While inside the Murphy Center the football coaching staff preaches that every game counts the same, Wolfpack head coach Tom O'Brien said Monday during his weekly press conference that he knows full well outside Carter-Finley Stadium it's a different story.
Despite needing a win to assure that their hopes for an ACC title game berth are still alive, O'Brien said that is an added bonus when it comes to the UNC game. He said that if you come to play football at NC State, you quickly realize you are expected to beat the Tar Heels regardless if there is a lot on the line.
O'Brien also said that as a fellow ACC member, no one wants to see what is happening at UNC with its NCAA investigation happen at another conference school. He also said the agent matters made him take a look at his own program to make sure they were during the right things, adding that no one in college football lives in a glass house.
O'Brien also praised UNC, noting they throw the deep ball more and perhaps better than any team NC State faces, and that their offensive line has matured into a force in the running game. He also noted that the Heels have six of their back seven back despite all their attrition on defense.
Other topics O'Brien touched:
- He noted that fifth-year senior linebacker Nate Irving had a "terrible" first two series after being a bit too wired up from the senior day festivities. He could have had at least a couple more tackles for losses in those drives.
- O'Brien said that sophomore running back James Washington will get the bulk of the snaps Saturday because he is back in game shape after recovering from a preseason hamstring injury, and Washington has what O'Brien termed the best knowledge of what they want to do on offense.
Redshirt freshman Dean Haynes is cleared to go, but he will be third-string running back for the time being.
- O'Brien said they do not yet know what freshman walk-on kicker Chris Hawthorne's range is during a game. He noted that Hawthorne has a strong leg, but accuracy is the key.
- O'Brien has not been surprised by the success of the defensive line. He said the only question was among the eight players that rotate in and out who was going to play 35 snaps and who would see 25 snaps a game. He also said that rotation and depth has allowed them to be fresher and thus stronger and quicker than some of the offensive linemen they are facing in recent weeks.
Click on the link below to listen to Monday's press conference: