STILLWATER, Okla. – Faced with their second bye week in the past month, No. 22 Oklahoma State finds itself in the unusual situation of perhaps having too much time off.
Coming off a thrilling 33-29 comeback victory over Kansas State last weekend and with their next contest coming up Oct. 19 against TCU, Oklahoma State (4-1, 1-1 Big 12) cannot afford another sub-par performance as it seeks its second Big 12 championship in three years. The Cowboys followed the last bye week with their worst outing of the season, a 30-21 loss at West Virginia on Sept. 28.
"I would rather be playing," said senior linebacker Caleb Lavey. "These bye weeks really throw you out of rhythm, but at the same time, it gives us an opportunity to fix what we need to be working on and gives us an opportunity to prepare a little more for TCU, who's a great team. But at the same time, you get out of your rhythm. But it's good to get the guys healthy, get a little more preparation, so overall I'm glad we're having the bye week."
Coach Mike Gundy pointed out that while he was following the same routine during this bye week as he did for the last one, he wasn't totally convinced it was the best approach.
"There are so many bye weeks now, I don't know what to do any more," Gundy said. "Do you keep them here, do you practice over the weekend, do you let them go? We used to have one bye week, now we got three. I've never been a big fan of it. I guess we watch ourselves, evaluate how we play in this next game. We have a plan of what we think is best, but we're running into so many bye weeks now, I don't think anybody knows what's best."
Gundy wasn't ready to hold the bye week, and the squad's activities during it, completely culpable for the West Virginia loss, so he did not alter anything this time. But he said he would be reviewing everything later.
"When you play bad, you think about why it happened," he said. "So, can you blame it on the bye week? I don't know. You certainly document what happens to you during your season and you go back and look, and if there's some consistencies, then there should be some changes. But there needs to be more reference points before we make a change."
From the players' perspective, Lavey felt there could be some subtle changes to the mental approach this time that might help the team focus.
"We definitely are going to have to push each other a little harder," said Lavey, who had seven tackles, a forced fumble and an interception against Kansas State last weekend. "Coming out of the last bye week, we might not have been fully prepared mentally. We had the game plan down, but we might have pushed ourselves a little bit harder and I think that's what we'll do (this week), hold each other accountable a little bit more and try to get as prepared as we can for TCU."
Senior running back Jeremy Smith believes it will help that the practices this week seem to be a little more intense than during the previous bye week.
"Me personally, I don't really like bye weeks, but I think this bye week is a lot better, we're just doing a lot more 1-on-1s in practice," said Smith, who rebounded from a disastrous showing at West Virginia to gain 56 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries against K-State. "It just keeps our game speed, keeps us in that mode, keeps us going. We just got to keep doing it and keep our minds focused on TCU so when we get out there, we'll be good to go."