“Jerry handles all the specialists. We needed to get somebody here as a backup punter, so we were looking hard and he settled on Andy as the guy that he wanted to come in. He came in to be a backup, but now he has the opportunity to be a starter.”

On Duran Christophe

“He’s a big, powerful body, and he absorbs some of the blitzes they came with, and did not get knocked back at all. He’s a young kid that’s just learning the game. He certainly has ability. We’ve liked him from the time he got here because he is a physical type of player—a strong player. I think he gained a lot of confidence on Saturday playing.”

On Mustafa Greene

“That guy, whoever it was going to be, was going to get the opportunity to run the ball. He was the guy who stood out during preseason camp of making runs that you’ve seen him make in the last couple of weeks. We’re happy for him and happy for our offense that we have a back that’s capable of doing that sort of thing. Certainly, he’s the right type of kid—he’s very humble, he works really hard, he studies what he’s doing. Hopefully, he can’t get anything but better.”

On Virginia Tech’s defense

“This is a heck of a football team coming in. They are about five plays away from being a top five team in the country. They’re probably a product of their own success in that they had to come back Monday night after a game and had to play a James Madison team, and maybe one loss cost them two, but they’re still a great football team. I don’t see where anybody should be down. They have tremendous speed all over the field on defense. They can cover you, they’re going to challenge you. Bud Foster doesn’t change much one way or another, and being there the 20 plus years they have been there, they just keep plugging guys in, and they get better guys each year because of their success. This is a capable could be top ten football team we’re playing on Saturday. They’re by far the best team we’ve played this year. It’s not even close.”

On his personal outlook on the 4-0 start

“I look at each week of the season, and that’s the only thing I’ve ever been able to control coaching. It doesn’t matter if I’m sitting here 4-0 or 0-4. The only thing I can control is the guys I’ve got this week and how to best put them in a position to win against Virginia Tech. I’ve always approached every game of every season I’ve ever coached as a head football coach that way, and that’s the only chance I have in coaching, I think, to win a football game. The good news is, on the first of October, we still have the same team basically we started September with, which we haven’t had in the past. So, knock on wood, if we stay healthy and keep going, we might win a few more football games. You can’t worry about this game or that game. All you have to do is take whatever guys we’ve got, put them in position to win the game Saturday, and hope we can find a way to get it done.”

On the effect of the 4-0 start on the players

“It gives them a little bit of confidence because they’ve been successful and they have been doing things the right way, the way we want them to do it, and there’s some validation there. We’ve done it this way, and if you’re going to have a chance to succeed, you’re going to have to continue to do it this way. The ranking is good, because it’s a recognition for what they’ve done the last month. It really has nothing to do with the game on Saturday. The players should be happy because somebody is taking note of the hard work they’ve put in for the last month. Rankings aren’t important until we finish up at the end of the year.”

On Dean Haynes

“Everybody messes up and he’s got to understand that he put the ball on the ground, but he can’t do it again. If he would’ve had a three fumble performance again this week, he might have found his way back to defense, but he didn’t. That’s all part of growing up, and that’s what you want to see in kids—he took the challenge that he had to hold on to the football. ”

On Mustafa Greene

“I think the things he’s doing has to do with his maturity as an individual—the ability to handle all the things that are asked of him. It was pretty obvious talking to our learning resources in the summer start program who the mature kids were and who could handle themselves and be held accountable, and he was one of the guys that worked extremely hard and was totally focused in summer school. We know he is the kind of guy that has the maturity and what it takes to be focused and be able to juggle everything you have to juggle to go to school and play major college football.”

On special teams

“We blocked two punts in a row, and the last time we did that was my first year at East Carolina for a touchdown, so that’s a pretty good feat for those kids on special teams. Once you have success, that breeds success, and they work harder. You can outwork the guy across from you. It’s about personal challenge-you have to outwork the guy across from you in all special teams situations, and that’s a hustle thing. In special teams, it’s as much determination as talent.”

On the defensive line

“I think against that offense, it’s a tough thing because they’re at their feet the whole time. I think they did a good job.”

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