Early in the 2012 season, Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops lamented the fact the Sooners had both of their bye weeks for the season in the month of September alone. The Sooners had bye weeks sandwiched around a home game with Kansas State Sept. 22, a game the Sooners lost 24-19 to the Wildcats.
Now, it appears having both bye weeks in the first month of the season is beginning to catch up with the Sooners.
When Oklahoma takes the field in Fort Worth on Saturday, it will be playing its ninth consecutive game without a break of any kind. Throw in the fact the last two games against West Virginia and Oklahoma State have lasted four hours and went to overtime, respectively, and this is one tired bunch of players.
"It is draining and exhausting to play in those games and it is hard to get back up for practice and to forget about that game and move on to the next opponent," OU quarterback Landry Jones said.
Jones added while it's been difficult to push forward each week through the aches and pains, the every week schedule is just part of college football.
"This last game we had 103 plays on offense so that's a lot of plays for an offense to run," Jones said. "I know some of the big guys were tired after the game for sure; so was I.
"Yes, it is physically taxing but that is one thing about college football. It's the next game and you have to get up and prepare and go."
Not only are the Sooners tired, but the small injuries have begun to pile up as well. The Sooners lost offensive lineman Daryl Williams for the rest of the regular season against West Virginia, leaving an already thin line even thinner. Saturday against Oklahoma State, defensive end David King suffered an ankle injury and is now questionable for this week's game against TCU. Linebacker Frank Shannon is in the same boat, and cornerback Julian Wilson had to be helped off the field twice against the Cowboys.
The Sooners are hurting, and Stoops said it's been tough making sure players are getting the most out of practice, while also making sure players recover from the previous week's game and stay fresh for the upcoming game.
"It is challenging," Stoops admitted. "We are still a little bit banged up and fighting through it. You just have to do the best you can to manage it this week and get them to the game and give ourselves an opportunity."
As for the players themselves, there are many things they do on a weekly basis in order to stay fresh.
"A lot of cold tub and sleep," defensive tackle Casey Walker said. "Weekends, if we do get some time on the weekends, just resting. I hang out and stuff like that as well, but just resting so I'm ok for next week."
Wide receiver Justin Brown said his methods are pretty similar to those of Walker, learned over four years of playing college football.
"Ice tube and stretching, just trying to take care of your body basically," Brown said. "That's where the maturity level comes in and you just have to know what you have to do to get ready for the next game. You just have to do the little things to get your body ready."
Brown and Walker said the past two weeks haven't been any harder to recover from than any other week, and that the intensity of practice hasn't changed much since the season started, even with playing nine consecutive weeks.
There won't be anyone happier about the end of the regular season than the OU players, but until the clock hits all zeroes against TCU, the Sooners will have to push through the pain and fatigue, no matter how tired they are.