NC State head coach Tom O'Brien's talked about a variety of subjects during his weekly Wednesday ACC teleconference.
Below is a transcript of some of his key points:
Certainly hopefully we used the off week to our advantage. We prepare for an excellent Virginia football team who had a great win last week against Georgia Tech. Obviously, we've got to stop the power run, play-action pass, No. 16 [Michael] Rocco has done a great job. And they're very experienced on defense. They're playing with nine juniors and seniors and we're going to have our work cut out for us in Charlottesville on Saturday.
Have you physically been back to Charlottesville since you left in 1996?
"I haven't been back since June of '97 when we moved to Boston. I've been through town. I recruited at Fork Union and went through the airport, but I really haven't been back. I haven't seen the stadium or been close to the stadium since then."
You still know your way around town though?
"I think I can find my way around. I was thinking about going jogging Saturday morning and trying to remember the old route I had. But I don't know if I can remember it all.
Can you talk a little about David Amerson and the season he's had this year?
"Well, we played him last year. Started him about midway through the year as a true freshman, and played him into the boundary as a rolled up corner. He has very good talent. [Linebackers coach] Jon Tenuta thinks he's probably one of the top five corners that he's been around in coaching as far as talent goes as a corner.
"After this past spring, we ended up moving him to the field, where he has more opportunity. What he does, he plays the ball well. One of the things that he got fooled earlier in the year was a lot of double moves because he has been so aggressive. The last couple of weeks he has picked that up and played those very well. In fact, the last interception [against Central Michigan on Oct. 8] he had, one of the interceptions last week was on a double move. He has great instincts, he has physical ability and he now understands things a lot better. He keeps getting better every game."
How do you see the team rebounding during the second half of the season such as past teams?
"The past has been, our first year, it was a question of getting people back, and getting the right people in the lineup. We had the wrong people in the wrong spots. We were able to restructure the defense and offense.
"The second year, we were in a situation like we were in now. We had so many injuries the first half of the year that we couldn't get any continuity until we got to the off week, and got people healthy and back at it again.
"We were hoping that would be the case this year. We haven't gotten people back from the injury list. We used the off week to try and get the guys that we have to play now in the second half of the year fundamentally sound and better football players. We are who we are and we are going to go play the second half of the year."
Any reason for the constant injuries in three out of the last four years?
"Two of the last three years [injuries struck], but last year, we stayed healthy. We missed two games all year on defense, won nine games and got ranked, and the whole thing. Right now, we have already missed 24 games by guys on defense, and they are all at the same spot, at defensive tackle and defensive end, and one linebacker with [Terrell] Manning missing two games."
Anything about the strength and conditioning program to why injuries keep occurring?
"It's broken bones. We got guys who got broken bones in their foot. We've got guys who have been chopped blocked at the line of scrimmage at their knees and ankles. If you start pulling muscles, then I'll start talking about strength and conditioning. When you get chopped and your ankle and knee goes, that's a structural problem."
Tight end George Bryan has 10 catches in six games and is getting a lot of extra attention. How do you feel his game has gone?
"I think he's probably a little frustrated. I think he is understanding what is going on. Certainly, early in the year, it's two and three guys on him. He's getting a lot of attention, but that has given T.J. Graham and Jay Smith last week a lot of opportunities, and they stepped up. It's all part of the game. The quarterback has a progression and he will throw to an open guy. If they want to cover one or two guys, the third guy better be ready to catch the ball."
After being an offensive line coach at Virginia in the past, so what are your impressions of the Cavaliers offensive line right now?
"They certainly were impressive last Saturday against Georgia Tech. When I was there, we always had guys that could run and get out on the flank and perimeter, and they'd do a good job with that toss sweep. Their handoff zone play to the outside, they've got guys that can run, are big, are powerful and they can knock you back. It's a very effective line, and they've got two sophomores on the line on the right side, which is impressive that they are playing at that level. You can understand the left side with the seniors and the juniors and the center. It's a very good line."
"I think [offensive coordinator] Dana [Bible] has used film of Matt Ryan, but not so much for Mike, but for the passing offense and where we are going and what we are doing. The first time he threw in camp for us, Dana looked at me and I looked at him, and it was déjà vu all over again. It was another Matt Ryan. The pro scouts that have been in so far, a lot of them have already commented that you got another Matt Ryan, but with a stronger arm. There are a lot of similarities between he and Matty as far as throwing the ball. Michael is getting better each and every week [with his] decision making and accuracy, and understanding the pass offense and his leadership. He's had a really good first six games, and first six-game growth."
Do you enjoy going against any of your former assistants such as UVa coach Mike London?
"At first, it was a little difficult. It was tough when I went back, especially against Spaz [Frank Spaziano] at BC because we started off together in 1975 and coached for such a long time. Mike hasn't been on my staff for 10 years now. There is a little bit removed. I don't know if there is any familiarity. He might have more familiarity with me and the way I think than the way I would know how he would coach a team. I would have some idea on how he would coach the defensive line because he was the coach there for me."