Sunday Rewind: Bye Week Is Important

The thoughts from the head coach on Sunday weren't a lot different than they were on Saturday night. By the time Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy spoke with the media he had absorbed the video of the Cowboys 56-6 win over Grambling and seemed to have really witnessed a verification to what he felt he had seen standing on the Boone Pickens Stadium sidelines.

He also verified another thought, that while there is no opponent waiting for the Cowboys this next Saturday. How Gundy and his coaching staff handle this week from a practice and wellness standpoint could go a long way toward influencing the results of the next month of the season.

"I thought the defense played well," started Gundy in his postscript on the Grambling win. "They put more pressure on the quarterback, did over-run some plays, but they tackled better in space, and got a number of three-and-outs that allowed the offense to have the ball and take control of the game early.

"I was happy the offense minimized mistakes except for the one (fumbled snap) with Zac (Robinson) and center Andrew (Lewis) that I talked about last night," continued Gundy. "I thought that (Keith) Toston ran the ball well and gave us several big runs, the wide receivers made some nice plays on the ball, and then we got to play a bunch of players that have been working hard and deserved to play in the second half."

Now as for that off week or bye week. Usually a week kind of blown off by the fans but what happens on the field and in the training room this week is critical.

"We will practice two or three times this week and then make sure the players that need it get some rest," added Gundy.

"You've got to be careful (with injured players), but you still are going to practice. Anytime you have had more injuries you still have to practice. It is a physical game. I know we have to give some guys time off to rest and to heal, but we are going to practice."

Much like former Oklahoma State head coach Pat Jones, Gundy is fond of using open weeks to change a few things up, prepare a few more players to play big roles, and generally sharpen his team. That is a big reason for his preference to have the open week prior to Big 12 play.

It is hard to sharpen your team a lot when players of prominence such as wide receiver Dez Bryant (hamstring), running back Kendal Hunter (foot), and cornerback Perrish Cox (shoulder) are ailing and not likely to participate in practice and are day to day in respect to the game at Texas A&M on Oct. 10.

Gundy will have to hope the medical staff has a great bye week and work the players he has. The defense expects defensive end Jeremiah Price (thumb) back to practice this week.

As for the review of the newcomers making a positive display against Grambling, Gundy said it was an easy decision to take the redshirt off of Tulsa Union freshman Jeremy Smith. He felt there might be a need for another healthy back later in the season and Smith immediately went on three special teams.

The 160 yards on 15 carries and the kickoff returns were all positive. Gundy said he sees Smith continuing to help on special teams and the playing time against Grambling should help if he has to play a major role at running back here on out.

Gundy even cited the list of great backs that have been injured trying to get through a college season and how the physical play breaks a lot of them down, including many OSU backs and he even used the example of Adrian Peterson, who had some injury problems at OU.

Dameron Fooks showed up well and he likely gets the opportunity to play more. "You don't know what a young man is going to do until you put him out there and give him a chance to catch the ball," said Gundy.

"He did a nice job and we didn't know because there hasn't been a lot of balls thrown his way. When you have a receiver like Dez Bryant, you are going to throw to him every time you can. That is always going to be the case."

Yes, but quarterback Zac Robinson now has seen more things going on in the offense and should be more comfortable in his progressions.

The head coach did say that quarterback Brandon Weeden came in and played well. Gundy said he threw the ball well, ran the offense well for the most part, and made a few mistakes.

In a few other notes, Gundy was really happy that so many players including many scout teamers got on the field to get a taste of it. The entire second team offensive line played and that can't hurt, although Gundy wasn't overly excited about the first team in their second straight game with a five of Russell Okung, Noah Franklin, Andrew Lewis, Lane Taylor, and Brady Bond. "It was just okay," said Gundy. "It was pretty average, really."

The focus will not only be getting better and getting healthy, but also getting ready for Texas A&M, who Gundy also complimented.

"Good school and they have recruited well," said Gundy of the Aggies. "They have an off year last year and they are not going to drop football. They are going to compete with people in our league. They are doing a good job of coaching. It amazes me that people don't think a good school, that recruits well, can't really improve from one year and play really good football the next year."

Okay, get ready. Gundy said the players really don't want their injuries discussed. It may be a quiet week because the two most important things about this bye week will be 1) how the team is improving in preparing for conference play, and 2) how the team is healing. Both of those topics will receive little discussion from Gundy with the media and they are the central focus of the next 10 to 13 days.

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