After holding N.C. State's first spring scrimmage on a blustery afternoon at Carter-Finley Stadium, coach Tom O'Brien fielded questions from a select few, brave reporters who weren't afraid to take their finger off the pulse of the Wolfpack's basketball coaching search for a few hours.
O'Brien talked about N.C. State's linebackers, offensive line and wide receivers. Here are excerpts from his post-scrimmage interview:
Q: How did the reshuffled linebacking corps look?
A: [Terrell] Manning’s comfortable. He’s playing his spot. He’s playing a little better. Audie Cole and D.J. [Green] have some things to work out. It’s the first time for them in those situations. Not having looked at the tape and studied it, I would think they’ll be a lot better next Saturday once they go through this tape and understand what’s going on in terms of how they relate to what the offense is doing and relating to how they have to get where they have to get to.
Q: [Camden] Wentz and [Zach] Allen and R.J. [Mattes] give you a center to the right side [of the offensive line] that’s pretty solid. How is the left side progressing so far?
A: [Mikel] Overgaard’s playing, and he started a couple games until he got hurt last year. He’s got some experience because he’s been around. [Duran] Christophe played last year. He backed up and played the whole bowl game. So those two kids have been in games. Maybe not as the other three, but that’s valuable coming back for the confidence level and having been in games. All the rest of the freshmen, they’re learning. They’re trying to get lined up, trying to understand where they’re supposed to go. We’re trying to be as basic as we can with them, but you have to test them and move on because each and every week there is a challenge. Those young kids, [Robert] Crisp played a little bit but not as much as, say, [Tyson] Chandler and those other guys. They’ve got to get out there. They’ve got to get their feet wet. They’ve got to get their nose bloodied and they’ve got to learn.
Q: Did you see any flashes from your early enrollee, [defensive lineman] McKay Frandsen?
A: I think he’s solid. He hopefully will give us what Akinniyi gave us last year. That’s what we’re hoping for. Or he’ll be more like [Natanu] Mageo coming in as a JC guy, where Natanu his first year was kind of there but really played a lot better his second time around, his second year. I think he’s going to be a guy that right now we’re looking at him as maybe a 20-, 25-play-a-game guy. It will be up to him to work his way into getting more plays. It will be up to him.
Q: What about your wide receivers? You need somebody to step forward.
A: I don’t think anybody has right now, and that’s something that we have to get done. Tough day out there, windy day out there catching the ball and stuff. And same thing. For a lot of those guys, it’s their first time in action. And it’s not practice. It’s not a drill. They have to go and get lined up and catch the ball. They’re going against some guys now that have played in the secondary, and that’s a good challenge for them. It’s going to make them – it’s all about competing, so as they get better, our secondary gets better. And the secondary has got to make them better.