RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The old saying goes “practice makes perfect.” Two weeks ago, according to N.C. State head coach Dave Doeren, his Wolfpack were far from perfect.
“I don’t think we had the same edge in practice,” Doeren said. “And I talked about that to the team on that Tuesday of Virginia Tech week. I thought we were sloppy and not the same team we were preparing for Wake.”
Doeren’s fears were realized a few days later in Blacksburg. “I told them they needed to get their stuff together or they’d pay for it,” said the Wolfpack mentor. “And we did.”
N.C. State was blown out at Virginia Tech, the Hokies jumped out an early 17 to nothing lead and never looked back in a 45 to 24 setback.
Doeren has stressed to his team that you have to play like you practice. That is especially true for a young team like the Pack. Older players may be able to get away with it but N.C. State doesn’t have a bunch of veteran players.
But it would take more than just the head coach to preach the virtues of good practice habits. The players have to buy-in.
“We learned a hard lesson,” Doeren said. “But you have to credit the leadership on the football team. They said they’re not going to have that.”
The team, though, got a little help it must to noted. “I demanded it,” Doeren admitted. “But they followed through. All of us who have children know, that you can tell your kids not to do things until you catch them doing it and they learn a tough lesson.”
It’s easy for players to take criticism from coaches. That’s what coaches do. It’s much harder for a player to demand good practice habits from their teammates. That can be an awkward situation.
“It’s got to be constructive, it can’t be personal,” explained Doeren. “It takes courage for a teammate to tell you something like that. You need to understand he’s coming to you from a place of love and that he cares and wants to win.”
And as the Pack found out on Saturday, winning feels a whole lot better than losing. Even if you have to feel the sting of criticism to achieve it.
The Wolfpack had a couple of Players of the Week as announced by the ACC. Quarterback Devin Leary threw for a career-high 336 yards and four touchdowns in the win over Pitt. While Emeka Emezie is the wide receiver of the week after catching two touchdowns including the game-winner with 23 seconds left.