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November 8, 2011

Q&A: Mike Archer moving on from last week




Defensive coordinator Mike Archer was obviously pleased with his defense following the Wolfpack's 13-0 win over North Carolina. It was NC State's first shutout of the Tom O'Brien era and the program's first since a 14-0 victory over South Florida in the Meineke Car Care Bowl at the end of the 2005 campaign.

Although Archer was happy with his unit's doughnut at the end of the rivalry game, it's just like the previous week when the longtime coach demanded that his team moved on from a 34-0 loss to Florida State; the defense has to forget about it and focus on this weekend's task at hand, Boston College.

"What we have to do it put that one behind us and we've got to go on the road, which is hard," he said. "We've got to go up there where we've never won and we've got to play better. The [UNC] game means nothing now, that's something we've talked about. We reviewed the game on Sunday and talked about the pluses, the things that we accomplished - we attained every one of our goals on our goal board for the first time since we've been here.

"Then, we talked about the fact that we have to handle prosperity, we haven't done that very well, in my opinion, since we've been here. We didn't do it last year - every time we were ranked, we would lose, so we've got to handle that part of it. That's mental, that's being mature and that's going about your business at practice then going up there and playing better than we did last week."

A full transcript of what Archer had to say is below:

How good was it to see a shutout last weekend?

It doesn't happen very often, obviously, and it's a credit to the players and the coaches. They did a good job of executing the game plan. It's hard to do nowadays with offenses today because people are going to make two drives [during a game]. And they did make two drives, but there was the interception at the beginning of the second half that David [Amerson] made and the fourth down tip that Terrell [Manning] made, those were big because they were in scoring position. The players and the coaches should get the credit because they are the ones that did it.

What did you do so much better than the week before?

I think, number one, we tackle, obviously. We practiced better, in my opinion, which was obvious. And our guys were ready to play, I thought they were ready to play the week before - obviously, they weren't. They went out and executed, we knew going in that we were going to pressure them. We felt like the year before that was good for us. We had to get the screen game cleaned up; they ran the screen on the first third down and we stopped it so they kind of went away from it, which helped. The plan was to pressure them and we executed, I think that was very important.

In terms of tackling, was that one of your defense's better performances?

I would say so. I think we had only nine missed tackles out of 59 plays, the week before I think we had 19 or 20, so that's obvious. If you can tackle, you have a chance. When people spread you out, you have to tackle in space and we didn't tackle in space [against FSU].

Obviously, you want no missed tackles, but what is the number you're looking for?

You would like to stay under 10. It's a realistic goal, but it hasn't happened this year a lot, that probably was our best tackling game.

Did you see all of these interceptions coming at the beginning of the year?

No, you don't know. If you would have asked me before the season if we would have this amount of interceptions, I wouldn't know. The Pittsburgh Steelers have, I think, three interceptions right now, so it comes and goes. Being lucky is part of it, being in the right place is part of it and kids executing and doing what they are supposed to do, taking coaching, is part of it. I think it's a combination of three things: we've been fortunate, we've been lucky and our kids have done a good job of when they get their hands on the ball, catching it and not dropping it.

Coach O'Brien mentioned he thought this was Audie Cole and Terrell Manning's best game of the year, do you agree with that?

I think so, I think part of it was we're getting some guys back healthy up front and that enables them to run. We're keeping people off the linebackers and early in the season, we weren't able to do that. With the shuffling that we had, we didn't know who was practicing day-to-day. The key for linebackers is you have to keep people off of them, if you can keep people off of them, they can run and scrape and do what they are supposed to do - those guys are two pretty good players. Saturday was the first time, I think, that we did a really good job of keeping their linemen off the second level.

How much of a difference does Thomas Teal being back give your defense?

He's a big body and he eats up blocks. For his first time back in seven weeks, he's a very strong young man. [UNC guard] Jonathan Cooper, to me, is a pretty good football player, he's strong and that was a pretty good battle between those two, that's two big, strong guys and [Teal] held his own against a good player.

Was that something that you guys thought you were going to get from him coming into the year?

We knew that he could hold his own at the point and we missed him because he forces double-teams. When you double him, then the linebacker can run free. It's hard to come off [Teal] because if you try to slip off to the backer then he has the chance to make the play. Getting him back was big. Those guys are block-eaters, I call them block-eaters, they are unselfish guys that have to eat up blocks and let the linebackers run. He does that for us.

Does the success you had against Virginia and North Carolina give your team some confidence because they are similar to Boston College offensively?

I think anytime you shut somebody out, it gets you confidence. What we have to do is put that one behind us and we've got to go on the road, which is hard. We've got to go up there where we've never won and we've got to play better. The [UNC] game means nothing now, that's something we've talked about. We reviewed the game on Sunday and talked about the pluses, the things that we accomplished - we attained every one of our goals on our goal board for the first time since we've been here. Then, we talked about the fact that we have to handle prosperity, we haven't done that very well in my opinion since we've been here. We didn't do it last year - every time we were ranked, we would lose, so we've got to handle that part of it. That's mental, that's being mature and that's going about your business at practice then going up there and playing better than we did last week.

How would you grade Dwayne Maddox starting in place of D.J. Green?

It was actually his second start, he started at Virginia. Dwayne did some good things and then we put Dontae Johnson in there in some situations when they went to their spread stuff because we felt it gave us a better match-up on the speed. Dwayne did a good job, he's an experienced player, he's played a lot of football for us so when you tell him something, you hope that he goes out and executes it, which he did.

What have you seen from this Boston College offense?

Well, they're going to run the football. The tailback, No. 28, [Rolandan] Finch, played so well against Maryland and had over 260 yards. They want to run the ball, they're going to run the ball. The Florida State game got out of hand so fast, it was 28-0, that they couldn't really run the ball - but they still did. They're physical up front, they're big and huge, typical Boston College linemen. They're physically going to try to pound you and play-action pass, try to suck you up into the line of scrimmage and throw it over your head. They really haven't changed, it's similar to what we faced last year.


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