Oct. 17, 2013
RALEIGH, N.C. - Most college football teams use the bye week to look back at their previous games, identify mistakes and weaknesses, then attempt to correct them for the remainder of the season. In its three practices this week before the open weekend, the Wolfpack has worked on those things as well. But head coach Dave Doeren and his staff have also used the week to do something fairly unique: build next year's team.
Every day this week, after regular practice was complete, Doeren has huddled his travel squad up and then sent them back to the Murphy Center for conditioning and treatment. Then he and his staff put all of the younger players through a 30-minute "developmental" practice. Any player who is redshirting the season or not playing significant snaps has stayed out and gone through individual drills with position coaches and even some scrimmage work.
These aren't the only "developmental" practices that the Pack will hold this season. Every Sunday, Doeren and his graduate assistant coaches bring the same group out on the field for a practice while the remainder of the team lifts weights, meets and has walk-throughs.
"I do this because I always thought the redshirt guys get ignored," said Doeren, who started the practice as the head coach at Northern Illinois. "It makes them feel like they're a part of something and not like `they just shelved me for a year.' They have coaches coaching them once a week individually - they're not just looking at a card on the scout team. I really enjoy the one-on-one interaction with each of them as well."
Doeren says the practices are especially beneficial if the team reaches its yearly goal of going to a bowl. "When you get to a bowl, you have the opportunity to work with them but if they don't even know the offense it's hard. When we go to a bowl game, they will already know what to do and can actually get better."
The coaching staff has already seen the benefit of the developmental practices and knows that the biggest impact will be felt in 2014. "It's night and day from where we started," Doeren continued. "Our redshirt class has collectively gained over 200 pounds and they know our schemes. When spring ball starts, they're going to know what they're doing and that's important because we're counting on a lot of these guys to jump right in and play next year."
Last Friday, when the travel squad finished its walk-through, the developmental group scrimmaged. "It was good for both groups," said Doeren. "The travel team guys enjoyed cheering them on and coaching them and the younger players really got out there and competed.
"For those guys, just to be able to play football is a fun day."