November 16, 2008

Sunday Conversation: A week off

The 2008 season has gone better than just about anyone expected, with Oklahoma State sporting a 9-2 record with one game yet to play.

But before the Cowboys get to that one game, they get a brief respite in the form of a bye week. They always spark debate as to whether they're valuable to a team, a waste of time or don't affect them either way.

What does head coach Mike Gundy think of them?

"I don't know anymore if off weeks at a certain time of the year are good or bad," he said. "I think they're really good for the coaches because it gives them a chance to catch their breath and spend some time with their families."

Maybe so, but the topic usually centers on the players and what a stoppage does to them after so many weeks of competition.

"With the players, there's all this discussion about momentum and you're playing good or not playing good or you're needed to get some guys a little bit of rest," Gundy said. "So I'm not sure what's right or wrong anymore. I just know that's the way the schedule is and we can't change it."

One area where everyone seems in agreement about a positive a bye week brings is in the injury department. Over the course of a season, football players get banged up in practice and real games and sometimes it can mount up. In the case of the Cowboys, this bye week seems to be coming at the right time. In the win over Colorado, several Pokes got roughed up, including one player who has missed significant time this season, Brandon Pettigrew. He had a couple of fingers jammed in Boulder. Gundy said the week off will benefit any player who has been bitten by the injury bug.

"That's always a plus to get guys fresh and give them a chance to catch up academically and just be a college student for a week," he said. "Those things are always good. Kendall Hunter, I don't know how serious his injury is. I first thought it was a quad contusion but I later found out it wasn't that. So we'll just have to wait and see how he comes out."

While the players enjoy the week off, the coaches won't get as much time to rest. Gundy said they coaching staff will hit the recruiting trail on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

As said before, this season has gone better than just about anyone (not sporting super-orange shades with orange lenses) had predicted. Nine wins at OSU is the exception and considering many preseason pundits had the Cowboys winning 6-8 games, it's tough to not be excited about what has transpired in Stillwater.

So how does a coach keep his players in line when expectations are exceeded?

"They're handling it pretty well," Gundy said. "I think with, just in my opinion, what we do is we don't try to pull any wool over their eyes - just tell them the truth. You've won nine games, you played terrible at Tech, other than that you guys have probably played as well as anybody in the country, week in and week out.

"It's difficult to play well 11 weeks in a row and now we have a 12th game coming up. That's one of the greatest challenges for the coaching staff, in my opinion, to keep them playing well throughout the season. So we tell them this is where we're at, this is why you've gotten from this point and this is what you need to do to stay there and hopefully they buy into it."

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