Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pack's O'Brien gives unusual answer

N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien was asked Wednesday to predict whether Saturday's game at Florida State will be high-scoring.

Coaches almost always politely decline to answer such a question.

They'll cite games in the past where Peyton Manning, Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky unexpectedly were shut down. To predict a high-scoring game is to admit that your defense is vulnerable.

But at this point, that's probably something O'Brien figures everybody already knows about N.C. State. The Wolfpack has lost three straight ACC games, giving up a total of 820 passing yards over two games against Wake Forest and Duke before Boston College piled up 293 rushing yards heading into last week's open date.

Florida State, meanwhile, leads the ACC in total offense.

"You look at the way they're playing offense, it seems to indicate we're going to have to score some points to win the football game," O'Brien said during the ACC coaches' teleconference.

N.C. State will start its seventh different group of defensive backs in eight games against quarterback Christian Ponder, who's the ACC's total offense leader.

"All indications to the way they've played offense and the points they've scored, you look at our secondary, as decimated as we are and all the young players that we're playing, Ponder is probably salivating down there at the opportunity to play against us," O'Brien said.

It was true enough.

But it was unusual to hear a coach say it. Maybe he's trying to motivate his players.

Maybe it's just impossible to deny.

Ken Tysiac