While former NIU head coach Dave Doeren has been gone for nearly a month, there are still many things to take away from his style of coaching.
One of the biggest factors that contributed to NIU’s success and to putting a stamp on Doeren as a coach was his aggressive play-calling and his tendency to go for it in fourth down situations.
Obviously, the players are a huge component of this as well, for if they didn’t convert on certain third down play-calls or didn’t attain short yardage on fourth downs, it would look like bad coaching on his part.
However, during the season, both coaches and players found success more often than not. On the season, NIU led the MAC in third down conversion percentage, good enough for 17th in the NCAA, and was the No. 2 team in the MAC on fourth down conversion, putting them at No. 5 in the NCAA.
With the present head coach, Rod Carey, being a hire of Doeren’s, they obviously shared common ground. With Doeren having the final say, but Carey drawing up plays, there is a certain level of harmony with those two aspects.
Senior wide receiver Martel Moore believes that his coach will be just as aggressive in his play calling come game night.
“I believe he will, he always has plays written out,” Moore said. “Doeren always said let’s go for it, so he [Carey] always had the play right there that we need to run. I think we’re gonna have the same mentality this week.”
I think that NIU will find itself in positions where it will be forced to make tough decisions. The ability to perform the plays is one matter, but the coach first making a decision is the other key matter.
In a game like this, the first BCS game in the history of not only NIU but the entire conference, I believe you let it all hang out there.
I’m not saying you need to play out of your skill-set, or take crazy risks, but small calculated risks that are achievable with the talent on the field will be necessary.
No one likes to look back at a missed opportunity, or say that they wish they could have done something else.
Recently, when asked if he will be aggressive with his play calling come game night, Carey offered up a simple answer:
“Play to win.”
Take it any way you want, but I think aggression has gotten NIU here, and aggression will be necessary for one last time this season.