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 that aired 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.”
TYREEK HILL OPENS UP ABOUT RIGORS OF FALL CAMP
So much has been said and written about Tyreek Hill throughout OSU’s fall camp.
None of those words, though, have come directly from Hill. The junior college transfer with track-star speed isn’t given media access per team rules.
So it was noteworthy when ESPNU aired its behind-the-scenes special on the Cowboy football team, as Hill was one of the first players to talk into the camera.
It was 6 a.m. Hill sat in on a bright orange table in the training room while his ankles were being wrapped.
“Day 14 or 15, I think,” Hill said. “I’m just tired right now, that’s all that is … we generally wake up at 5:30, and we don’t leave here ‘till like 7:45.”
Long days for Hill as he adjusts to the rigors of a Division-I program’s training schedule.
His former coach, Matt Miller at Garden City Community College (Kan.), said earlier this month there will be a learning curve for Hill this season; understanding the playbook, adjusting to the overall speed of the game, increased physicality.
But one thing Miller specifically mentioned, and was echoed by Cowboy players during fall camp, was Hill’s need to socially blend with the team.
“When he came in, (Hill) was kind of a shyer guy … but he’s opened up,” wide receiver David Glidden said. “I think he’s starting to feel really comfortable around here with his coaches and his other teammates. We’re trying to make him feel at home.”
Miller said Hill was the exact same way his first year at GCCC. But that didn’t last long.
“(Hill) is a bright young man that takes time to get used to his surroundings,” Miller said. “When he gets there, he doesn’t necessarily just jump into things. He’s probably more reserved. But he’s got a real fun personality. It’s going to come out, and coaches are going to wish for the days when Tyreek was being quiet.”
JAMEIS WINSTON TALKS OFF-FIELD ISSUES AND CONFIDENCE IN ESPN INTERVIEW
ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit recently sat down with FSU quarterback Jameis Winston for a segment called “Under Center,” in which Winston fielded questions about the off-field controversy he’s faced over the past year and his personal growth.
Herbstreit: Do you feel like these (off-field) experiences taught you anything?
Winston: “Of course. You can get better at everything in life. I know even those little kid mistakes. I paid for them. I apologized for them. I can’t do no more, especially if I want to be an NFL quarterback. If I want to be the next Russell Wilson, you know, the next Payton Manning. I want to let what I do on the football field, I want people to take opinions from that and not outside stuff.”
Herbstreit: Do you feel like you’re a role model? The responsibility that comes with that is pretty large.
Winston: “I want to be a role model. I want kids to look up to me. That’s what it’s about. The kids. I want to influence them to do the right thing and be the right person. Because that’s our future, those little kids.”
Herbstreit: Where does your confidence come from?
Winston: “I know you’re going to think I’m crazy, but I look at every football game like Little League football. In Little League football I did it, so why can’t I go out on the big stage and do it. So I’m always goinig to have this confidence in myself. The only thing I haven’t done yet is play on Sundays.”