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November 16, 2011

Tom O'Brien

MIKE FINN: We now welcome NC head coach Tom O'Brien. We'll ask for a brief opening statement and then go to questions.
COACH O'BRIEN: Well, we're hard at work trying to figure a way to slow down Clemson. Certainly most explosive offense we will see this year. Have to get ready to block Branch and Thompson and Hawkins, the rest of that defensive front seven they have.
We look forward to the opportunity to play on Saturday and try to get ourselves back on track.
MIKE FINN: Questions for Coach O'Brien.

Q. In terms of getting back on track, what is the answer? You have a couple games left here. What is the emphasis?
COACH O'BRIEN: We have to win two games to become bowl-eligible. In order to win two, you have to win one.
We're finally back home. We spent three of the last four weeks on the road. It's an opportunity to get win number six, which then will allow you to get win number seven. That was the team's goal, is to be bowl-eligible.
We dug ourselves a hole, now we have to get ourselves out of it.

Q. Easier said than done?
COACH O'BRIEN: I think the mental approach we took last week was probably our downfall. We got caught up into the syndrome that hits a lot of college football teams. Certainly have no one to blame but ourselves.
Now we have to get ourselves ready to play a football game, play the same way when we were home last against North Carolina.

Q. It looked like you had a little bit of a problem in the red zone this past week. Has that been a continuing problem or just something that cropped up this week?
COACH O'BRIEN: Well, it happened in the fourth quarter. We got down there twice. We ran 23 plays to their five in the fourth quarter. We twice got down there, threw an interception, then ended up going for it four downs from about the 30 yard line and didn't get it in the last two minutes of the ballgame.
Certainly it's a concern that we're working hard on, trying to find a solution. We find a way to push one of those balls in, probably win the football game.

Q. May be painful to talk about. Luke Kuechly is about to set the all-time record for tackles. After playing him, what is your impression?
COACH O'BRIEN: It is not painful at all. He's a great player. As I said last week before the game, you could just mail in 15 to 20 tackles for the kid. He plays sideline to sideline, great instincts. Really good football player.
The only thing that hurts is he went to my high school (laughter).

Q. Tom, Clemson has all kinds of weapons obviously. The guy who triggers everything is Tajh Boyd. What have you seen on film of him and what are the headaches he gives you?
COACH O'BRIEN: I think he suits this offense well. I think they did a good job finding an offense that suits him. Certainly you can see from the first of the year on he's gained much more confidence each and every week playing as he is more experienced.
When you have weapons like they do at the wide receiver, the tailback and the tight end, you got a lot of choices. That helps things, too.
I think the other thing is they've been better up front, a little more experienced up front than they have in the past. They started three seniors and a junior up front. They have a tremendous amount of skill people.

Q. Do they play an up-tempo that's different from anybody else you faced this year?
COACH O'BRIEN: They seem to be from looking at tape. They're a lot faster than anybody else we played. Looks like they're trying to get the ball snapped in 15 to 20 seconds gone by on the clock. Trying to get up, trying to get going. It's a concern for us right now going into the game that we're able to play at that pace.
MIKE FINN: Coach, thanks for being with us. Good luck this weekend.
COACH O'BRIEN: Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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