1) Heal up
This is the most obvious objective of any bye week. The Longhorns have mostly been able to avoid catastrophic injuries, with arguably the biggest coming to linebacker Demarco Cobbs, who was rotating with the first team at linebacker. His recovery is going well, and he could be ready in time for Iowa State. Other major injuries include Garrett Gilbert's season-ending shoulder injury, and a recent set-back to receiver John Harris, who will miss the Iowa State game. But other than that, the Longhorns are largely just nicked up, and the added week allows the players to get a little extra rest and get that extra treatment before heading back into a normal routine next week.
2) Work on fundamentals
Another big coaching cliché, the bye week allows teams to take a break from the intensity of putting in a game-plan and focus on fixing their fundamental weaknesses. UCLA had some success with a rushing quarterback, and this week the Longhorn defense can work on its containment plans, especially with mobile Iowa State quarterback Steele Jantz coming up. Notice that David Ash isn't quite making the right reads on his option runs? Nothing is too small to try and fix with the essentially "extra" practice time between games.
3) Add in specific opponent packages
Teams often use this time period to work on a trick play or two for their next opponent. In the case of Texas, with the Oklahoma showdown looming two weeks away, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Texas work on a series of plays that could be employed in that game as well. True, the main focus will be on Iowa State. But with no opponent on tap this week, it wouldn't be strange to see a few Sooner-specific plays … after all, it isn't like Texas has to put in its Iowa State plan this week. Instead, they'll put in a few Iowa State specific packages, and potentially some plays that could also be used against Oklahoma.
4) Build on successes
The Longhorn quarterbacks went a combined 15-for-18 in their victory over UCLA. Now, it's time to expand what each player can do. Case McCoy's ability to extend the play allows for some delay routes and longer-developing pass plays. And Ash's package seems to get bigger by the day. Add in more time for young players like Malcolm Brown and Jaxon Shipley to expand their roles and get more comfortable with the offense, and Texas should come out of the bye week in a stronger position, especially with such a bevy of young players.
5) Prepare for a well-coached team
Talking with multiple Big 12 coaches, the consensus seems to be that the Cyclones are the Big 12's worst team in terms of talent. But much like former North foe Kansas State (remember, there are no divisions now), the Cyclones have played above their ability level thanks to great coaching. Paul Rhoads has helped the Cyclones accelerate past their talent gap, posting a 15-13 record in Ames and grabbing victories over six current and former Big 12 teams (including wins over both Nebraska and Colorado). But now Rhoads faces a unique challenge: preparing for a team over the course of a bye week. That's right, in both 2009 and 2010, the Cyclones somehow avoided having a single bye week, meaning that this marks the first time the third-year coach will have an extra week to prepare. Some great coaches struggle coming out of bye weeks. It messes with their routines. Still others excel with the extra time. Which one will Rhoads be? And which category will Mack Brown and his new staff fall into?