NORMAN — The entire point of a vacation is to rest up and be able to work again. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops saw the ramifications of the two weeks he gave his players off when they returned to practice this week.
Many of those who limped onto the practice field as OU prepared for the Dec. 1 regular-season finale against TCU had a spring in their step when they returned to practice.
Running back Damien Williams was one of many who looked like a different person when the Sooners reconvened on the practice last Saturday.
“Damien Williams has been limping around the last three games of the year, and he had no limp the last couple of days. It’s been fun,” Stoops said. “He’s healing and most of the other guys aren’t limping as much and feeling better, so it’s got to help us some. I believe it will.”
The break came after a punishing regular season, which closed with the Sooners playing nine games in the final nine weeks. There was no time for that little break to let the aches of a season heal.
Stoops doesn’t believe a week off in November would have made much of a difference.
“A lot of times that weekend isn’t going to get you much healthier anyway. You still have to practice. You don’t want to give them the whole week off because you lose your timing and sense of rhythm playing. They’re still on their legs and working,” he said.
The grind, however, exacted a toll. Williams was one of several critical cogs in OU’s that were significantly slowed down the stretch.
He suffered an ankle injury in the Oct. 27 game against No. 1 Notre Dame. He played in the final five games against Iowa State, Baylor, West Virginia, Oklahoma State and TCU. The burst he had in the first half of the season, however, was absent.