Oklahoma State's bye week practices are often about basic fundamentals, with the Cowboys setting aside about 20 minutes per session to prepare for their next opponent, TCU.
And coach Mike Gundy had high praise for the Horned Frogs following Wednesday's workout.
“They will be the most challenging team that we've played up until this point in all three phases,” Gundy said.
Gundy highlighted the Horned Frogs' skill players and ability to make plays on special teams. Running back B.J. Catalon leads the Big 12 in kick return average (28.7 yards per return) and ranks seventh in the league in all-purpose yards (110.4 per game).
But TCU's season has already featured a fair share of disappointment. The Horned Frogs once stood as a Big 12 contender, with two quality quarterbacks returning and a defense that could dominate.
Then defections and injuries hit — including serious ones to starting quarterback Casey Pachall and reigning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Devonte Fields — and the Horned Frogs sit 2-3, albeit with a chance to feel much better about themselves, hosting Kansas on Saturday in Fort Worth.
“We knew what we were getting into,” said TCU coach Gary Patterson. “We knew what LSU and Oklahoma were going to be like. Texas Tech was a bit of a surprise. They played well.
“We're still very close to being able to win some ball games. The kids are playing hard. Somebody asked me about the defense yesterday. I like them because they like each other, and they play hard for each other. Offensively, if you look back over the last three seasons, we've started slow each year. You just have to get ready to go.”
Statistically, the story isn't much better for the Frogs. They rank No. 101 in passing yards per game (193.2), 97th in rushing yards (128.2) and 75th in scoring (28.0).
“For me, it's not my first rodeo,” Patterson said. I've been through all this before. The worst thing that could happen is for people to panic. We're in a society of instant success. At the end of the season, we'll see where the chips fall.
“You just have to understand there are a lot of different things that add up to everything that goes on. No panic here. That doesn't mean I'm happy. Everything usually goes down from the top. Let's go see if we can find a way to beat Kansas.”
WITH RECEIVERS OUT, DON'T EXPECT TO SEE TRUE FRESHMAN RASHAAD SAMPLES
OSU was down three rotation receivers against Kansas State, as Blake Jackson, Austin Hays and Blake Webb sat out with injuries.
Was there ever any thought of burning the redshirt year of four-star speedster Ra'Shaad Samples and throwing him into the mix?
Not really, Gundy said.
“In most cases, we would prefer to not pull redshirts unless we feel like that guy's gonna be a full-time starter or big contributor,” he said, “because you're already in Game 6.”
Instead, look for John Goodlett and C.J. Curry to see more snaps if Jackson, Hays and/or Webb continue to miss time.
HARGIS TAKES STAB AT SPORTS ILLUSTRATED AT CONFERENCE
While speaking at the Governor's Energy Conference in Tulsa Wednesday, OSU president Burns Hargis opened his panel session by saying he hadn't been too busy lately.
One notable activity? Canceling a subscription to a certain magazine.
The magazine he was alluding to, of course, is Sports Illustrated, which last month published a five-part investigative series alleging multiple examples of misconduct inside the Cowboy program. OSU is currently in the middle of an independent review of the allegations.
The comment drew applause from the crowd.
Hargis also said he was looking for some offense, referring to the Cowboys' struggles on that side of the ball during the early part of conference play.