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September 27, 2012

Q&A: Tom O'Brien talks Miami preparations, recruiting



NC State coach Tom O'Brien was asked about a number of subjects after practice on Thursday, including recruiting, the upcoming opponent and injury report philosophies.

A full transcript of what the coach had to say is below:

How excited are you to go to Florida and play Miami?

It's our first ACC game, so we have to be ready to play a great football game. They've been hot lately, they're playing with a lot of confidence, certainly after the win at Georgia Tech. We'll go see what we can go get accomplished here on Saturday.

In recruiting, do you recruit where you know?

Obviously, you start in your home state and work from there. I think it helps where you have established relationships, and that's one thing about continuity - you establish your relationships and people that you can trust. Recruiting has changed so much today because you aren't allowed out as much, and it's tough to do a lot of the evaluations you used to be able to do 15-20 years ago. A lot of [combating] that is establishing trust and relationships with high school coaches.

Has recruiting the state of Florida changed, with FIU, Central Florida and South Florida now?

There's always been a lot of schools there, and the more that they get, the more they have kids that maybe don't want to leave the state Florida. With their population and the amount of players there, there is going to be enough there that they will leave the state and, if they're good enough, we'll certainly go try to recruit them to State.

What is your philosophy on trying to get in there and get some guys out of Florida?

When we got here, there was a lot of kids from Florida, and we never really stopped recruiting the state. We made a more concerted effort to get into Georgia because we thought it was closer, had as many good athletes and we had an ability to get kids from Georgia - especially when Andy McCollum [former linebackers coach, now at Georgia Tech] got on the staff, with his relationships with people there. We've been able to continue those relationships. Not that we ever diminished our interest in Florida, it's just that we spent more time in Georgia earlier. This year, we've had more success going to Florida.

What's been the key to your success on third down recently?

I think the whole thing on third down is to confuse quarterbacks. I think both [defensive coordinator] Mike Archer and [linebackers coach] Jon Tenuta do a good job of creating confusion, not only with confusion, but with blitz schemes and everything else going on up front - confusing the linemen up front and the backs in their protection. That's always the key, you don't show the same thing twice, you use multiple looks, multiple coverages, multiple blitzes to try to keep them off balance.

What have you seen out of the Miami offensive line so far on film?

They're big, powerful guys. They get in the way and those backs kind of hit creases - once they hit a crease, then they take off. [Mike] James is a powerful guy, good lower body and tough to tackle. [Duke] Johnson can fly, so if he gets to the open field, you're going to have a lot of problems. We're going to have to keep them surrounded.

Any injury updates?

No update.

Is running back Mustafa Greene back?

No update on Moose.

Will he be traveling to Miami?

No update.

Is it accurate that you were one of the people that suggested or came up with the policy of reporting injuries in the ACC?

Yeah, that's true. I was at the Fiesta Frolick in the old days, and I was having dinner with Mack Brown. We were talking about injuries and reporting, they had come up with this concept or whatever that football coaches ought to be out of the business of reporting injuries because that's not our job. It should be the trainers and doctors that do that.

Looking at the model of the NFL, the best way we thought to do it would be to list the guys that were out because, each week, the trainer will come in and say, 'this guy has a chance, this guy maybe doesn't have a chance,' but everybody heals differently, so you don't know until they get on the practice field. I think it's up to them [the doctors] to make those decisions - who and why people are out. It's up to us as coaches to see if we can get them to practice and do what they have to do, so we feel that they can contribute on Saturday. It's better to release it Thursday after practice because then we are much more knowing than we are Sunday or Monday of who is able to play, or what they're able to get accomplished.

That doesn't mean things don't change from Thursday to Saturday, but you have a much better idea about Saturday once you finish Thursday's practice. Some guys think you ought to practice three days, some guys two days, some guys a day, some guys don't practice at all and make it; but it's still up to the trainer or doctor if he says, 'I think this guy is good to go Saturday.' You've got to believe him, and that's how you do the injury report.

When you were having the conversation with Coach Brown had you already taken the job here?

Yeah, I was at NC State. I brought it back and proposed it to [the ACC] and we did it in the spring meetings, then we decided universally that it'd be good because it got all of us out of was a guy 50 percent, was he 40 percent? Now, with the doctors and trainers, we'll tell each other on Thursday who we think can play, who is probable, who is questionable, who is doubtful or whatever.

What's your feeling about giving out that information? Do you have any hesitation to release it because you aren't discussing any injuries before the report comes out?

That's because the other teams weren't going to do it, either. I don't mind doing anything, as long as everybody is on the same page.

So, if other teams aren't going to be forthcoming with injury stuff…

Then why should I?


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