Following NC State's 27-17 win over Duke, two crucial players to the Pack's success, redshirt freshman quarterback Russell Wilson and redshirt sophomore linebacker Nate Irving met with the media.
Talk about Wake Forest and what you know about their defense?
"Yes sir, they have a lot of experience. They have a lot of guys that can run around and play, and they play hard every single play. We know it will be a good game."
What's coming easier to you as far as running the offense each time you play?
"I'm really starting the tempo of the game, I'd have to say the most. I realize when to go fast and when you have to kind of slow down. That definitely comes from experience, and definitely helps the offense."
Do you find that defenses are really putting an emphasis on bottling you up in the pocket?
"Nothing in particular. I just try to make plays and take what they give me. Wake Forest has a great defense, and they can do a lot of things. I just have to play each and every play as a new play."
Can you talk to me about the state championship being talked about around here?
"We aren't really worried about that, or anything like that. We are worried the next game, just winning a game. We know the in-state stuff is really important. The in-state rivals are really important. At the same time, we are just treating it as another big game on our plate. Each and every day, we have to go 100 percent in practice. We have to improve from our mistakes and improve from what is going well. That is the way we are looking at it."
Did Coach O'Brien kind of throw that out after being 2-6 to get something motivated for these last few games?
"Coach O'Brien is a great coach and he knows how to motivate us really well. At the same time, the players realize we are 2-6 and that we need to get going. We didn't realize that before. We just have to keep coming up on the short end before. Now, we won that big game at Duke and that definitely helps, winning that ACC game. We are looking forward to our game with Wake Forest."
Are you gaining more confidence in the wide receivers' ability?
"As they gain confidence in me, I gain confidence in them. You have to credit the offensive line. The offensive line did a great job, and the running backs did a great job of giving me time as well. I have to give the wide receivers and tight ends and running backs a chance. They made plays. I trust in them, and I trust in their abilities. I gave them a chance and they made plays."
How much do you attribute the recent success running the football to your ability to scramble?
"I attribute that to coach [Dana] Bible, the offensive line and the running backs, and the wide receivers ability to block, and also the tight ends. I don't really attribute it to myself. I think the running backs have been doing a great job, gaining as many yards as they can, and protecting the ball. The offensive line has to open gaps for them, and we have to continue that as well."
Does Coach Bible put special emphasis on the initial drive?
"No sir. Coach Bible is a great coach and he knows what he is doing. We all trust in him, and we just go with whatever he calls."
Formation-wise, how much does getting Anthony Hill back help you out?
"Anthony Hill definitely helps a lot, in the running game and the passing game. George Bryan did a great job stepping in for him. I have to credit George Bryan as well. Having a guy like Anthony Hill as a leader, a guy that makes plays, definitely helps."
Are you able to use two tight ends more now?
"Like I said, George Bryan definitely helps. Having him be able to step in. Having two guys like George Bryan and Anthony Hill definitely helps."
Did you meet Cal Ripken last Friday?
"I didn't hear about that."
Some of the baseball players met him?
"Really, how so?"
He was in town for a function.
"I've met Cal Ripken Jr. when I was younger. I guess I was 15 or 16, and I'm sure he doesn't remember me. I met him at a banquet that he came to in Richmond, Va. I went and got to meet him, which was kind of cool."
Is the offensive line playing at a higher level?
"They have definitely come together. They understand the stage that we are at right now. They are making plays. They are helping the running backs and are helping me with time in the pocket. They are doing a great job."
Is there a catalyst to that?
"Nothing in particular, they have been doing a good job all year, in my opinion. They work hard every day in practice. That is really what you have to attribute it to."
Is it them hanging in there?
"I definitely think it is them working with it every day. That is pretty much the answer to that."
Back in the Maryland game you had the ball at the one-foot line and it was raining like crazy. You came into the huddle clapping your hands, trying to fire them up. Is that difficult to do, be the positive guy, and if so how do you overcome that?
"It is difficult at times, but at the same time, that is my position. As the quarterback, you have to be a leader in the huddle. You want to look into each person's eyes and let them know that you are there for them. That we can get out of this, no matter what the situation is. You have to be able to weather the storm. That is what we've been for much of the year."
Do you remember what you said at that point?
"I don't remember what I said specifically, but just probably, 'Here we go fellows, lets get out of here right now.'"
