What was your reaction to coach Tom O'Brien saying the Wolfpack aren't a good team right now?
"I believe we all agreed with him. I think there's a lot that can be improved from that game. We also agree with how he said we have learned how to fight for 60 minutes, a full ballgame, to fight the whole game. There is a lot of stuff that we can definitely improve on."
Did it surprise you?
"I think it surprised some of us. I was actually, I thought that speech was coming because with us having penalties and stuff like that. It didn't surprise me too much."
Are you looking forward to playing your first road game?
"I mean, not really. You always like playing at home, but you kind of want to go ahead and get out there and see what it is like to play somewhere else, and see how you respond playing in someone else's house."
Do the older guys need to tell the younger guys how a road game is like?
"You just kind of reassure them and let them know you are going to be OK. You just let them know to worry about their job, and everything else will fall into place. You don't want to worry too much, but just go out there and play."
How do you see things going offensively right now?
"I just think that our offense as a whole is playing real well. I think everybody is doing their job and it's coming together. I think our offensive line did a great job this past game keeping people off of Russell, and we didn't give up any sacks [allowed one]. Our receivers and running backs are running great routes. Russell is making great reads, we're just coming together."
So you just have to fix the tight end position?
Are you surprised that the ACC has struggled in the big games this year?
"I can't really answer that. I'm not real sure. I just think that any game you go into, anybody can. It just depends on who comes and plays."
What is the mindset in the huddle when you are trying to get that first down on a final drive?
"The mindset? To stay on task and try to get the first down and score. That is our mindset. To get into the end zone."
Do you consider it an advantage or disadvantage to have four straight home games?
"I would consider it an advantage. We know how we play at home. We are 3-1 now, and are playing well. We got the crowd backing us up good because there is a buzz about us. I think us playing at home, we kind of came together, and there wasn't as much pressure because we had people backing us up compared to playing on the road."
Is Wilson playing better now than he did last year?
"I think Russell gets better every single game that he plays in. I think he's miles ahead of where he played last year. I think he is going to do nothing but keep getting better. Russell's personality is that he's one of the hardest workers that I've ever met in my life. He's going to do nothing but keep getting better."
How smart is Russell?
"Football-wise, probably the smartest guy that I've ever played with. He just understands the game so well. That is a credit to him. He's the first guy in the film room, looking at film, studying and breaking up the film. He just puts in the work, and it shows out on the field."
Do you have an example of his intelligence? "I guess knowing when, when Russell knows when to run. If no one is open, he understands, 'OK, I need to tuck it and just take off.' Or the other way, he sits back there and waits until somebody gets open. He just knows what he has to do."
How satisfying was it for the team to run the football so well against Pitt?
"The offensive line, they've gotten better every game, just like Russell has and everybody else on the offense. Toney Baker did a great job running hard, and the offensive line did a great job making holes for him. We are just keep getting better every week, and I think there are a lot more games like that to come for our rushing game."
When you are in pass protect, is it tough knowing what Russell is doing back there?
"We are always told to worry about what you have to do, and Russell worries about what he has to do. If I kick back and block the outside guy, then I'm going to understand that Russell will stay inside the pocket for the three seconds that he has, if he has that. If it gets a little bit longer, then you realize that Russell will probably take it and take off with it. You just do your job and hope everything works."
So, it is a three-second hold?
"That would probably be long for him, but he gets the ball off way faster than that."
Are you surprised teams show man coverage knowing Russell can take off?
"Obviously, they saw something where they thought they could cover Russell in man or us in man. Russell did a great job of understanding that some of his receivers were covered, and he just takes off running and gets us first down or touchdown. I wasn't too surprised. I don't try and worry about what they are going to do. I just worry about what we have to do, and adjust when the game comes."
Do you do any individual drills to work on your hands?
"The jug machine. I catch a lot of ball off of that. Just watching it in my hands and tucking it, stuff like that."
Is it the start of making a run for a state title again?
"Not really. I think we are just worried about Wake Forest because it's the next game. We are just trying to get another win under our belts. We aren't trying to think about last year because it was last year. We are worried about what's down the road, and not behind us. Wake Forest is the next game, so that's the most important to us right now."
Leroy Burgess transcript:
Were you surprised with what Tom O'Brien said after the game?
"No sir. It was a win, but an ugly win. When you want to be a good team, you have to do the smallest little details right. That's what coach O'Brien preaches. That is what we have to do to be on the top of the ACC, or one of the better teams in the nation."
What does it mean to you that NC State's defense is ranked No. 1 in total yardage?
