Eight of the Big 12 Conference teams have a bye this week to prepare themselves for the rigors of conference play beginning next week, with Baylor, Kansas, Texas and Texas Tech playing Saturday.
The Jayhawks host the Red Raiders in the conference opener.
The Big 12 coaches said Monday during their teleconference that the bye is a huge help for their teams.
Texas had a bye last week and though Longhorns coach Mack Brown would prefer to get the bye close to midseason, Texas will again get a week off Nov. 20 to prepare for its game with Texas A&M.
“We want to have one near midseason to help with injuries,” Brown said. “Last year, we had one early, after the opener and this year we had it after only two games. But you have to take what you get and we now will play a lot of games without a break.”
The goal of getting healthy and refreshed during the off week is one of the main reasons Nebraska’s Bill Callahan enjoys the bye now, rather than later in the season, which was what he was accustomed to in the NFL.
“In the NFL, sometimes you had it the third week of the season, sometimes in week seven, eight or nine,” Callahan said. “So I’m used to it any way, but I like it earlier in the season, it gives a chance to recover physically and get some other guys healthy.”
Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, though, said he is pleased the Red Raiders jump straight into conference play. He said his team is playing well and he doesn’t want a week off after its 70-35 win against TCU.
“I’m glad to be playing, we’re in a rhythm right now and I hope we can maintain it,” Leach said.
Missouri and Colorado have the week off before playing each other on Oct. 2 in Columbia.
SPECIAL TEAM STRUGGLES: Extra points and field goals have been a major struggle for college teams this season and the trend continued this weekend as No. 13 Louisiana State lost to No. 9 Auburn 10-9 after missing an extra point.
Those struggles have changed the way Brown watches games. Brown caught as many games as he could on television during his bye week.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many missed extra points,” Brown said. “I used to be a guy who flips. Now, rather than flip after scores, I’ll stay and watch.”
Oklahoma State coach Les Miles said he can’t imagine the struggles coming as a surprise to those teams.
“We spend a lot of time kicking and I can imagine everyone in the profession spends time evaluating the position,” Miles said. “After the guy missed three kicks, I can’t imagine it was a surprise. I just hope it doesn’t happen to us.”
RUNNING WILD: Oklahoma State’s Vernand Morency ranks second in the NCAA in rushing with 187 yards per game. Ryan Moats of Lousiana Tech is averaging 198.33. Morency’s play has helped the Cowboys slowly integrate redshirt freshman Donovan Woods at quarterback. Woods has attempted only 27 passes through three games, completing 11 for 192 yards.
Still Miles said he has been pleased with Woods’ development.
“I think Donovan is capable and his progress has been good,” Miles said. “With age and comfort in the offense, he will just continue to improve exponentially.”
WEEKLY HONORS: Darrent Williams of Oklahoma State was named Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week for the second straight week. After sharing the honor with Antonio Perkins of Oklahoma, Williams earned the honor again with a career-high 162 punt return yards.
Kansas State’s Darren Sproles ran for 292 yards in the Wildcats’ 40-20 win against Louisiana-Laffayette and earned top offensive player honors. The 292 yards set a new school record, topping Sproles’ 273 yards against Missouri last season.
Erik Mayes of Texas A&M was named Defensive Player of the Week after 10 tackles, one interception, a tackle for a loss and a sack against Clemson.