Striking a Balance

  • By John Antonik
  • |
  • December 07, 2011 09:16 AM
  • |
With about a month between games, Dana Holgorsen says his coaching staff must find a balance between getting enough work in before the game and not over-preparing his football team.

“You get 15 practices for a bowl game and you’ve got to treat it like a spring practice,” he said. “You’ve got young kids who spend a majority of the time on the developmental squads and scout teams and if you have any extra time, you can work those guys out and get them better at playing football. That’s one of the biggest advantages of being able to play in a bowl game is to work those guys.”

Holgorsen is also keenly aware that his guys have been at it for four months since the beginning of August.

“You’ve got to give them some time off,” he said. “You’ve got to get through finals and you’ve got to give them some time off for Christmas, but you’ve still got to get a bunch of work done. You can’t take two weeks off and go out there and expect to get your timing right and all that.”

And game planning is not the only thing the coaches are doing at this time of the year.

“December is always the busiest month of the year,” Holgorsen explained. “You’ve got to have recruiting weekends, you’ve got to finish up school, you’ve got to keep them in shape, you’ve got to keep practicing to get time, but you don’t want to overkill an opponent as well. Just balancing everything is the biggest thing – keeping them tuned in.”

Clemson’s Dabo Swinney agrees.

“You just can’t go out there and overwork the guys,” he said. “You have to spend a lot of time working on yourself and challenge those young guys with our JV practices, post-practice; kind of keep some of the young guys out there and get some extra work. We’ll try and have a little fun, too, and make sure they get an opportunity to enjoy the experience, but you want to go down there and give yourself a chance to win a ballgame so you have to make sure you do a good job with your schedule.”

Consequently, there really is not a whole lot of time for both staffs to come up with a bunch of elaborate wrinkles for the bowl game. Any extra time is usually devoted to self-scouting to eliminate any tendencies acquired through the season.

“After 13 games you are who you are,” said Swinney. “Each team will look at their tendencies and maybe try and break some of those things. At the end of the day, you are who you are and it’s about execution and in a championship game like this, the team that makes the fewest mistakes and takes care of the ball is usually the team that has a chance to win it.”

Plus, both staffs will have a season’s worth of video tape to analyze, making it difficult to come up with a bunch of surprises.

“Sometimes coaches make the mistake of when they have too much time on their hands of coming up with stuff they think is going to work but it’s really not,” Holgorsen said. “Both coaching staffs are professional and are really good at what they do so I think we’re going to know what to expect from each other and then it’s about getting out there and playing smart football and defensively, you’ve got to stop people and make sure you don’t turn the ball over.”