“I didn’t realize how tired and beat up we were until we had the open week. When you’re playing, you don’t ever think you should be tired, but when you have a chance to rest you realize how tired you really are,” Peveto said.
Peveto said the bye allowed the Demons to rest and heal injuries. It also gave coaches a chance to evaluate how players were responding to practices.
The result was a reduced workout load headed into Saturday’s homecoming mactchup against Nicholls State.
“We just practiced Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, then gave them off Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It was obvious they needed that,” Peveto said.
With the time to rest, both players and coaches agree that the results have been positive.
“Last week was a good week for us. We got a lot of guys healthy,” team captain Louis Hollier said.
“The level of intensity has been high and we’re taking our remaining four games one by one,” team captain Cortez Paige said.
“We’ve had great practices. We really needed the open week. We’ve had a bit of a tradition of winning after we have an off week, so we’re hoping to keep that alive. We’re looking forward to playing Nicholls at home, especially since it’s homecoming,” captain Wade Williams said.
“We’ve had a great two weeks. The thing we never do is panic. Our kids have rebounded. They’re focused. We’ve got to win games and we will. We’ve challenged some of them and they’ve really stepped up,” Peveto said.
Among the changes the Demons have implemented in practice is one that may not sit well with traditionalists: playing music.
“We’ve been playing music at practice, which a lot of the big college teams are doing now. A&M is doing it. Oregon is doing it. It’s sort of the new, en vogue thing. It keeps the players upbeat. It’s amazing what it does for them as far as mindset,” he said.
The benefits to having music playing at practice go beyond tempo, Peveto said.
“It really helps them focus. With that loud music, they really have to pay attention to what you’re saying. Once the music starts, that means the instructional part is over and they’ve really got to focus on what coaches are telling them.”
The Demons are hoping their changes pay off as they prepare to face Southland Conference rival Nicholls State. Not only is the game homecoming for Northwestern, but it marks the battle for “the real NSU.”
“We’ve got this thing with Nicholls, every year we play to see who is the ‘real’ NSU. There’s a wooden trophy. We’re going to have special NSU stickers on our helmet,” Peveto said.
Though Nicholls only has one win on the season, Peveto says they should not be underestimated as opponents.
“Nicholls is a one win team that is pretty good. They put up 300 yards against Central Arkansas in the first half. They’re a very good first-half team, and we’re going to have to play a complete game to beat them.”
Northwestern will kick off against Nicholls Saturday at 6 p.m. in Turpin Stadium. Homecoming festivities will be held prior, during and after the game.