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April 7, 2012

Q&A: Tom O'Brien talks first scrimmage (part II)




Here is the second part of coach Tom O'Brien's question and answer session with the media following the Wolfpack's first spring scrimmage.

What are you looking for as you prepare for the spring game [on April 21]?

We're still looking for individual improvements, as I said. We want everybody to become a better football player because then we'll be a better football team. We're going to stress that all of the way through - getting better, doing our individual things the right way, doing our fundamentals the right way and, at the end of the spring, hopefully, we feel good about most of this football team. As I told them after the scrimmage, it can't be 30 guys, it can't be 40 guys, it's got to be everybody, everybody's got to be in.

How are the wide receivers looking?

I think, for the first test - especially for [redshirt freshmen] Hakeem Flowers and Maurice Morgan - this was an eye opener. This was the first chance they got to really get out there and compete, so they'll be much better next Saturday than they were today, not that they were bad today, but they're not at the level they have to be at. This is a starting point, hopefully it will be a good enough starting point that by the time we get to August 31, they'll be ready to play.

Talk about the secondary's performance with two picks today.

We've intercepted a lot of balls in the last year, so they are operating at a high-level of efficiency, which is good for them and that's also good for our quarterback because he's throwing against a good secondary. And they're going against a pretty good quarterback who can get the ball and deliver it in the right spot. It's all about, 'I'm making you better and you're making me better.' It's a continuous climb. The challenge now is, 'well, the secondary got me today, I've got to get them,' and then they've got to step their game up. That's why we work on being better fundamentally, getting better and competing against each other, trying to make each other better.

Did you see that competitiveness today?

Yeah. I learned that a long time ago when I had Ray Roberts and Chris Slade, they went against each other every day at practice when I was at Virginia. They killed each other. They were best friends off the field but, at each practice, one would get the better of the other; but it made each of them better as it went on. That's how I've based everything I do in coaching, as long as we're in these type of situations.

Who got the better of it today?

I'm not going to say. You almost got me, but not quite.

There have been a few programs that are holding practices around the state - Carolina did it in Charlotte and Virginia is doing it. What are your thoughts on it and do you think you might do the same thing next year?

Yeah, we've thought about it. We can certainly do it, but it's always about does the value of it outweigh the fact that [otherwise] you're at home, doing what you're supposed to do and people come visit you instead of you visiting them. We've had more kids on campus this spring than we've had ever, probably twice as many as we had a year ago. We're in the spot we want to be, we want them coming here and being with us.

Is the positive the publicity that practicing on the road generates?

Yeah, there's no question about it. But if you win football games at a high level then you create your own publicity.

What have you thought about the running backs?

The thing is we have a good rotation. Tony Creecy certainly got better as the year went on and, so far, I think he's having a really good spring pushing Washington. When you have depth, that creates the competition. When they know there are only 'X' amount of plays that you get to play in a game, you fight for that number because you want to be out there and that's a good thing to have. Brandon Barnes ran with some power today, each of them are a little different in their own respects. Brandon broke a couple of tackles today, that's the first time he's done that since he's been here. Those are all positives going forward.

Can you talk about the tight ends, those guys have been stuck behind George Bryan but are getting an opportunity.

Asa Watson is coming back and it's good to see what he brings to the table. He's got more speed and quickness than all of them. Anthony Talbert had a pretty good day today, he's a big body guy. Mario Carter has been around and the freshman, Benson Browne has got talent, he's got to learn to be a little tougher, but we always believe we can make you tougher. You got to be able to move your feet and run, we'll take that first then we'll get them tough.


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