After suffering through a long month of practices in stifling humidity, the Oklahoma State football team could not be more thrilled to get their season underway.
With kick-off rapidly approaching, the focus of the team has shifted from rigorous camp workouts to the film room and game planning for Saturday.
“We already went through the physical preparation in two-a-days and camp,” Cornerback Andrew McGee said. “Most of it now is just the mental aspect.”
Although the coaching staff has seen some of the best workouts of preseason as of late, they are focused on avoiding injuries as the Washington State game approaches.
“They were flying around at practice last night,” defensive coordinator Bill Young said, “but we will have some shortened practices this week because we are more concerned about getting their legs back.”
Short practices may relax some players, but Coach Mike Gundy plans to make it a point that the team stays sharp during this important week.
“It is still a big week of preparation for us,” Gundy said. “It is very important that we stay focused and have a good week of practice to get ready for Saturday.”
As the practices get lighter and the game gets closer, the energy level around this team has clearly risen.
“The closer you get to game time the more excited you get,” defensive tackle Shane Jarka said. “We are just focused and getting ready to hit somebody else instead of each other.”
With an entirely new spread attack under offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen, game planning has been more complex than in recent years. However, that does not concern most players because they believe all the repetition will have them ready come game time.
“By the time Saturday is here, we should know (the offense) like the back of our hand,” quarterback Brandon Weeden said.
With all the work and time this team has put in over the last month, they have developed a special bond that could go a long way in helping them succeed.
“We really have become a family over the last 30 or so practices,” McGee said. “One of the biggest things we have accomplished is team unity and brotherhood.”
Skeptics may question this team's experience and talent, but team chemistry is a strong point up and down this roster.
“There is cohesion between the players because we have spent so much time together and went through so much,” Jarka said.
In such a pivotal year for this football program, it is important to know that this unit is coming together on and off the field and working towards a singular goal.
That goal is winning as many games as possible to keep their names in the conversation as a big time program.
The first step to achieving that goal is Saturday, when all the hard work and preparation will be put on display.