Tuesday, July 27, 2010

O'Brien talks Irving, Wilson, Bible, more

N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien spoke with the media for 54 minutes Monday at the ACC media kickoff in Greensboro.

O'Brien discussed linebacker Nate Irving's return to the team after missing last season with injuries suffered in a car crash; quarterback Russell Wilson's impending return after playing minor league baseball; the return of offensive coordinator Dana Bible from a battle with leukemia, and other topics.

Here are some of the highlights:

- Although O'Brien isn't sure Irving has regained 100 percent of his explosiveness, the coach said Irving was "1,000 percent" better after spring practice than running back Toney Baker was at the same time a year ago while coming back from a knee injury.

O'Brien expects Irving to make a huge difference on defense.

"The thing that Nate does, Nate finishes plays," he said. "He always has been a finisher. A lot of guys can read things, and a lot of guys get there, and they like to inspect the body once they get there. That's not Nate. He goes and makes the play."

- Although Wilson hasn't played much football since November because he has been preoccupied with baseball, O'Brien expects him to be prepared when training camp starts.

Wilson also lost his father, Harrison Wilson, this summer after a long illness.

"Certainly his dad wished that he’d be an NFL football player and a major league baseball player," O'Brien said. "I believe he's coming back this year to try to solve the issue of, 'Can he be an NFL player?' He's already got his opportunity to be a major league baseball player. I think that keeps him focused and keeps him driven."

O'Brien also said it's backup Mike Glennon's job to push Wilson for the starting position.
That's his job, is to try to win the job from Russell Wilson," O'Brien said. "That way we'll have great competition. We'll have two guys fighting for a job, and we're going to have a heck of a quarterback come Sept. 4."

- O'Brien expects offensive coordinator Dana Bible to be able to call plays from the press box after recovering from treatment for leukemia.

Nonetheless, O'Brien has put himself in position to call plays as he did in a winning effort against North Carolina at the end of last season, just in case Bible doesn't feel up to the task.

O'Brien also is asking some of the other assistants to share game planning and practice planning responsibilities to take some of the load off Bible as he returns full time.

"He's got to understand that there are going to be times that he's going to feel good and be able to do things out there," O'Brien said. "And there are going to be times when he can't."

- O'Brien said R.J. Mattes, who started as a redshirt freshman last season on the offensive line, is slated to return to practice in September or October after tearing a knee ligament last year at Florida State.

The coach is eager for Mattes to return.

"He's a football player," O'Brien said. "He likes the game. He's a tough kid. He plays with an attitude like you would like to have on the offensive line. Those are all things that adding that, mental toughness is one of the hardest things to get in a football team, but he's one of those guys that is mentally tough."

- O'Brien said new athletic director Debbie Yow has told the football staff that she looks forward to having a long-term relationship with them and to winning an ACC title.

"She said, 'Tell me what I have to do to help you win and let's get this thing going," O'Brien said.

He said the only thing N.C. State needs from the administration is an indoor facility where the team can practice in inclement weather.

"The rest we have to do," he said. "But certainly being healthy would go a long way toward helping us all do what we have to get done."

Ken Tysiac