September 23, 2010

Off week comes at the right time

A week off couldn't come at a better time for Oklahoma State - not necessarily because of a tough schedule so far, but what is to come.

Going for another shot at primetime exposure in front of a national audience, the Cowboys will host Texas A&M in a Thursday night game next week. That means the start of Big 12 play for OSU and it could have meant a super-short prep week for a game against a divisional rival.

But with this week a bye, the Cowboys will have had 11 days off by the time the Aggies march into Orange Country. At this point, OSU has enjoyed a lighter week than normal and is five days out from the win over Tulsa. That means the team still has a week to rest up and prepare for the Aggies. That's something defensive coordinator Bill Young sees as a plus.

"We've got a couple people with some bumps and bruises and that gives them a chance to get their legs back," he said. "It's nice to have an open date since we're playing on a Thursday against Texas A&M. It's hard to play Saturday and come back on Thursday."

This is likely a better situation than last year, when OSU hosted Colorado only five days after playing Texas Tech. The Buffaloes also had a short week before coming to Stillwater. That game turned into a trap, as the hapless Buffs managed to scare the pistols off the Pokes before Brandon Weeden entered the game and saved what would become a Cotton Bowl season.

This time around, both the Pokes and Aggies will have a week and change to prepare for the Thursday night ESPN game. Fatigue shouldn't be an issue. That's an issue that bothered offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen. After all, while only three games have been played, the Cowboy athletes have been prepping since the spring with off-season conditioning and have taken part in routine practices nearly a month before the season started.

"Camp is long," Holgorsen said. "You go four weeks of camp and you do your best - especially when you're early in the process - which you've got to rep a lot to get better. Then you try to figure out if we're repping too much, are our legs dead and I think we've been a little bit dead-legged here lately. It's a long season and we can't be dead-legged all year. So it's the whole balance of getting the reps that you need but keeping them fresh. The bye week gives you an opportunity to continue to practice but also get your legs back."

After last week's win over Tulsa, head coach Mike Gundy said the team will practice three or four times before giving the players a couple of extra days off and some time for coaches to do other things.

"It always comes at a good time," Gundy said. "Good for the players to catch their breath. Good for the coaches to catch their breath, go home and spend some time with their families. Opportunity for us to get out on the road in recruiting and see some young players and get out there and find guys that can beat some of the guys out that are on our team."

The other bonus of this game being on a Thursday instead of a Saturday? The Cowboys have another made-for-TV game the following week against Louisiana-Lafayette, on Friday, Oct. 8th. That means the Pokes will have two more extended weeks coming up: next week before playing ULL and the week after heading into their first conference road game of the year at Texas Tech.

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