North Texas Daily

Ill-timed bye week has football team watching

Ill-timed bye week has football team watching

September 05
11:43 2015

Reece Waddell | Senior Staff Writer

After a practice that head coach Dan McCarney called “one of the most competitive and spirited” he has seen since arriving at North Texas in 2011, McCarney was forced to address a topic he has admittedly dreaded for the past few months the first week bye.

McCarney adjusted his sunglasses, sighed for a second and, like many coaches, gave the most politically correct answer he could despite a tone of frustration resonating in his voice.

“We don’t have any choice,” McCarney said. “If you would have asked us where we wanted it, beginning, middle or end of the season, we would have told you anywhere but the beginning. But we’ve known about the bye for months now and what we do have is more time, not necessarily more practices, but more time to prepare ourselves for SMU.”

While most FBS teams take the field this week, North Texas will be at home on its only break of a grueling season before it even begins. This puts the Mean Green in the same position as five other FBS teams that will be forced to play 12 games in a row with Week 13 off.

The last time an FBS team was forced to play the entire season—12 games without a break, was 2012-2013. That year, five teams played without a bye, and none finished with more than four wins.

The NCAA has been slashing open dates over the last few years, and of the 128 FBS teams, 110 will have one fewer week in 2015 than they did in 2014. That means 86 percent of FBS teams will lose a week of preparation, rest and time to recover from injury.

McCarney said the toughest obstacle for the team during its 12-week marathon will be to keep everyone healthy and in a positive mindset.

“The biggest thing is going to be stay within ourselves,” McCarney said. “Injuries, you know, they happen. But Coach [Lewis] Caralla has done a great job as the strength and conditioning coach, and he’s got our guys in some of the best shape of their lives. He will be a huge asset to our team down the stretch.”

Nearly 300 days will have passed by the time North Texas suits up against SMU. Offensive coordinator Mike Canales said the team is ready to finally get back into action.

“There’s only so much you can do against yourself,” Canales said. “Our guys know that and I’m sure our guys are tired of lining up against each other.”

Sophomore linebacker Calvin Minor confirmed Canales’ thoughts.

“We’ve been hitting each other since the spring really,” Minor said. “After a while, you just get tired of it. We want some fresh blood. We all do.”

The desire for game action comes as no surprise, especially since North Texas had a down season last year following a bowl win in 2013.

Senior defensive back and captain Kenny Buyers said the locker room has been anxious the past week and has actually put up a countdown clock that slowly ticks down the days to the season opener at SMU.

“I know I’m ready, and I know my teammates are ready,” Buyers said. “Last week we came in and the clock said 20 days to the SMU game and I was like, ‘Man that’s a long time.’ We want to get out there and get the taste of last season out of our mouth.”

McCarney said the team practiced like normal this week but wouldn’t push the envelope in terms of time spent on the field. He said the team will have a few walkthroughs and will be cognizant of everyone’s limits.

“These next two weeks, it isn’t about who is toughest or can be out there the longest,” McCarney said. “Our guys know the schedule and we mindfully put it together. I think they will be happy with what they are doing.”

A season with an opening week bye will present a unique set of challenges that has crippled teams in the past. But the Mean Green is taking the situation and stride and already have their sights set on the big picture.

“We aren’t going to let it affect us,” Canales said. “We won’t have that mindset as coaches and our kids won’t have that mindset. We’re going to go out there, try to win games and get back in a bowl game. That’s the goal.”

Featured Image: Marcus Smith smiles during an interview at the North Texas Athletic Center on Tuesday, August 25, 2015. Dylan Nadwodny | Intern Photographer

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