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O'Brien Looks Ahead To Wake Forest

Head Coach Tom O'Brien looks ahead to Saturday's Wake Forest game.

Head Coach Tom O'Brien looks ahead to Saturday's Wake Forest game.

Oct. 30, 2006

As his team began its preparations for Saturday's important road game at Wake Forest (7:00 p.m., ESPN2), Head Football Coach Tom O'Brien spoke with members of the media in his weekly teleconference.

Q: Looking ahead to Wake Forest, can you put a finger on why you seem to have the same kind of games every year?

A: "Well, we've been evenly matched teams and sometimes when you are that way, that's the way it works out at the end of the game where somebody has to make a play to win. There have been some strange things that have happened for us in the games against them. Last year's game was a soggy day but it certainly wasn't like it was on Saturday, which were tough conditions for both teams to play."

Q: You made a remark about Wake earlier in the year about the type of season they are having given the injuries they've suffered this year.

A: "I don`t remember what the statement was. I just remember saying that I thought Wake Forest was going to be the surprise team of the year because they had 17 or 18 starters back, most of whom were fourth-year and fifth-year seniors and they had the most experienced football team coming back and weren't that far away from a winning season a year ago, and it's obviously proved to be true because they have done a tremendous job. They are the most experienced team in the ACC. They are not playing any true freshmen. Injuries have forced them to play a couple of redshirt freshmen. It's a pretty good situation when you have all of that experience."

Q: How astonishing is it that they have had such success given that they have lost their starting QB?

A: "I think that is huge to lose your quarterback and be able to replace him and have the kind of success that they have had."

Q: Can you comment on the play of Mark Herzlich? Is he earning himself more playing time?

A: "I think he did an exceptional job, especially being a freshman. One of the things we were concerned about going in is Buffalo had so many different formations and looks. The main thing the middle linebacker, as quarterback of the defense, has to do is get the defense lined up and I think he did an excellent job of that. He certainly has a knack of finding the football. He's been in the rotation a little bit with Jolonn (Dunbar) but I think that with his play, and the way he performed on Saturday, we feel very comfortable putting him in the game."

Q: How tough is it for a true freshman to be able to handle those responsibilities?

A: "I think it is unusual but like I said, the thing that is great is that we've got quite a few of the freshman filling in positions and they are really doing a great job for us right now and he is doing a great job."

Q: What did you learn about Chris Crane with the extended look that you got?

A: "I learned that he is a good player. We thought that he would be able to perform the way he did. I think that he would have performed much better if there were drier conditions but that wasn't the situation. He competes. He made a lot of good decisions out there. Anytime you are on an offense that scores 41 points, that is a pretty good day."

Q: You've always placed a special emphasis on getting through October because it sets up what you want to do in November.

A: "I think, as always, November ends up being championship month. We've always been concerned with getting to this point and trying to part of a championship, be part of a championship race, and we are so it is an exciting time for this football team."

Q: Can you talk about the play of Austin Giles and his ability to reach the QB?

A: "Well, we've got into the rotation with the defensive line where we keep a lot of guys fresh and he's done a great job of jumping in there - he and Albright - with that second unit, they have really made some plays for us. It seems like Giles hits the QB and Albright recovers the fumble. He has done an excellent job of rushing the QB. He's got strength and he's got power and quickness so hopefully he can continue to do it and keep getting his sacks and his turnovers."

Q: Did you envision him being this far along?

A: "No, obviously we thought coming in that (Jim) Ramella would be a guy with us and with Larkin coming back and that he (Giles) would be somewhere fighting for a backup job. He's thrust in the starting role early and did a nice job and then Brady Smith came to the front for us so we made that switch but it's helped the defensive line to get the rotation. We feel very good now with the eight guys that we are using up front. I think that they all help each other. I don't think that anybody played more than 24 plays Saturday in the front eight for us, which helps."

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