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November 24, 2010

Wed. practice report: Team focused on Maryland

Tom O'Brien met with the media following the team's practice on Wednesday afternoon. The coach talked about his team's mindset going into this weekend, how focused his squad is and Maryland quarterback Danny O'Brien (no relation).

Are you seeing what you need to see on the eve of the next biggest game of the year?

Yeah, I think the kids have been focused in on what they have to do. I think it's good that campus is empty, they can forget about the last game and move onto the next one. As you can tell, they aren't uptight about anything. Hopefully, we'll have a great game on Saturday.

Do you have any concerns about your team not taking the Terps seriously?

No, all they have to do is put on the tape and look at how well [Maryland] has played this year. They played their way into the same situation [as us], they got knocked out last week and we're still alive. I don't think there's anyway that we'll not respect Maryland, they have a heck of a coaching staff and a lot of good players. We're going to have to play our best game to win.

They are +11 in turnover margin, what do you think is the reason for that?

Well, they haven't turned the ball. They've done a real good job of managing the game and that's because of their good running backs and power running game. Defensively, they come at you from all angles and they do a great job of ballhawking the ball. We've known [Maryland defensive coordinator] Don Brown from our days up in Boston, he was at UMass and always had great defensive teams that forced turnovers and he's continued to bring that [to Maryland].

The finalists for the Butkus Award came out today and Nate Irving is not on that list. Are you surprised?

No because I don't vote.

Any problems with your conscience about sending your defense after a guy named O'Brien?

None at all. Once the game starts, I go back to the old Pete Rose quote from the World Series in 1975 when the Red Sox were upset because I guess Pete was doing a lot of talking. Pete said, "if you want to be my friend, get yourself traded to the Big Red Machine because I don't know what I say between the white lines."

Did you guys look at him at all?

Pete Rose? [Laughs]. We knew about him but we had other interests at that point. What he's done is he's done a good job of taking care of the football, he hasn't made many mistakes. Ralph does a good job of coaching quarterbacks. The whole thing is like our philosophy, you maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses, and I think they've done a great job of doing that. I think he'll get better each and every year, he has a lot of physical talent and has good decision making.

Will your pressure get to him on Saturday? Will he see some things that he's never seen before?

I don't know that but, certainly, that is one thing that you have to do against a guy who likes to throw on a rhythm, like he does. You got to try to get him out of his rhythm, get him off his throws and get him back on his heels.

Is there a different look in your players' eyes going into a game with such big implications?

Yeah, I think they are more focused. I think they understand that they've got an opportunity, they almost lost that opportunity at Clemson, but it was given back to them. There's been a renewed sense of purpose here and they've been focused, they're working hard and hopefully we'll close the deal here on Saturday.


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