Here’s what the Cougar players are doing this bye week

PULLMAN – What do the Cougar players do during a bye week? As a former defensive back at Washington State the previous two seasons, let me tell you.

Sunday night's practice was cancelled due to the assistant coaches' recruiting trips -- which was great for any players banged up or battling through some minor dings. The assistant coaches left Sunday and are on the recruiting trail Monday and Tuesday. The first practice of the week will be Wednesday, and will continue each day through at least Saturday.

The Cougar football players will utilize the down time before Wednesday's session to regroup and regain some health before they host Oregon on Oct. 1.

The team lifted weights Sunday morning and will be back in the weight room again on Tuesday and Thursday this week.

Every day there’s a an afternoon practice there are also player position meetings. So the Cougs will have the first meeting this week with their position coach on Wednesday, rather than the normal Tuesday.

Bye week practices, meanwhile, are a little different from the typical in-season practices.

The biggest difference is that the Cougar coaches place more time and focus into areas that need the most attention.  Coaches have the freedom during the bye week to get back to teaching and working on the fundamentals, in sessions designed to keep the players fresh by not putting a lot of stress on their bodies.

It’s also a great opportunity for all the coaches to develop certain aspects of their units that they feel haven’t played up to expectations or standards thus far.

Special teams are an area that gets extra practice attention as well during the bye week -- not because they are underperforming, but because the bye week allows for special teams coach Eric Mele and the other WSU coaches, and players, to really comb through and go over every detail regarding technique, alignment and assignments.

On top of that, Thursday night football is typically an everyday event during the bye week. The young players will get much more live action during the bye than they do in a normal game week, as they continue to build their film resumes. 

There are a lot of young and/or inexperienced players that have a chance to rise up and get some reps in the games to come this season. We saw some great things from a handful of players during garbage time against Idaho,  including QB Tyler Hilinski, WR C.J. Dimry and OL Fred Mauigoa, and they’ll have additional chances to shine this week. (Dimry is pictured above with Kyle Sweet).

It didn't present itself this way in the offseason but this bye week coming when it has turned out huge for the 1-2 Cougs -- as they try to pick up the pieces that just weren’t all in sync in the non conference slate.

Now is the time to truly solidify the Cougs’ 2016 identity because once the bye week ends, on paper, it looks like an uphill battle to post a second consecutive winning season. Even the always-sunny Bill Moos on his radio show on Monday was focused on just getting to six wins and bowl eligibility.

The Cougs are looking to post consecutive wins over Oregon for the first time since the ’02 and ‘03 seasons.

RELATED STORY: Recapping Bill Moos' Monday radio show

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