Coach O’Brien pleased with N.C. State’s growth on football field

N.C. State ‘faster’ and ‘better’ than a week ago

calexander@newsobserver.comApril 14, 2012 

— The touch of a smile on the face of N.C. State football coach Tom O’Brien was a tipoff Saturday.

After a Wolfpack scrimmage at Carter-Finley Stadium, O’Brien looked and sounded pleased, saying, “I think we got better today. A lot of guys got better and individually improved."

“We played faster today, I think, on a lot of levels and that’s what we were looking for. I’m happy with the progress we made this Saturday from last Saturday.”

Again, there were no individual statistics released from the controlled scrimmage. O’Brien said the overall totals were: 38 rushes for 26 net yards; 23-of-48 passing for 234 yards, with four interceptions and two touchdowns; 12 tackles for a loss for 47 yards; and seven sacks for 35 yards. The Pack was 2-for-3 on field goals, converting from 44 and 42 yards and missing a 42-yarder.

O’Brien said he was not concerned about the rushing total, noting the tackles for losses accounted for a chunk of the lost yardage and adding, “it’s all about who’s rushing and when they’re rushing.”

O’Brien didn’t mention a lot of names but noted freshman wide receiver Hakeem Flowers “stood out” in the scrimmage and made some plays. He said backup quarterback Tyler Brosius was getting better and “taking some good strides forward” in the spring.

O’Brien praised the play of the offensive line, saying, “as a whole it’s performed at a better level than they have at any point since we’ve been here.” He said quarterback Mike Glennon has not been sacked a lot, even though there have been 19 sacks in the two spring scrimmages.

While the top defensive priority is deciding on starters at linebacker, O’Brien noted there had been a lot of changes among the front seven defensively during the spring.

“We’re not anywhere close to being set with any type of rotation,” he said. “It’s a lot of guys fighting for jobs.”

Asked to name a couple of players who have emerged as surprises in the spring, O’Brien mentioned defensive end Forrest West and defensive tackle A.J. Ferguson.

O’Brien, with another smile, said he heard associate head coach Jon Tenuta “say something good” on the field Saturday about linebacker Rickey Dowdy — a rarity for Tenuta and a good sign for Dowdy, a junior. More seriously O’Brien said of Dowdy, “He needs to step up and play for us. It’s his time to play.”

O’Brien said there were no injuries at Saturday’s scrimmage, always a concern.

N.C. State’s Kay Yow Spring Football Game is Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Carter-Finley.

Alexander: 919-829-8945

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