O'Brien Talks Wake Forest

N.C. State head coach Tom O'Brien discussed his football team during his weekly teleconference. O'Brien discusses this week's game against Wake Forest, tailback Curtis Underwood, and much more.

Opening Statement:
Well, certainly a big early season game, I think, for both football teams.

It's tough to play a conference game this early in the year, and we have to go on the road and play a very dangerous Wake Forest team. They've got eight starters back on defense. Those kids played their hearts out the other night, and then certainly offense, to become a big play offense with Price pushing the ball down the field.

A lot of things that we have to be concerned with as we head to Winston-Salem here on Saturday.

As a coach, how gratifying is it to see a kid like Curtis Underwood have some adversity, stick with it, and then when he gets his opportunity, really take advantage of it like he did Saturday?
Well, it was certainly good for us, and certainly happy for Curtis. We always preach that when you get your opportunity, you'd better step up and do something with it. You know, it was in a situation -- caught in a situation last year that, as always in this game, changed rather quickly with Mustafa going down in spring practice. He asked if he could come back and wanted to be part of the team, and we said certainly, come on back.

Hopefully he can keep it up for us. We're going to need him.

Do you have any personnel or injury updates for us?
Not until Thursday after practice.

And what do you remember about the '09 game down there at Wake Forest, 30-24, fairly close game?
It was kind of a shootout, went back and forth a lot. They made a play at the end. Skinner had a great game against us. At the end, our last shot, we ended up throwing an interception in the end zone when we had a shot. But it was a back and forth game, and it's kind of similar to what we're seeing nowadays. The game isn't going to be over until the last horn blows.

Have you been able to -- you were only responsible for two of those losses, but have you been able to pinpoint some of the reasons why you guys have struggled down there?
Well, generally, I mean, and this is true all the time, the team that plays the best wins, so certainly they played the best the two times that we were down there, and they beat us when we were there, and I assume that's probably the case all the time.

What were you most pleased with in week one, and what are you looking most to improve heading into week two?
Well, the play of the defense. When you turn the ball over seven times, that's something -- the second time it's happened in school history, and it's a bunch of those young guys that are now -- were true freshmen are now juniors and sophomores. We still only have two seniors or three seniors playing on defense. For them to turn the ball over seven times and score on defense was good, scoring on special teams was good.

I think the slow start on offense, we as coaches have to take a little bit of responsibility there, and once we got together at halftime and explained to the kids what was being done, played much better in the second half.

I just wanted to get your theory on these short turnaround games. You guys have one coming up in a few weeks. Do you like that? Do you like getting knocked off your routine, and is the TV exposure you get from it worth the cost to your team in preparation?
I've never been a fan of the short week. I think it puts too much stress on your team, especially if you have to travel before the game and then travel to the game to play that night.

But on the flipside, the exposure definitely is worth it. Thursday night is still a big night in college football. It's been a great night here in Raleigh. Our fans are tremendous, they show up, a lot of enthusiasm, and I think it puts our program and our university in a good light when we're able to play at home here in Raleigh on a Thursday night.

After watching the tape, how do you assess Mike Glennon's performance Saturday?
Well, for a first-time starter -- he hadn't started in four years. If you put a checklist together what you expect quarterbacks to do, the first thing you want to see is -- I mean, you don't want to get him hit, but if he gets hit, is he going to get back up and be able to play the game and not be affected?

Well, unfortunately we got him hit. We got him clobbered, he got back up and played. You want to see him be able to move in the pocket, buy some time. He was able to do that. You want to see him if nothing is there make a good choice, which he did; he pulled the ball down, took off, ran for a 1st down, a little quicker than people thought he was.

You go back and you look at his mechanics. You go back and look at his reads. Is he throwing to the right person? Is he throwing on time? I think all those things he checked off. And doing it in the first game, the exciting thing is after the game Dana (Bible) told me that he was all smiles.

He hadn't played a full game since the state championship in high school, so he was all excited and knew that there were some things that he was going to have to do better and learn from, but he's got a great attitude, he's got a great amount of talent and will continue to get better as we go along.

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