"It doesn't matter right now to us. What matters to us is stopping the opposing team's offense. At the end of the season, if that still stands, that would be a heck of an accomplishment."
Does that come up amongst you guys?
"We knew, but like I said, at the end of the day, that isn't what we are worried about right now."
What have guys done well defensively this year?
"Really, I think communication. We are getting better at talking to each other during the game, and figuring things out on the sideline, making adjustments."
Do you think Pitt wore down a bit?
"Toward the end? I don't know. I was just kind of hyped and trying to stay mentally into the game. I couldn't tell you."
You couldn't tell a difference in your offensive line?
"No. They were pretty tough. I don't think they wore down too much, but I guess bringing in our two-deep, that probably did wear them down a good bit."
What adjustments were made at halftime against Pitt?
"It just came down, it really wasn't too much to adjust to. It was just calming down and not getting too excited. Basically, just calming down. We were a little antsy at the beginning. We weren't reading our keys, or reading the lineman. It just came down to basically calming down and playing football."
Did you have to adjust to the draw a little bit?
"That was one thing we had to adjust to. That is just calming down and reading your keys."
How is going on the road for an ACC game?
"That's a big difference when you get into conference play. Like coach says, it's time to man-up or shut-up. Like I said, if you want to get to the top of the ACC, you have to practice harder, get into the film room, and go to work."
Were you antsy about finally starting ACC play?
"You know we kind of talk about that, but the way coach O'Brien sets things up, just to get everything kind of set up for ACC play, so we are ready for it."
Are you ready for ACC play?
"We are ready. When we are in the hotel room and see other ACC teams play, and stuff like that, we are like, 'Man, we still haven't played anybody in our conference yet. When is it our turn?' It's finally coming up. We are ready."
How will the seniors help the younger players go on the road?
"Just, I guess, just letting them know that it is conference play. This is the big time. This is where you earn championships right here. You have to man-up now."
You've played spread and power teams, how is that for a defense?
"No, not really. Coach Archer gets us ready, and all our position coaches. They preach to us and preach to us. We just have to, like I said, settle down and know our opponent. Just go out there and practice what you preach."
Is it fun to prepare for different offensive looks?
"This year, practice has been fun. That is one thing I can say. Some of the younger guys, the talented younger guys that we have come in. They have just made it fun. Some of those guys are little speedy, shifty guys. Some of the guys, they just man-up with you and power you over. Practice is fun. It's grueling, but sometimes you have to figure out things that will make practice fun."
Did you play a lot against Wake Forest last year?
"Yes sir. I think I played a good bit."
How many times did you get blind-sided?
"I think two before it woke me up a little bit."
Can you sense the misdirection stuff is coming? "Like I said, just reading your keys last year. I was my first year coming in and playing, I was a little antsy and juiced up. I wasn't reading my keys. I just wanted to make a play."
Where did they get you?
"I think it was a guard. I had to figure out my chin-strap a little bit after that one."
How much different is it for the team to get off to a good start compared to the poor starts of the last few years?
"The confidence level is way higher. It doesn't seem like you are digging out of a hole. It's just maintaining what you have. Keeping that positive energy and that drive to keep doing better."
Do you see sometimes that the defense or offense just tries too hard?
"Not really trying too hard for the offense. Everybody knows when the offense gets going, it's dynamic and fun to watch. Dealing with the offense, I couldn't really tell you. I'm a defensive guy. That's something you'd have to ask on offense."
Is that a defensive tendency?
"It might be. You know, like I said, you are just so ready to go and you don't read your keys. Things just happen. It might be a defensive tendency."
Is it a mind over matter situation?
"Some games, you know Willie or Cash will remind us, 'Stay in tune. Stay in the game. It's not over.' It might be a defensive trait, but it is hard to tell since I'm not on the offensive side."
You ever feel sorry for opposing defenses in going against Russell Wilson?
"Yeah, I do. I do feel real sorry for them. Then again, that is the opposing defense, so it is kind of fun to watch. Especially coming from preseason training camp, there is a lot of ways to get tired in chasing Russell around. It's fun to watch. You just hear on the sideline, 'Go Russell, go! Go, go, go.' Then you hear the crowd roar. Sometimes you're not even paying attention and hear the crowd roar. You look up at the billboard [scoreboard video screen], and see Russell take off down the field. You just say "He has did it again.'"
Where does the defense go from here, leading the nation right now?
"Like I said, we aren't really paying attention to that right now. We are just focused on shutting the opposing teams offense down. Just keep doing what we do week-to-week. Coach says to go out and impose your will and have fun."