NC State elected not to have their normal Sunday afternoon practice following a 34-27 loss at Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, N.C., Saturday afternoon.
Instead the players focused on on the film and got some time off. Part of that was to rest their bodies as they prepare for South Alabama Saturday followed by a short turnaround to a Thursday night contest at Cincinnati Sept. 22. O'Brien also wants to put the tough Wake Forest loss behind the team. He noted the only good thing he saw from the contest was that the players were more disappointed with their performance than perhaps even the coaches.
He saw positives on offense. He complimented the running backs for running hard with good vision and praised redshirt junior quarterback Mike Glennon's second start, noting he played "extremely well."
O'Brien was also happy with the offensive line giving up no sacks, and he said the kickers were a bright spot, calling freshman punter Wil Baumann "night and day" better.
There were not a lot of praise on defense however. When asked for some standouts on that unit against Wake Forest, he said he's be "hard-pressed to find someone on defense."
Practice resumes Tuesday, and although O'Brien said workouts are always rigorous, he said that a few players have been alerted that they need to start practicing better. He did not want to embarrass the players by naming them, but O'Brien sad, "They've been told, and they will be told again."
Click on the link to listen to O'Brien's press conference.
Other tidbits from Monday's press conference
- O'Brien said that he did not think fifth-year senior defensive end Jeff Rieskamp will return from a shoulder injury for the South Alabama game. Rieskamp is listed as questionable and described by O'Brien as week-to-week. O'Brien will know better on Wednesday if Rieskamp can play.
The loss of Rieskamp on top of fifth-year senior J.R. Sweezy has hurt the defense, O'Brien noted, adding they are the team's two best pass rushers. O'Brien said the lack of pressure on the quarterback played a role in Wake getting numerous key third down conversions Saturday.
He also added when Sweezy, the defensive captain, went down with his foot injury, the "dynamic of the unit changed." The coaches have spent the past few days trying to find players that could step up as leaders, noting there is a leadership "vacuum right now."
- O'Brien praised the speed on South Alabama's team, nothing the Jaguars have yet to trail in a game in their brief history spanning 19 games. He noted Saturday will probably be South Alabama's super bowl.
- Reflecting back at his days at Navy, Virginia and Boston College, O'Brien noted the year after a breakthrough season has typically been the toughest because of the bulls eye now on your chest. That's why the staff has been telling the players since January they have to do everything better than they did last year.