Archive for Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Coaches sing praises of bye week

September 28, 2004


— Health improved, and mistakes were corrected. New wrinkles were added to the playbook, and everyone realized the stakes are going up.

Behold the powers of a bye week just before the start of conference play.

Well, that's the way it seemed Monday, according to the eight Big 12 Conference coaches whose teams sat on the last Saturday of September.

"For all the teams, it was a week of rest and hopefully preparations to find a better football team," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. "It was a pretty good week."

The combination of down time and the clean slate of an 0-0 league record infused coaches with the kind of exuberance last heard from them a month ago, before their openers.

Just listen to the chorus:

  • Nebraska's Bill Callahan: "We maxed out our 20 hours last week, that's for sure. ... I thought our team took a huge stride."
  • Iowa State's Dan McCarney: "We feel like we had a very productive open week. It allowed us to get done some things we needed to."
  • Kansas State's Bill Snyder: "The week off was probably favorable for us. We addressed some issues we had. ... The opportunity to deal with those issues was beneficial to our team."

Baylor was among the teams that played Saturday, yet coach Guy Morriss still managed to sing the praises of an off week. He noted that being idle the previous Saturday helped the Bears get their first victory of the season.

"We changed our routine and gave them an extra day off," he said. "The extra day of rest certainly didn't hurt them."

Colorado coach Gary Barnett was the least enthusiastic, saying only that his squad had "a pretty good week of work." The Buffaloes were derailed by the suicide and funeral of a former player, plus coaches were burdened by finally getting done things they'd been putting off.

"I need to plan better next year," Barnett said.

Texas Tech and Kansas opened conference play this past weekend with an exciting game. The Red Raiders trailed by 25 before rallying for a 31-30 victory. Tech erased a 21-0 deficit against TCU the previous week.

Coach Mike Leach hasn't found any similarities in the slow starts.

"If I had, we wouldn't sit here talking about school-record comebacks," he said. "By the same token, I'd rather have broken them than not."

Next up is a team that will be tougher to rally on: No. 2 Oklahoma.

Sooners coach Bob Stoops said his team spent part of last week studying Tech, but acknowledged they did "extra work on future opponents" -- presumably No. 4 Texas, their next foe.

"We just emphasized a few areas we could be better at," Stoops said. "Whenever (the bye) comes it's good. It gives you time to regroup and analyze a little bit. So it was positive."

Callahan said the core players worked on "improve-able" areas, while there was extra time for players who haven't played yet, including those being redshirted.

"We had developmental periods where coaches spend about 45 minutes devoted entirely to young players," he said. "We want to keep bringing them along."

At Kansas State, Snyder was pleased to see how devoted players were to working out their flaws.

"If you get that," he said, "you know you're making headway."

  • An $86 million facelift: Oklahoma State's stadium is going through a massive remodeling, getting a brick facade, more seats and more luxury suites.

"Everybody that's been in it says the accommodations are as plush ... as any professional venue," Cowboys coach Les Miles said. "This is easily on par with the very best."

Recruits certainly will get tours and be shown models of the finished project.

Miles doubts the building itself will lure players to Stillwater, but he figures it can't hurt.

  • Extra points: Just because Cedric Benson dominated at his Texas high school and has dreadlocks, UT coach Mack Brown insists Benson is unique. "Many people make comparisons of Cedric to Ricky Williams and Earl Campbell, but that's unfair," Brown said. "They are different running backs." ... With Texas A&M; coming off two stirring wins, the folks from Kansas State better bring ear plugs to College Station on Saturday night. "We hope that the noise level and spirit at Kyle Field will continue to be an advantage for us," Aggies coach Dennis Franchione said.

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