Tom O’Brien and Nate Irving met with media members following practice today and talked some about the physical play O’Brien talked about following Saturday’s first scrimmage. Here’s some of what they had to say.
On the injury front, running back Brandan Barnes is out indefinitely after dislocating his ankle during Saturday’s scrimmage. O’Brien said Barnes had surgery Saturday night to fix the damage.
Coach O’Brien mentioned that things have been more physical following Saturday’s scrimmage. Have you noticed that? Is that something the coaches or certain players have been harping on thus far?
“I’ve wanted to get more physical as an individual and I’ve wanted the team to get more physical and I think everyone on the team knows that and know that is what the coaches expect from us. He’s challenged us to be more physical and I think we’re beginning to answer the call.”
What was it like Saturday making the first contact?
“It was before Saturday we had a little live team period before that. It was more than I thought. I enjoyed and relished the moment and just moved on to the next play.”
Talk some about how being in the middle has changed your game. How was Saturday’s scrimmage from that perspective?
“It was kind of different from what I’m used to, you know being in there and going full speed as opposed to practice when you get breaks in between and all that. Being in the live scrimmage at middle linebacker was different but I’m enjoying it.”
Where would you say you’re at physically? Are you 100%?
“I know I’ll be 100 percent by the time the season starts. I know that much. Right now I know I still have more to do. Strength to pick up, speed, mental toughness and more to build up on. I’m not too far off.”
You said you were impressed with the physicality of Saturday’s scrimmage. What’s been different this year as opposed to the last two years?
“It’s what we’ve been trying to do anyway since we’ve been here. That’s one of the things that was a trademark of our football team at Boston College, being a strong, physical football team. We haven’t even been close to those types of things since we’ve been here. I think we’re finally getting the hang of it and figuring out what we have to do. We’ll keep pushing and keep trying to be stronger and tougher.”
Is the physical play a result of having more bodies or something else?
“We actually have less healthy guys now than we’ve had guys are just working. That’s the way it is.
Talk some about Nate’s development and how he did Saturday. Did the offensive line have any trouble with the defensive line and linebackers during the scrimmage?
“The matchup and some of the things that happen in the scrimmage doesn’t mean that anybody blocked him or didn’t block him. It’s the first scrimmage so I don’t get excited about any of those things. Nate isn’t anywhere close to where he was. In comparison he’s ahead of where Toney Baker was in a similar spot at this time last year. He’s got a long way to go but certainly him being out there is a big help to the defense. We’re trying to take care of him and not overwork him to make sure that something doesn’t get hurt again. It’s a question of managing properly and knowing he’ll be much better in August than he will be in even a week or so.”
How has Rashard Smith looked? Is he healthy?
“Rashard’s healthy enough but he’s got a long way to go. He’s got to play better than he played Saturday that’s for sure. He’s got to step it up and a lot of guys do.”
Does Nate’s status now make you excited based on how things worked out with Toney Baker last season?
“You’d think we could Nate back to full speed. That’s the thing. Right now he’s trying to learn the position, it’s a lot different than what he’s played before and he has a lot more responsibilities so right now the thing is the mental part. If he does the mental things now, once he catches up physically he’ll be ready to go.”