November 15, 2007

Thursday's practice report: Squad hopes to refocus

North Carolina State coach Tom O'Brien doesn't want his team worrying about two different colleges.

Defeating Wake Forest is hard enough, but it can become even more complicated if the players are still thinking about a second team - North Carolina.

The Wolfpack are coming off a stirring 31-27 victory against the Tar Heels last Saturday, setting up essentially a two-game playoff against Wake Forest this Saturday at 4 p.m. in Winston-Salem, and the season finale against Maryland.

Erasing the win over the Tar Heels will help with the process of making a near-miraculous charge for a bowl bid.

"I hope but we are going to find out Saturday," O'Brien said. "I think as the week went on it faded a little more and more, and hopefully they understood how important this game is."

The psyche of the team has changed dramatically the last four weeks as each win has piled up.

"They have gained more confidence. It goes back to if they understand what they are doing, then they aren't thinking all the time and can have a little more fun and banter on the football field."

O'Brien joked that sophomore defensive end Willie Young and senior wide receiver Darrell Blackman are always vocal on the football field. Blackman has been like a coach on the field for a lunch pail offense that doesn't really talk much, but is more focused on execution.

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