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November 5, 2012

Tom O'Brien wants a mentally stronger team



After a deflating 33-6 home loss to Virginia Saturday at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, head coach Tom O'Brien chose not to burn the game tape or anything like that.

After all, "There's always something to learn," O'Brien noted.

He also observed a little more focus from his squad Sunday. There was not a lot of chatter from what he described as a somber group.

NCSU has to move past the Cavaliers and turn their focus onto Wake Forest. The Deacons are 5-4 overall and 3-4 in the ACC. Like NCSU, they need one more win to become bowl eligible.

It will be a challenging assignment for the Pack to pick themselves up and play a motivated Wake squad.

"We have to accept the fact that we have to play a certain level each and every week," O'Brien said. "We can't just go out and think we can play the game and win. For whatever reason, we didn't show up and play the way we're capable of playing last Saturday.

"It's on us to get ourselves back to where we were playing the previous four weeks before that. If that happens then we're going to put ourselves in a position to win."

O'Brien said that he takes a factual approach with his squad through good times and bad, and he believes there are "too many positives for these kids to think that we can't go out and win some football games."

Still, even a couple of days later it's hard to explain what happened against Virginia.

"Somewhere between Thursday and Saturday something changed," O'Brien said. "Talk to the offensive coaches, they thought they had a really good week of practice. There was enthusiasm, they were sharp, but then we went out, there were a lot of guys on offense that didn't play really well. That was as bad as we played I think offensively I think all year.

"The bottom line is they controlled the line of scrimmage on both offense and defense, which is something that we've always prided ourselves on."

O'Brien is not going to make wholesale personnel changes, noting they have reached the point in the season where "there's not a lot of changes you can make."

Instead the coaching staff's emphasis will be getting the players to be mentally focused for the Deacons, who features one of the league's most potent quarterback-receiver duo in junior signal caller Tanner Price and his favorite wide receiver Michael Campanaro.

"They have to see it, they have to recognize it, they have to execute it and they have to play," O'Brien stated. "They got to play with more passion and emotion than we showed up with on Saturday."



Other tidbits

- A popular topic of conversation during Monday's press conference was social media. O'Brien noted that it's pointless to ban twitter use, joking, "Whether I ban it or not they are going to do it."

Nevertheless, he worries that players get caught up in social media, especially during the emotional ups and downs of the season.

"Social media their way to do things," O'Brien noted. "You can't be great one week and dogs the next week. They've got to understand that's the way fan bases go whether you win or lose, but that doesn't mean who and what you are.

"Who and what you are is what you do each and every day over here to make yourself the best football player you can be."

- Saturday's contest against Wake Forest is the annual Toys for Tots game. In the previous five years State has raised over $200,000 for the program, for which O'Brien serves on the Board of Directors. Fans are encouraged to bring toys or make a donation to the program at the gates Saturday.

- O'Brien is a believer in Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe's philosophy of aggressively redshirting players. O'Brien recalled a story from his days at Virginia as an assistant coach under George Welsh.

"Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet," O'Brien stated. "We were having a miserable year and Coach Welsh wanted to play all the freshmen and we talked him out of it, and that led to the Sugar Bowl and all the great teams that we had because we finally got into the rhythm of redshirting guys and building a program the way that it should be built."




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