STILLWATER — The young crop of Oklahoma State football players who are set to play against No. 1 Florida State on Saturday don’t lack any motivation. The coaching staff has used the season opener at AT&T Stadium to push the Cowboys since winter conditioning.
But looming down the road is what some might call the “freshman wall” — a point in the year where those first-timers hit a speed bump during a long and straining season.
“We have great concern in that,” coach Mike Gundy said during an Aug. 19 press conference. “It usually happens in the middle of October.”
Gundy went on to say that at least eight freshmen will play against the Seminoles. Add that to the large group of underclassmen in starting roles for the first time, and it’s easy to understand why Gundy is anticipating a possible drop off.
“They don’t function very well,” Gundy said. “They have a tendency to miss some classes. Their results in the weight room drop. Then they recover a little bit in the last couple games of the year. I wish I knew what the ingredients were to keep that from happening.”
By Gundy’s estimation, that freshman wall could hit Oct. 18 when the Cowboys prepare to take on TCU in Fort Worth. Not ideal timing as OSU’s next three road games are at Kansas State, Baylor and OU.
So efforts have been made throughout the offseason to keep those freshmen from wearing down.
John Stemm, director of athletic training, was featured on ESPNU’s all-access look at the team Tuesday night.
“Coach Gundy has done a really good job this year cutting back our schedule,” Stemm said. “A lot of that has to do that we’re one of the youngest teams. So he was really afraid that if we pounded too hard that we would start to break. So far it’s been great, we’ve not had a lot going on.”