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November 15, 2012

Q&A: Tom O'Brien talks special teams, Clemson

NC State coach Tom O'Brien met with the media following practice on Thursday morning to talk about Clemson and how good his special teams units were last Saturday.

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

Talk about the difficulty that quarterback Tajh Boyd's mobility can give you.

Any quarterback that can beat you with his arm and his legs, will give you problems. You have contain problems and guys like Tajh, in some instances, will get out of the pocket, as they all do, and your coverage breaks down because guys are getting out of where they are supposed to be in their coverage, trying to come up to contain the ball. That's where it really puts the pressure on you, and that's where we have to make sure that we contain him, try to keep him in the pocket and, if he does get out, we have to maintain our coverage.

Is he similar to FSU quarterback EJ Manuel?

Yeah, I think they both have a lot of similarities. They're the same type of guys — big, strong-armed guys that can throw the ball in the pocket and you have to look out for when they get out.

Do you think on the recruiting trail teams are now starting to look for guys more like that?

I think that's always been true. At quarterback, one of the things you have to do is have pocket presence, you have to be able to move in the pocket anyway to find throwing lanes, and then it has always been a thing to be able to get out of pocket.

A lot of people talk about Sammy Watkins for Clemson, but DeAndre Hopkins has really had a big year for them.

That's what I've said before, they have two guys. Every time we've played somebody, they've had one guy, but they can put one guy on either side of the formation, then they have a tailback that can beat you and we just talked about the quarterback. He's really had a big year, Hopkins has, and they set up things for Watkins, put him in different positions, but Hopkins is a guy that, within the framework of the offense, he gets himself open and gets the football thrown to him.

Winning on the road is obviously a difficult thing anywhere, but is there anything in particular that makes winning at Clemson especially difficult?

Noise is a factor, the crowd enthusiasm and excitement, once momentum gets going, it's tough to stop and get it turned around the other way if they get on a roll, and that's generally what happens when you get on the road, especially at a place where the stands are full and very enthusiastic for their football team.

Scheme-wise, is there a team you can compare them to that you've faced?

They're like a lot of four-down teams, everybody is pretty much similar to what we've seen, as far as the alignments up front. Two linebackers, the field guy, everybody is playing more hybrid-type stuff with the four-deep secondary.

Do they do more man or zone, or do they mix it up a lot?

I think he game plans and what he thinks how he matches up against you is what we're going to see.

How big were your special teams last weekend?

That's as good as a special teams day as we've had in a long time, maybe since I've been here. On punt returns, Rashard [Smith] has done a great job, he's got that knack for making the first guy miss, which you have to do if you're going to have a successful punt return. Then, the kickoff return, we've been working and working. We almost popped him on the first one, but got him on the second one. Losing T.J. [Graham] was a big loss, but those two kids have stepped up and done a pretty good job for us.

N.C. State NEWS


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