Winning The Bye Week

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State's grueling start, eight games in eight weeks with the final four coming against ACC Atlantic Division opponents, ended this week as the Wolfpack had their first bye of the season.

NC State's grueling start, eight games in eight weeks with the final four coming against ACC Atlantic Division opponents, ended this week as the Wolfpack had their first bye of the season.

State and Louisville, last week's opponent, were the only two ACC teams who had yet to receive a bye, and it came at a good time. First of all, it's critical for the staff because it gives them a few days to really evaluate their roster and playbooks.

The Wolfpack began this week doing just that.

"We spent all day Monday watching our first eight weeks of the season, just going through it with a fine-toothed comb... looking at everything we've done," said head coach Dave Doeren. "There's a lot of good things that we've done. Who's making the most plays? Who do we need to get playing better? What can we do to help guys that are struggling? Where are the things we feel like we're being attacked? Where are the things we can attack other people with?

"We're [now] working on Syracuse a little, but we were more working on us. We can let the guys kind of decompress and take a break, recover mentally and physically, and get back at it next week."

According to Doeren, the "self-scouting" is really beneficial, especially when you can do it without having to prepare for a specific opponent.

"You learn a lot," he said. "You try to do it every week, but it's hard when you're trying to get your gameplan together. You look at your formation tendencies, down-and-distance, and field-position tendencies during the week.

"When you can sit down for 12 straight hours and just go through every single play by formation... looking at all the things you do out of 3-by-1, all the things you do out of 2-by-2, it doesn't matter where your back is. Defensively, are your coverages tying into certain formations? Are you too predictable?"

"It's really, really helpful," he added. "You have a lot of change-ups that you have in your bag that maybe you're not using enough."

Not only can coaches implement new plays and find players to utilize more, but they can also eliminate calls that haven't been successful, on both sides of the ball.

"We looked at a couple of things we were doing, and we thought they would be good and they aren't," said Doeren. "So, we're not going to do them anymore.

"We're going to just try and utilize our strengths these last four weeks."

For the players, the assignment was simple: eliminate the major flaw.

"This week we have talked about finding that one thing on film per player," Doeren stated. "We want to try to make sure it does not show up again. What is the one thing you have got to take off the tape going forward?

"If we can get our 74-man travel roster to do one thing better each, we’d be 74 times better as a football team."

Some teams had their bye earlier in the season, in fact, Duke is currently on their second bye week. Because of how long it's been since NC State has had a week off, Doeren pointed out that there will be some position battles during the bye, but at other spots it's going to be a time for rest and recovery.

"Every week, if there is competition at a position, we will have competition for that position in practice, not just because it is an open week," he said. "For example, Airius [Moore] played really well, so there is competition this week at middle linebacker because both guys deserve to play.

"At some positions there's not. Some guys have been playing really well, and we need to rest some of those guys. For instance, Quinton Schooley and Rob Crisp have played every snap this season for eight weeks, so we need to get some of those guys feeling good.

"But, at a position where you're not seeing a lot of production, where there's a player you feel like can take a job, there is always competition."

NC State checks in at 4-4 overall, but the Wolfpack is winless in league play. Four conference games remain, and Doeren added that the team's main goal is still attainable.

"Our goal is to get to postseason play," he said. "We have four opportunities, and we need at least two of them to make that happen. We are going to try to get all four of them.

"It starts with us just cleaning up the little things moving forward."

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