Football uses bye week to rest, heal
The 2016 football season has been a grind for the Cougars.
Having one of the latest byes in college football and multiple shortened weeks due to Thursday night matchups, the team’s fortitude has been tested week in and week out. The grueling schedule has contributed to an ever-growing injury report, making the week of recovery much anticipated among players and coaches.
A well-rested and rejuvenated head coach Tom Herman took to the podium Monday morning ready to get back to work.
“Our guys are as healthy and as fresh as we’ve been in a long, long time, which is very much needed,” Herman said. “We were running on fumes the last few ball games and that stretch there in October.”
The Cougars have battled through stretches of four games in 19 days as well as having five games in September. Herman said that the team used the week to get off of their feet and “recharge the batteries” heading into the season’s final stretch.
With the exception of light workouts and rehabilitation, the players enjoyed a week filled with free time and relaxation.
The team returned to practice Sunday night and impressed Herman with their energy coming back from a week filled with downtime.
“I was excited about what I saw (Sunday),” Herman said. “We had a short, less than an hour long practice in shorts, but the guys were flying around — very energetic, very positive and very confident. I like where we’re at.”
Herman said that the team will have shorter practices this week to ensure sufficient health and energy comes kickoff Saturday.
Although the team already has two unexpected losses on their resume, the blemishes have not deterred the unit from treating each week as an entire season. Herman said that the Cougars will use the doubts placed on it as motivation to make progress.
“You always like being the underdog. You like being disrespected,” Herman said. “You like the us-against-the-world mentality, because it really, really draws the bond within that locker room a lot closer.”
The Cougars have now won 13 games in a row inside TDECU Stadium, which is the third-longest active streak in the nation.
A combination of being refreshed from bye week rest and being able to play two of their final three games in their home stadium should benefit the Cougars.
Herman is optimistic about the team’s remaining home games.
“Winning is very hard, and winning on the road is even harder,” Herman said. “Our guys are undefeated at home, and that’s not by accident. They get pretty cranked up to play in our stadium and they should.”