Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Q&A: N.C. State's Mike Archer

Q&A with N.C. State defensive coordinator Mike Archer:

Q: Aside from getting Nate Irving back, what has been the difference with the defense the last two weeks?

A: Getting Irving and Alan-Michael Cash back has made a big difference. They’ve played a lot and they’re both leaders. When those two guys were hurt, we didn’t have a lot of people in the huddle that when things were getting kind of hairy, would say, “Hey guys, let’s start playing.” Those guys do that. They do it in practice, and I think the biggest thing we missed was their leadership.

Q: How much of a concern is (North Carolina wide receiver) Hakeem Nicks to your defense?

A: I’ve looked at all 10 games, and I think he has 55 catches officially. They’ve thrown 92 passes to him. That includes penalties and everything else. Obviously that’s a guy we have to be very well aware of. It hurts not having (Brandon) Tate, because when Tate was there (for the Tar Heels), it was very difficult to say we’re going to double Nicks when you had Brandon Tate on the other side. They still have good receivers. Foster and (Cooter Arnold) are both still good players. But obviously (Cameron) Sexton and (T.J.) Yates, and whoever the quarterback is, they know who they want to throw it to. They want to throw it to Nicks. He’s very strong. He has very strong hands. When you press him, he can push and he’s strong enough to get off press coverage. The guy is very talented, and the thing that’s most impressive is, after he catches the ball, what he does with it. He can take it to the house.

Q: Whichever quarterback starts for North Carolina, does it make a difference in what they do?

A: No. We played against T.J. last year. We know he’s a good football player. Their offense is their offense. It’s what they believe in. I’m sure there will be something subtle that they did with Cameron that they thought he could do better. Maybe they ran more bootlegs to get him on the edge. I don’t know. But they’re going to run their offense because they believe in it. They’re a good football team. And good football teams, they do what they do because they believe in it, and they put the next guy into it.

- Ken Tysiac