Wednesday, September 24, 2008

O'Brien's words burn South Florida coordinator

N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien apparently touched a nerve at South Florida with comments he made last week about the Bulls’ defense.

After practice on Sept. 18, O’Brien was asked if any N.C. State staffers had visited South Florida during their offseason quest to study ways to stop the spread offense.

South Florida’s staff had caught the attention of some defensive assistants after the Bulls’ success in 2006 and 2007 against West Virginia’s spread option attack under Rich Rodriguez.
O’Brien mentioned South Florida’s blowout loss to Oregon (56-21) in last year’s Sun Bowl. He said Oregon ran the spread, so if South Florida’s coaches were the gurus, N.C. State was better off looking elsewhere for advice.

The St. Petersburg Times published South Florida defensive coordinator Wally Burnham’s reply Wednesday.

"He's right. We're not gurus," Burnham said. "On the other hand, we try to handle things professionally and not say anything … with class, not say anything about anyone else's coaching staff. He can say what he wants to. The other thing, I forget what bowl game they were in. That's all I've got to say."

During O’Brien’s weekly news conference earlier this week, he was more careful to praise the Bulls’ offense and defense.

He called South Florida quarterback Matt Grothe the most versatile quarterback in the country.
“He’s done it all,” O’Brien said. “The defense is even better.”

Ironically, N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson’s shoulder injury may prevent South Florida from showing how it defends the spread option. Harrison Beck, who’s scheduled to start Saturday, is more of a pocket passer than Wilson.

– Ken Tysiac