STILLWATER — Mike Gundy examined his Oklahoma State team after the Cowboys' shocking loss at West Virginia in late September and came to this difficult realization:
This all can't be fixed at once.
“You have to decipher and break down how much you can improve each week,” Gundy said, stressing that the Cowboys only have two true practices each week, “because you can't look as poor as we did (in Morgantown) and then come out the next week and look good.”
In most of the sports world, that's fine. The goal isn't to be playing your best in the season's first month; it's to be playing your best at the end in preparation for a postseason run. But the current setup of college football — which gives us arguably the most exciting regular season in sports — makes it so there's less reward for growth throughout the season and a higher demand to be in top form for Week 1 and beyond.
So maybe that loss to West Virginia will still haunt the Cowboys come December. But OSU has used a steady, week-by-week process since that game to improve during its six-game winning streak.
Just in time for a stretch run that has already featured three November wins, including two on the road against ranked opponents. And just in time for Baylor and Bedlam.
“We said, ‘We're gonna get this done next week. And we're gonna get accomplished next week. And this accomplished the next week,'” said Gundy, recalling his staff's plan after the West Virginia loss. “And then hope we can win (the games in the meantime).
“And then a month later, we've got a chance to be a little bit better. That's where we're at right now.”
The offense, of course, needed the biggest overhaul. That's been new territory for seniors like receiver Tracy Moore, who recognized the unit's ups and downs, and offensive lineman Parker Graham, who admitted it all didn't come together as quickly as they would have liked or are used to.