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OGDEN — Bye weeks are both a blessing and a curse in college football.
For teams on winning streaks, the bye week can potentially destroy oh-so-valuable momentum. However, for teams on losing streaks, the bye week can provide the team a break from the struggle and refresh the team’s energy.
Weber State is on a five-game losing streak to open the season, and the Wildcats are using their bye week to refresh their outlook on the rest of the season. But the team is also trying to accomplish several other goals.
Weber State coach Jay Hill say the main focus of the bye week is to continue working.
“On a bye week, you want to get ahead of your opponent,” he said. “We try to get a good 30, 35 periods in this week with our starters, and this week we got in about 40 periods because we felt we had to make up some ground."
Also, Hill said health is imperative.
“You’re also trying to get your legs back fully; you’re trying to get your injured guys back,” he said. “There is a lot of guys we have sat this week so we can get them fully healthy. But you’ve still got to get better, so it’s a fine line.”
The players certainly enjoy the opportunity to get healthy. Wildcats running back Bo Bolen said the bye week is a good time to return to preseason form, health-wise.
“I like to let my health recover a little bit, as much as it can,” he said. “I think the coaches have done a good job of lightening practice up, but at the same time making it a lot more focused. Making sure we’ve got to get the work done, but at the same time, not going as hard as we normally do.”
One of the other focuses for players during a bye week is academics. With players practicing and traveling during game weeks, it can be tough for players to maintain their grades.
Weber State safety Josh Burton said he uses off-weeks to both catch up and work ahead in his classes.
“The bye week helps a lot with school work,” he said. “It helps us a lot with work that we have to make up, or even tests that we have to make up. Teachers give us chances to make our work up.”
As for the coaches, the 80-hour workweeks don’t end because there are no games in a week. Instead, they turn much of their attention to recruiting.
For Thursday’s practices, the Wildcats had only four full-time coaches at practice, as the rest of the staff was out recruiting. Hill said the coaches who are recruiting work harder than coaches who are at home conducting practice.
“Those guys who are out on the road are actually putting in more hours because they’re gone from their families,” said Hill, who was a top recruiter as an assistant coach at Utah. “We’ve got a bunch of coaches out on the road, and that’s pretty typical of most bye weeks as well.”
The final task Weber State will try and achieve during the bye week is preparing for Cal Poly. The Mustangs run a triple-option attack, which is one of the hardest offenses in football to defend.
Much as Utah would use bye weeks to prepare for Air Force, Hill said the Wildcats are using this week to focus on stopping Cal Poly’s attack.
“It should be a benefit to us (to have this week to prepare) if our players handle it right,” he said. “But once the ball is kicked off, it’s still a football game. We’re still going to have to tackle well; we’re still going to have to block well. But this week should be a benefit to us.”