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August 31, 2011

Q&A: Tom O'Brien's Wednesday teleconference

NC State coach Tom O'Brien knows his pass defense will get a stern test from Liberty quarterback Mike Brown and wide receiver Chris Summers in the season opener Saturday at Carter-Finley Stadium.

O'Brien talked about Liberty and the various concerns he has about the Wolfpack during Wednesday's teleconference. Below is a complete of what O'Brien said.

Tom O'Brien's opening statement:

"We're excited about getting the season underway. We're obviously tired of practicing against each other, look forward to the challenge that Liberty brings. They are a pretty explosive offensive team, a lot of experience returning at their skills position. They've been nationally ranked last season. Passing efficiency, top 10 total offense, scoring offense, first down offense, passing offense. Led by a kid that's really a good athlete. Kind of reminds us a lot of the [Jeffrey] Godfrey kid that we played against last year at Central Florida. Mike Brown is the quarterback. All-American receiver [Chris Summers]. All-American kicker [Matt Bevins]. Our defense is going to have to really be ready to take control of this one and contain Mike Brown."

Now that Mike Glennon, it's his turn now, what are your expectations of him? His teammates are saying that guy really appears to be ready. Is that your feeling also?

Well, I think he's shown that through pre-season camp. I think the thing that any quarterback has to do is they have to operate within the framework of the offense. They have to get us headed the right direction. They have to distribute the ball on time to the right receivers in the right spot when we ask that of them in the passing game, then provide leadership in the huddle. I think he will be capable of doing all those things. I think certainly this is his first game as a starter. His upside is tremendous. We expect him to get better each and every week as we go along for the next couple years here. I think a lot of people are excited about watching him play on Saturday."

What are his best physical assets just from the standpoint of what he can do?

"Well, I think he has a great arm. I mean, he has the capability to make any throw that has to be made on the football field. I think he has a very good feel of the pocket. He's able to avoid the rush, buy himself some time when he has to. Any quarterback's best when he can go back and put his back foot down and deliver the ball. He's got a little pocket presence about him. He's got great confidence in his ability. I think that carries over to his teammates."

Coach, what is Rashard Smith's role on your team?

"He's playing wide receiver."

How do you see him fitting in there?

"Well, when you break it down, we're really happy with what we've seen out of [David] Amerson and [C.J.] Wilson on defense. If he's not going to be in the game at corner, we don't play generally just two corners as the game goes along. We played six wide receivers. Going through pre-season camp, knowing he was a two-time Player of the Year in the state of Georgia with the ball in his hands, it was a natural for us to ask him to come over and take a look on offense. I think he's still learning. But he's shown the ability that he does a lot of things natural at that position. We play six wide receivers. Gets him an opportunity and us an opportunity to get another athlete on the field. It seemed like a logical move to make to get him in the lineup and get one of our players on the field."

Were you surprised at all that George Bryan didn't go pro last year? Do you think his growth, especially the last couple years, overcoming a couple of incidents, played a role in him coming back to school and continuing that process in his life?

"He never mentioned to me last year that he was thinking about leaving school. I had no inclination if that was there or not. To my knowledge he was always coming back. I think all kids go through a maturation process. Some are more publicized than others. Certainly the incident I think you're referring to, he was found not to be part of anything to do with that incident himself. I mean, it was guilt by association or being in the room, one way or another. Certainly in today's day and age, people rush to make a lot of decisions without knowing the facts of the situation. Certainly his teammates elected him captain this year. I think it shows their confidence in him, shows the leadership that hopefully he will be able to bring to the offensive side of the football and continues to be an integral part of our pass offense."

He was certainly good enough to have gone. How good is he and is there a player that you've maybe coached before that you compare him to?

"Probably the best one that ended up playing in the NFL for us was a kid named Sean Ryan. He's a little bit like him. Probably a little more accomplished in the passing game. Sean was a little tougher at the line of scrimmage blocking. That's something we're working with George on all the time, and it's something that he needs to learn to do better. It's not that he's not good at it. It's certainly one of the things we want to work with him on, at the point of attack being a little bit stronger and more physical."

We haven't seen Liberty play a whole lot of ACC teams. Were you involved at all in the scheduling of this game?

"No. This was done prior to my coming."

Do you know Coach Rocco at all?

"Yeah, I know him through my time when he played, I was coaching at Virginia, coached against him when he was a player. We've crossed paths a couple of times in coaching circles. He's been on staffs that I've coached against. He's really done a nice job. They won four straight conference titles down there. This is I guess the next step. Reading about them, their whole focus is to get to the playoffs this year. They certainly feel they're capable of doing that. They have good skilled kids and a good scheme. Knowing him they're going to be sound on defense because that's his background. It's a 3-4 situation. It's something that we spent a little extra time preparing for in camp."


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