STILLWATER, Okla. – It isn't often a team coming off a 59-3 win talks about needing to utilize its upcoming bye week to improve, but for No. 12 Oklahoma State, their blowout victory over Lamar wasn't exactly a work of art.
With the Cowboys (3-0) getting next week off before starting Big 12 Conference play on Sept. 28 at West Virginia, they are eager to rest, regroup and resolve some issues that need to be cleaned up.
Even factoring in the controversy surrounding Oklahoma State this week after the Sports Illustrated series came out detailing allegations of improprieties with the football program between 2001 and 2011, the performance against a clearly inferior FCS opponent was somewhat sloppy at times.
"We did OK," said senior safety Daytawion Lowe, who recorded a team-high eight tackles against Lamar. "We made a lot of plays, but we got a lot of things we can fix, made a lot of mistakes. There's a lot of things that opponents can focus on by watching that film, but I would be proud of us because we fought and played hard, but we've got work to do. We can't be satisfied."
With the first of four idle Saturdays this season, coach Mike Gundy plans to take advantage of some additional practice time, while also allowing players a chance to heal up a bit before the meat of the Cowboys' schedule comes up.
"We'll take advantage of the bye week," Gundy said, "get three good practices in, take three days off, bring them back and get them focused for the next week, get three more good practices, have a run-through and then travel to West Virginia."
Feeling re-energized after a week off could benefit the Cowboys, because West Virginia (2-1), which is coming off a 41-7 win over Georgia State, plays Saturday against Maryland before the showdown at Milan Puskar Stadium the following week.
"It'll be big for us, we'll be able to stay fresh," said linebacker Caleb Lavey, who was named Big 12 defensive player of the week following a strong performance in Oklahoma State's season-opening 21-3 win over Mississippi State on Aug. 31. "It gives us extra time to work and prepare for West Virginia, who is a really tough team. It's an opportunity to fix mistakes we've made the past three weeks and help everyone get their legs underneath them."
And while OSU doesn't have any significant injuries to heal, the rest will do them all some good, both mentally and physically.
"I think a bye week is needed for the team," quarterback J.W. Walsh said. "We'll definitely enjoy it and get our guys that are bumped up a rest so they can come back and be ready to play."
Walsh, who was near-perfect the previous week in a 56-35 win over Texas-San Antonio to earn Big 12 offensive player of the week honors, was somewhat inconsistent Saturday against Lamar. He completed 17 of 30 passes for 181 yards and one touchdown, along with his first interception of the season that led to Lamar's only points of the night, a field goal at the end of the first half.
"I thought he was just average," Gundy said of his quarterback. "He wasn't sharp throwing the football, but those (receivers) made up for it, made some sharp catches. They all count, but I thought he had about four throws that weren't as good as they should have been, and maybe he wasn't quite as focused as he should have been."
Walsh is glad to have the break, which will enable him to work on refining some of the sloppiness issues that cropped up on Saturday.
"I think the bye week comes at a great time for us to really hone in on the little things and clean up some of the stuff that didn't look good," said Walsh, who also led OSU with 45 yards rushing on seven carries. "The more we get to work on stuff and tune our skills, the better we can be for conference play.'
With the toughest games of their schedule still to come, Oklahoma State hopes to continue building team chemistry while remaining grounded.
"We haven't accomplished anything yet, we haven't even started conference play," Lavey said. "We just need to maintain our humility and realize we haven't arrived yet so we can go into each game hungry, ready to play and excited. As of right now, we have a lot of work to do. We're going to use this bye week to improve and to fix our mistakes."