Monday, September 21, 2009

Q&A with Tom O'Brien

Excerpts from N.C. State football coach Tom O'Brien's Monday news conference previewing Saturday's game against Pittsburgh:

Q: Can you talk about Pittsburgh in terms of their running back? They’ve had a really good running game with LeSean McCoy the past couple of years, and it looks as though they’re continuing doing what they’ve done now with a different back.
A: Number 28, (Dion) Lewis is actually a true freshman. I guess he went to school in January so he went through spring practice. He’s quick. He’s small. He hides behind them. They are top three in rushing offense and rushing defense in their conference. And they actually are top three in scoring offense and scoring defense in their conference. So they do a great job of running the ball and stopping the run. The thing that’s more worrisome for us is they’re No. 1 in not giving up sacks and No. 1 in sacking people in their conference, so they play very solid on defense and they’re committed to running the football. They’re big, physical guys up front. They really knock you back off the line of scrimmage and then do a great job with their play-action passes from there.

Q: Since the middle of last season, you guys have done a nice job stopping the run. Why do you think that’s been?
A: Well, we haven’t seen an offensive line like this one (Pittsburgh’s). These guys, they’ve got pro prospects up there. They’ve got guys that have played three and four years. And I think four of the guys started. They’ve got a ton of experience and they’re committed to running. A lot of the teams, you talk about in the past, haven’t been as committed to the run as this Pittsburgh has.

Q: Can you talk about the development of your linebackers and how they’ve come along the last couple games?
A: Ray Michel has done an excellent job in the middle. He’s built upon his experience and knowledge, what he’s doing. Audie Cole and Dwayne Maddox are still in development stages. Dwayne’s played some last year. I think that’s helped him. Audie plays really fast when he knows where he’s going. Sometimes when he’s not sure, he’s kind of hesitant. That’s just going to come with time and experience. He made a couple really nice plays in the open field last week, which is what he has to do to play tht position for us. They’re two young guys that are learning on the run and working hard to get better.

Q: How has Brandan Bishop looked so far at safety?
A: He looks like a freshman, but he has ability. He’s another one of those guys, he’s a smart kid. He’s football smart and school smart and he doesn’t make mistakes. And that’s the most important thing right now. He gets lined up and gets in the right spot, and he seems to tackle well, and that’s what we’re trying to get out of that position.

Q: How has (punter Jeff) Ruiz performed so far?
A: I don’t think he kicked the ball really well Saturday night. But I think the previous two games he was fine. He just didn’t seem to hit it as good Saturday night. But he works hard at it and he certainly can be a weapon for us. He has a good enough leg.

Ken Tysiac