Often times, it can take several weeks to get such a scout team to become this effective. Yet, even though the results didn't show until later in the season, the 2008 NC State defensive scout team wasted little time getting up to speed.
The defensive scout team didn't have the blue-chip that was on display with their offensive scout squad, but they definitely packed more punch – and a lot of that had to do with their collective attitude.
As with all scout teams, these players faced a period of transition in which they slowly developed a sense of purpose and pride in their own actions as part of the scout team. For many teams, this transition takes a while, especially with so many players coming to camp expecting to play right away with the first and second teams.
But according to Graduate Assistant Bobby Blick, this unit quickly accepted their role in the program, and they eventually developed an attitude of confidence that soon carried over into first team offensive unit they faced day after day.
"During the first couple weeks of practice, players realize that the scout team is a right of passage, and that it will benefit them in the long run," said Blick. "Once the light turns on and they realize this, they begin to take a tremendous amount of pride in their actions on the squad, and in doing so, they help our team reach its full potential. This squad understood that early, and it showed."
Blick, in his first year with the defensive scout team, explained that his players quickly took ownership of their contributions thanks in part to a merit system put in place to gauge the performance of the individual players.
This system, which assigned points for individual plays like tackles, pass break-ups, etc., helped determine the defensive scout team player of the week who would carry the state flag as the team charged onto the field before every game.
"Carrying the state flag onto the field before every game is such an honor, and the players took this to heart," said Blick. "It was important to them, and they used it as motivation."
With the Wolfpack returning several experienced players on the defensive two-deep, many on the defensive scout team will need to constantly battle for playing time in 2009. However, this group will have an impact on the team one way or another, regardless of their place on the organizational chart.
Naturally, Blick has a great deal of confidence in the contributors to his first defensive scout team, but it was more because of their collective attitudes than anything else. When asked about what really stood out on this year's scout team, Blick's answer was straight and to the point.
"We had a good cohesive unit this year," he said. "Not to take away from units of the past, but our guys this year understood that if they didn't have a good week, our team as a whole didn't have a good week – and this usually translated to the field on Saturdays. Throughout the season, it was no secret our success on the field corresponded to our great scout practice weeks. These guys got that from the get-go, and I'm proud of that."
How many of these players will make an impact next season? The answer probably won't come any sooner than mid-August when fall practices begin. The more important question is: Will these players transfer onto the field the confident attitude they developed as members of the 2008 scout team? Bobby Blick definitely thinks so.
Check back tomorrow as we begin our position-by-position breakdown of NC State's 2008 Defensive Scout Team by looking at the defensive line.