Players, especially quarterbacks, often talk about staying engaged during practice by going through “mental reps,” or imagining themselves and what they would do in a specific play, even though they are not the one running it on the field.
Oklahoma State's J.W. Walsh had to do that when he was the second-team quarterback. And in recent weeks, Wes Lunt has had to use that technique while recovering from a left knee injury sustained against Louisiana-Lafayette on Sept. 15.
So how is Lunt at the mental rep?
“I'm going to guess he's pretty cerebral and he understands and he pays attention,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said. “He doesn't talk much. It's really hard for me to say, but I would guess that he stays with it pretty good, because I know he studies tape.
“I felt like that he studied tape like he was going to play against Texas, so that would be a sign that he's in tune pretty good.”
Lunt's status for Saturday's game against Kansas is uncertain. If he is unable to play, Walsh will start for the second consecutive game.
EVAN EPSTEIN READY FOR EIGHT GAMES IN EIGHT WEEKS
Conference realignment is largely to blame for the scheduling quirk that gave OSU two byes in a three-week period.
That means the Cowboys don't have any more weekends off — which usually allows players to travel home to visit their families or simply take some time to relax. Instead, they will play eight games in eight weeks to finish the season.
Count center Evan Epstein as a guy who is looking forward to getting back into a routine.
“I don't like bye weeks as much as other guys,” Epstein said. “I think that kind of takes you out of a flow that you end up getting into. We're so used to our schedule, and I think when you have an eight-week stretch (of games), it kind of helps out.
“You've just got to make sure you stay healthy and stay mentally in the game.”
The two bye weeks did benefit Epstein's health, however. He injured his ankle late in OSU's game against Arizona and missed the ULL contest. But he returned to start against Texas and said Monday the ankle feels fine.
“Honestly, if you're going to get injured, I probably got injured at the greatest time of the entire season,” Epstein said. “So I'm glad to have got that out of the way and move on from that.”
GUNDY, LAVEY PROUD OF RUN DEFENSE
The OSU defense has come under criticism early in the season, most notably the pass defense against Arizona and Texas.
But Gundy has said he has been proud of the way the run defense — a unit that ranks 36th in the nation (121.25 yards allowed per game) — has performed thus far.
And finding success in that part of the game has been fun for Caleb Lavey, a middle linebacker who prides himself on being in the right spot on the field at the right time.
“You watch enough film, you kind of know what they're doing on the run,” Lavey said. “And it's just that aggression, ready to just get the ball out and fight. That's one of my favorite games is the downhill run.
“Everyone's fired up to get dirty down in the trenches and play the run.”
OPPONENT WATCH: NEW KICKER FOR KANSAS?
Kansas coach Charlie Weis has been tinkering with personnel moves recently — the Jayhawks practiced without seniors Sunday — in light of KU's 1-3 start.
Could one change come at kicker?
Weis suggested during his weekly radio show Monday night that he may use a different kicker against OSU. Ron Doherty has made five of his 10 field-goal attempts this season and is just 1-of-5 from distances longer than 30 yards.
“I think the one thing you'll see is we're gonna get some other specialists involved in the game,” Weis said. “That's the way you try to improve it. And that won't be the only position.”