Do you talk to different guys about different things or talk to the entire team?
"I just talk to the entire team."
Do you ever single a guy out like, 'It's coming your way'?
"I just talk to the entire team."
Can you talk about being able to watch film and actually see yourself on it?
"It felt great actually being out on the field with the team, being able to win that Duke game."
How do you think you played last Saturday?
"I haven't been able to watch it yet. I can only say I got to get better."
How rusty did you felt you were?
"I felt I was a little bit rusty, dropping the interception that I had, missing a couple of tackles, missing a couple of reads, I felt that I was a little bit rusty."
Did you feel like the defense gravitated towards you being back?
"I don't think I made a difference, it's just that when 11 guys have been playing together for a certain amount of time, there's a certain comfort level that's reached. With me being that 11th piece, I think we were all comfortable around each other knowing that we can complete the job at hand."
Did you feel like the defense gain confidence?
"I think so, there were a few plays during the game that helped us do that like the goal line stand and other fourth down stops, I think it gave us a little bit of confidence."
Why was the defense so effective against the run?
"It was just the game plan from the coaches, the effort from all the players on the field. They gave 110 percent. We followed assignments and did what the coaches asked us to do."
I've heard talk about the state championship. You smile a little bit, it sounds like something the team and coaches have been talking about. Where did it originate and how much has it impressed the players?
"I think it has a great impression on the players. I think we are the only team that plays all the team in the state. To be able to beat all of them would give us bragging rights for the year. I think that would be great and everybody on the team wants to accomplish that."
Who started you on that?
"Maybe Coach O'Brien, talking about a mythical state championship, just beating all the teams in the state."
How did you know you were the only team that played all the in-state teams?
"It was mentioned before."
"I believe so."
Wake Forest recruited you?
Any of the others?
"North Carolina, East Carolina."
Would it mean anything to you to win the state championship?
"It would mean a few things because I have people on every single team as friends, and some family on each team that I know. To be able to beat them, I can call them and maybe talk to them a little bit, have a little junk in the air. It will mean a great deal to me."
Talk to anybody from Duke?
"That is one school that I probably don't know anybody from."
Who do you know at Wake?
"I know Josh Adams and Dennis Godfrey. I'm familiar with them."
Do you have an early impressions of them?
"Josh Adams is a great running back. Watching some of his games from before, he ran the ball extremely well behind a good offensive line. I haven't seen too much of Dennis."
What about Wake Forest in general?
"They are a very physical team that runs straight at you and gets downhill."
For many years Wake was looked as a small, private school and now they are a bit of a league powerhouse. What's your perception of Wake Forest?
"I think the coach did a great job of turning that program around, doing what he's done and winning a ACC championship. I think he's done a great job of recruiting and playing, and everything like that with the school."
Can you tell me what you did when you were hurt in terms of how often you were in treatment?
"I was up for treatment two or three times per day. I just did ice and exercise, watching film sometimes in-between treatments. I would just stand on the ankle just trying to get it better."
What's the earliest you ever get in?
"About 6 a.m. in the morning."
Hard to get up that early in the morning?
"We had workouts and everything. Instead of working out, I'd just get treatments and then work out later on in the day."
What do you think about how you can get in good positions?
"I think it's just a God-given ability, and it's from studying opponents so good. Being put in certain situations and knowing what the opponent is going to do. Coach says you have to have an idea of what the opponent is going to do before they do it. I think that helps you out when you know."
Was that the case with the interception at Clemson?
"That was something the coaches stressed on that week, about the routes that they ran. I was able to remember what the coaches said, and I was in position for it."
How tough is it to defend Wake Forest's misdirection?
"It is very hard. As a defensive player, when you see offensive players going this way and that way, you kind of don't know which way to react to it. That often leads to you to doing the wrong thing, and making mistakes, and opening up holes to the offense for having a big play."
Is that a bigger concern than their ability to run the ball with power?
"I wouldn't say that. Like you said, there is a lot of misdirection, but at the same time they can run downhill at you and just pound you."
There was talk before you got hurt that maybe you could go early to the NFL, ever think about that?
"I don't think about that. I'm playing for NC State right now and whatever happens down the road, just happens."
What's your impression of Riley Skinner and his management of the offense?
"He's a great quarterback. He has an arm and a little bit of mobility, and that added mobility just makes him a dual threat. He is showing some very good things this year."