"Yeah, I mean you can see the whole team get better," said senior linebacker Caleb Lavey, one of the leading tacklers in the Big 12 when asked about the offense. "They're working and it is a good offense and a good plan. This off week gives them some more time to focus on different elements of their plan."
The off week practices also included plenty of what coaches like to call "good on good" work with the first offense and the first defense running more plays against each other, and the number two units doing the same.
It gives the defensive players a good look at the offense and whether they are making progress after two un-OSU like offensive games in the loss to West Virginia and the win over Kansas State.
Some of it is personnel, no doubt. Some could be planning and play-calling. One thing is certain, the offense has not been as fast and up tempo as one time discussed.
"They are a lot more crisp out there, seeing what we're in and making the necessary adjustments to gain some yardage on us," said linebacker Shaun Lewis, this week's Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week.
"That has been our identity over the years, even when Brandon Weeden was here. They got lined up and they got to going and they were functioning well. It carries over to this team and J.W. (Walsh) was watching Weeden operate that offense and it is almost a mirror offense."
At times it has been but not the past two weeks, at least for the most part. The two tempo drives against Kansas State covered 13 plays, 139 yards of ground, and just 3:51 total off the clock. Tempo can put your own defense in a bind, but as the Cowboys defenders reveal, it can put the opposing defense into plenty of agony too.
"It is really difficult because, first, you have to fight fatigue," explained Lewis. "Second, you have to fight the mental part of it and know your calls and know your adjustments and then be lined up and get ready to play."
"First of all it's exhausting and second of all it puts a strain on coaches and players with play calls," added Lavey. "You don't even have enough time to get the down and distance and to get the right call for the right personnel.
"When you're tired and they are tempo-ing you it makes it hard to get the play, communicate it to the rest of the defense, and then get lined up. It is a tremendous advantage for the offense."
Head coach Mike Gundy kept all his comments -- on the offense, on the practices, on the bye week -- very basic.
"We've worked on all of our basics and all of our fundamentals," he said. "We've worked hard on our basics, looking to get better."
Now is a time for the Cowboy players to get some brief rest and relaxation, and then is time to forge the identity of this season.
"It gives them time to be away and it doesn't matter much to us (coaches)," added Gundy. "The coaches will be out on the road recruiting starting Thursday night. The players last practice was this afternoon."
Our review of the bye week cannot solely be left to defensive players. Senior running back Jeremy Smith, who badly wants to see the offense and the running game kick into better gear, seems to feel the week and some added pace will help a lot.
"It gives you a better feel for the game," said Smith. "Once we keep catching people off guard and doing what we've been used to doing and catching defenses off guard then we can get some big plays to happen. As long as you can do that then you can do a lot of great things."
Great things are going to be needed for the Homecoming game against TCU, followed by trips to Iowa State, Lubbock and Austin, not to mention games with Baylor and Bedlam with OU. Great things will be a must the rest of the way.
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