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April 17, 2012

Tom O'Brien counting on experienced players



NC State is wrapping up its spring practices. The Pack will have work out in pads for the last time Thursday, and then hold an open practice Friday for the media and former players who will return for the alumni weekend. Then Saturday will be the Kay Yow Spring Game at Carter-Finley Stadium at 3:30 p.m.

NC State head coach Tom O'Brien met with the media following Tuesday morning's practice. Here is a transcript of that Q&A session.

How valuable was that experience for the defensive backs like Brandan Bishop and Earl Wolff to be thrown into the fire for where they are at now?

"Well you don't get any better until you play. They weren't coached when they had to play as young guys. They were just thrown into the fire. They've done a great job. Certainly the experience is coming through.

"We're still shuffling guys around back there as we are in a lot of positions trying to find the right combinations for a lot of things, but you can tell their experience and their confidence levels. When you have experience you have a much more confident player."

How much does that help the other younger defensive players you have now, the linebackers in particular?

"It's a two-edge sword. It helps them in the passing game because they are behind them in the right spot, and if the guys in front get a push then in the run game it helps you, so they've got to get help from both sides."

How has Sterling Lucas done this spring?

"Like we've said before, he's like a coach on the field. He knows the defense. He was a de facto coach last year so he understands things, sees things quickly than a lot of those young kids do. So his experience helps get those young kids lined up and gets the guys in front of us going the right way and helps gets us in the right coverage when we have to change."

He spent last year in the coach's box during games, is that something you do a lot with the injured guys to keep them involved?

"No, generally we don't, but Coach [Jon] Tenuta wanted him up there. He had him watching certain things for him, and knew that with him sitting out that it would be an invaluable experience for him coming into this year."

How are the tight ends doing?

"I think we've had a lot of challenge at tight end. Nobody owns the jersey, everybody is fighting for a job. [Anthony] Talbert has done a great job. [Mario] Carter's got the most experience. [Asa] Watson is coming back from his redshirt year, and certainly he has a different dimension.

"And Benson Browne, he's coming out of a redshirt year. He has a lot of talent. He's learning what it's like to play at this level now. It's the first time we've had four scholarship guys at this point that had been redshirted and you're not afraid to throw in the football games."

More on tight ends

"We've had, and we went to Boston College we had a stretch of great tight ends so we've kind of carried it over from there. Certainly these kids have done a great job.

"It's kind of different, George [Bryan] isn't out here for the first time in four years or whatever, but those young kids, they've taken to it. They're fighting hard, and as I've said about a lot of different positions, there's guys fighting for playing time right now. That's a good thing."

How has Brandon Pittman and Rickey Dowdy progressed in the last couple of weeks?

"At times they take one step forward and two steps back. They see something new and they blow a gasket, but it's all part of learning. There's a lot thrown out here right now. We're at a point that there's a lot of different things going on each and every day.

"The guys who we talked about with experience have an idea cause they have something to fall back on. Those guys that have nothing to fall back on have no idea sometimes they short-circuit. The key is, and what we look for, is if he happens again and that they don't make the same mistake twice, that they learn from it, move on and get better."


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