Football: The Pack and improvement? What improvement?

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    On November 29th we will face the Holes in their house. The Cheats have been practicing their systems for 3 years with athletes BMFD recruited and adding in athletes Fedora has recruited. This team was ranked in the top 25 preseason for a reason. They seem to be rallying and sticking together during all the adversity. That’s to be expected.

    There’s been a lot said about seeing or not seeing ‘improvement’ in Doeren’s reign as HC. That calls to question what is ‘Improvement’? I think it’s safe to say that generally speaking ‘improvement’ is a better won/loss record. Certainly to some that’s the only meaning. Nothing wrong with this point of view.

    I read a lot of suggestions on this board (and others) for ‘improvement’ that in fact might have produced another TD in a game or 2. I have to ask myself when I read these suggestions, is this ‘improvement’ going to cause a permanent elevation in the quality of our play? Is this suggestion going to transform something? Is this suggestion getting to the source of poor or mediocre play?

    Here’s an example of what I mean: for years I tried to ‘improve’ my golf game — IOW to lower my score. I tried everything to ‘improve,’ however, all ‘improvement’ was temporary. What I was ‘improving’ was flawed — not suitable for good golf scores. My score may have been lowered a few strokes for a while but it was sure to go back up. Aiming left may have ‘improved’ slice and my score but ultimately it didn’t improve my golf game. Learning to hit the ball with a slight draw was a step in transforming my golf game.

    I wanted to aim left to compensate for my slice and improve my score. Swinging inside out, hitting the ball to the right to eliminate the slice didn’t fit the pictures of what I thought would ‘improve’ my score. There were limitations on ‘improving’ my golf swing. And there are limitations on ‘improving’ a football program.

    To show ‘improvement’ Doeren would have to use the players he had when he got here and use the schemes these players were recruited to play in. Last year we would have used an offense suitable for Pete Thomas and perhaps won a few more games – maybe even a conference game or 2. This year we would have more of the same with Pete a senior. We would likely still be running a 3 LB defense, probably doing a little better against GSU and GT but ill equipped to compete against the spread offenses that are becoming more and more prevalent. We’d have improved’ while falling further and further behind in our goal of being a top 25 program.

    And what would Doeren and the staff have told the recruits, We’re ‘improving’? From what I gather from reading these boards, most of us think all our coaches have to ‘sell’ is the past. From reading what the recruits are saying, I think he is selling the future. The staff is creating a future for our recruits to live into, not a past and certainly not ‘improvement.’ He is also promising a family to belong to. Recruits say they feel comfortable here. It is a family atmosphere. That’s not just talk. Doeren’s and the coaches’ kids are welcome and are around the program.

    The recruiters get to know the recruit’s family, not just tell how ‘wonderful’ the facilities are , how great the education is and how great a tradition we have.

    So what could Doeren be trying to do if not ‘improve’? He could be attempting to transform how we play the game. He is installing an offense that he believes with the right personnel will allow the Pack to compete with FSU, Clemson and Louisville. He has already improved our S&C and is investing in Special Teams with scholarships. He insisted on the indoor training facility going up in the parking lot across from the practice fields.

    Another very strange thing Doeren is doing that most head coaches don’t do: he is listening to his players. They wanted to continue the morning practice and Doeren went along with them. He installed the leadership council, a way for the team to “own” the program. That Leadership Council picks the uniform combinations. There are other ways the players have ownership of the program. Just like in business that kind of “ownership” pays off in results in due time.

    While it could be argued that the defense is terrible and we would be better off doing defense the ‘old way.’ Doeren is installing a defense designed to stop modern offenses. (Offenses have been slowly adding receivers over the years to the point where we now sometimes have empty backfields.) Teams must change base defenses to accommodate what offenses are doing – going from 2 deep to 3 to 4 to 5 and 6 Dbs. Our base defense is now the 4-2-5. We are recruiting athletes like Germaine Pratt – LB size with safety speed and skills. The new base defense must not only be taught, the players must be trained in the execution of the 4-2-5.

    Doeren is not “treading water” while this is going on. The Pack is still trying to win games but their efforts are inside the bigger picture of installing the offense and defense.

    Doeren appears to have a plan to succeed. It starts with the 2-prong approach of S&C and recruiting and continues with modern, up to date offense and defense schemes. It’s doubtful that most of us will understand what he is doing and if we do, we are in trouble because if we understand that means Doeren is behind the curve.

    This whole essay is a figment of my imagination – the picture as I see it. The truth is we, you and I, don’t know what Doeren is doing. The clever folks will get a little dig in and say, ‘Hell, Doeren doesn’t know either.’ I assert he does know and I’d bet Debbie knows, too.

    I’m pulling for our boys to do their best and come home making us proud – win or lose. Either way the sun don’t shine on the same dog’s a$$ all day. We’ll be in C-F in 2015 as hungry as a wolf.

    Go Pack


    Excellent, GW. I agree with your view completely. Nicely put!


    Excellent, GW. I agree with your view completely. Nicely put!

    I’m not sure you mean my essay or my signature. 😉 Either way, thanks for letting me know you read it.


    Both, GW. Seems like something I’d say.


    What an encouraging read thanks.


    Thanks Grey – there will still be the naysayers and negative Nellie’s but those of who know the game can see the improvement. What an eloquent way of stating it.


    Nice post. I agree that there has been improvement. I also think it’s instructive to look at how others have taken long time mediocre programs in power conferences and made them pretty darn good on a national level. Take a look at Baylor and Kansas State. Snyder played triple crappy schedules for years at KSU in order to make sure he made bowl games and stayed on the fringes of the Top 25. Bridles stole RGIII from UH and his long time recruiting ties in Texas, combined with Texas getting lazy out on the trail were enough to turn Baylor around. The fact that he is one of the best two or three offensive minds in CFB didn’t hurt either.


    So far, so good, IMO. I like where we’re headed. I recognize it’s easy to be pointed in the right direction from whence DD started. The path gets more narrow as we progress. Time will tell.

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