NC State head coach Tom O'Brien said his football squad will need to become "road warriors" as they embark on a stretch of three games out of four away from home to end the season. O'Brien noted the last time State had to play three road games in November was 1973.
The task starts Saturday afternoon at Clemson. The Tigers and Pack kickoff at noon. O'Brien hailed Clemson's front four as a big and powerful group that is as explosive as any NC State will face.
Clemson junior defensive end Da'Quan Bowers in particular will be tough to handle. O'Brien said that Bowers is going to win some battles Saturday, and he added that he has heard from some pro scouts that Bowers could be a future No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft.
O'Brien also noted that despite the apparent loss of leading rusher, sophomore Andre Ellington, Clemson is still very talented, especially at running back.
Other tidbits from O'Brien's weekly Monday press conference:
- O'Brien would not give any details or updates on fifth-year senior linebacker Nate Irving's thumb injury. Irving hurt the thumb late in the game against Florida State.
- O'Brien said that he does not believe the inconsistency that has plagued the ACC this year is limited to the conference. He thinks it also affects all of college football, and one reason for that is the social media. O'Brien noted that the coaching staff can control the message inside the Murphy Center, but not outside of it where plays can get a different message.
- Redshirt junior quarterback Russell Wilson ran the ball well against Florida State. Both his 10 and 20-yard touchdown runs were not designed, but rather the product of Florida State playing man underneath defense, and the middle linebacker leaving his zone to cover the running back out of the backfield. That opened the field up for Wilson.
O'Brien also added that they have never told Wilson not to run, and they had actually been working on Wilson stepping up in the pocket. O'Brien said part of the reason that Wilson has not run as effectively as he had in the past was because teams were taking it away from him, especially on the perimeter.
- O'Brien said that the offensive gameplan against Florida State, which focused heavily on the run, was how he used to like to play, but he said that the offensive plan of attack each week is just to do whatever it takes to get the ball into the end zone.
O'Brien was particularly pleased though with how freshman running back Mustafa Greene did after getting a break. O'Brien said that Greene had hit a wall at the bye week, but he came back quicker off the rest.
- O'Brien said that redshirt sophomore safety Earl Wolff took a step forward against Florida State and made some plays against the Noles that he did not make in the loss earlier this season against Virginia Tech.
- On the recruiting front, O'Brien said the 6-2 start has helped, and they are getting a lot more interest from prospects. He did not get into any specifics however.