Doeren: Quick turnaround requires a short memory
As if things weren't already challenging enough for the NC State football team coming off a fourth straight loss, the Wolfpack must now deal with a quick turnaround that will have them playing again -- on the road, no less -- at Georgia Tech on Thursday.
It's a situation coach Dave Doeren addressed Monday during his regular weekly press conference at Carter-Finley Stadium, starting with the need to put the disappointment of Saturday's 34-20 defeat at the hands of Louisville:
"I told the team after the game, whether we won or lost we don’t have time to think about that game. We had to come in, and there’s some plays from that game that we have to learn from, so we watched it quickly and put it to bed. We know that we’re 72 hours away from competing, so you’ve got to flush it. You have to."
Doeren discussed the difficulties of preparing for a game during a short week, saying that it's harder on the coaching staff than it is on the players ...
"You’re on the field an entire day ahead of where you would be. It’s probably harder on the staff as it is on anything. We won’t practice as hard or as much because we won’t have many days. For us, you’re trying to watch 10 games that they’ve played and you’re trying to look at yourself and fix problems. The game is a lot about us not beating us. It’s just really quick."
"We’re leaving town Wednesday. We practice tonight. We practice tomorrow. We have a walkthrough and then we’re on a plane. When you’re dealing with injuries and health and also fatigue, going from a Saturday night game to a road game is really challenging for the staff and the players. We look forward to that opportunity. It’s a great chance to play a nationally televised game on a Thursday night. We’ve got to do everything to get them back."
As for the players, especially all the freshmen that are forced into action for the Wolfpack, Doeren is hoping they're resilient enough to bounce back quickly ...
"They’re resilient guys. The thing that has impressed me with them has been their resolve and their fight. I don’t think they’ll flinch one bit. It is what it is. These guys will go out there and battle. To answer your question, I don’t think I’ll truly be able to answer it until after the game because I haven’t seen them go through it yet. But from all indications of their mood and their mindset yesterday when we met with them, they were great."
As for the opponent, Doeren said that Georgia Tech is similar in a lot of ways to his Wolfpack because of the number of young players in its lineup ...
"Offensively, their quarterback is a very good athlete. Their slot receiver is probably one of the fastest players in the league. I think their tailbacks run really hard. They are physical backs."
Defensively, I think Geoff (Collins) obviously has a great history as a defensive coach. You can see that they do a lot of things with their front to try and disrupt the run game. They bring different pressures and play press coverage on the outside to deny your quick game. Up front they have a lot of guys that they rotate. Inside they’ve had some players make some plays. Their linebackers are tough kids. Their safeties are big, 6-2 and 6-3. They’ve done a good job of taking the ball away. They are minus five in turnover margin, but they’ve forced a lot of turnovers on defense."
"For us, being able to handle their movement with their front, being able to protect the football and create plays and finish plays with the ball is critical in this football game. It’s an opportunity for us to bounce back and get right back on the field and go compete."
One thing that would help the Wolfpack's cause is a turnover or two ... something it hasn't done since the Ball State game all the way back on Sept. 21. Doeren said he's at a loss to explain the lack of takeaways, saying he's never been through a stretch like this before ...
"I think recovering fumbles is a lot of times luck. You’ve got to have a lot of people getting to the football to have that luck, but a lot of times as you’ve seen balls just bounce right back to the team that fumbled it. That’s out of our control. Does it make me shake my head? I don’t know. Right now it’s just next play. That’s what I’m trying to do. Obviously, I’d love to light every candle in the world and do every trick to gain some good luck moving forward here, but I don’t really have an answer for why they’re not coming our way."
Finally, Doeren addressed the "sudden death mentality" his team must have in order to qualify for a bowl for the sixth straight season ...
"They understand that it’s a sudden death mentality if you’re thinking bowl season. We’ve got to win this one first. It’s the only one that matters. If you get this one, then you can talk about that. I would tell you that the senior class has never finished a season not in a bowl game, so those guys are talking about that, they want that."
"The bottom line is that if you don’t turn the football over and you make a few more plays, then you get that. I think that’s what I have to constantly remind these guys of. It’s great to talk about what you want, it’s more important to understand what it takes to get it."