Wolfpack Moving 'Full Steam Ahead' Preparing for Saturday's Game

Brett Friedlander

There's still no guarantee that NC State's football game at Virginia Tech will be played as scheduled Saturday. The definitive answer won't come until the final round of pregame COVID-19 testing is in the books.

But until told otherwise, Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren said that he and his team are going "full steam ahead" with their preparations.

The game at Lane Stadium was originally scheduled to be played as the season opener for both teams on Sept. 2, but was pushed back two weeks after State's preseason camp was interrupted for eight days by a COVID-19 outbreak within the program.

Saturday's rescheduled version also remains in doubt because of a coronavirus issue, this one involving the Hokies.

Tech's game against rival Virginia last week was postponed only three days before kickoff because an unspecified number of players that were forced into quarantine because of positive COVID-19 tests or contact tracing.

On Monday, coach Justin Fuente expressed concern that he'd have enough players to put a team on the field against the Wolfpack, saying 'I hope we'll be able to play." Even if they can, he acknowledged that his Hokies "will not have a full roster."

That's not a problem that concerns Doeren. He said during a virtual media conference Thursday that his job is to prepare his team to play regardless of who the opposition puts out onto the field.

"I’ll be honest, 2020 has been a year of uncertainty," Doeren said. "It's kind of what you’re used to at this point. Would it be great to know who is going to be out there? Yeah, it would. But that’s not where we are at. I can’t dwell on that. 

"We just have to focus on being able to make good adjustments. I think that’s the key. We’ve talked a lot about things that they might do, but we also know that there’s going to be things that they do we weren’t ready for."

No matter how prepared Doeren and his staff are for the Hokies, they've learned from experience that there's no foolproof defense against the coronavirus.

That being said, they're taking every precaution possible. That includes making the trip to Blacksburg by bus rather than flying as they normally would.

"We have eight buses," Doeren said. "There’s 10 players per bus. The bus normally seats 50, so there's going to be one player in a row of two seats and then an empty row in between them. It’s going to be, I guess you could say, a contact tracing eliminator the way we’re busing, so the guys won’t have that issue if, God forbid, we have someone on there test positive. 

"We test in the morning and we won’t get our results until we’re already up there. We want to make sure we eliminate the impact of that, if that were to happen. There’s a couple coaches on each bus, so it’s probably 12 people on each bus."

With an 8 p.m. kickoff and a 3 1/2-hour drive back to Raleigh, the team isn't expected to return home until 5 a.m. on Sunday.

"It’s going to be a long night," Doeren said. "Hopefully it’s a bus ride home that we are celebrating on." 

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