OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy expects to punch the accelerator when the Cowboys open fall football practice next week.
With SEC powerhouse Georgia looming in the Cowboys' Sept. 1 opener, Gundy believes he'll need to speed up his team's progress quicker than in previous years to get ready in time.
``We probably have to make things happen four or five days earlier than normal,'' Gundy said Thursday night after addressing fans at a caravan stop in Oklahoma City's Bricktown entertainment district.
Gundy's first two seasons as Oklahoma State's coach began with home games against Montana State and Missouri State _ both I-AA foes. This time, it's a road game between the Hedges against a Bulldogs team that went 9-4 and beat Virginia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
``The good thing about opening up with Georgia is we don't have to do much to get excitement generated. It kind of takes care of itself,'' Gundy said.
Oklahoma State players will report next week before meeting with the media and fans on Fan Appreciation Day on Aug. 4. The regular season starts only four weeks after that.
The Cowboys will use their fall practices to fine-tune an offense that averaged 35.2 points last season and continuing the installation of new defensive coordinator Tim Beckman's schemes on defense.
``There's a fine line of how much you want to do,'' Gundy said. ``You get 29 opportunities, and you want to take advantage of all of them but you don't want to do too much.''
For the first time since 2002, Oklahoma State will be coming off a bowl victory _ a 34-31 defeat of Alabama in the Independence Bowl _ as it prepares for the season. Senior quarterback Bobby Reid returns with his favorite target, Adarius Bowman, on one of the only two offenses in the nation to average 200 yards rushing and passing last season.
``We have a team that's close and we care about each other, and we have good leaders, and that's very important,'' Gundy said.
When they return, players will also notice progress on a renovation project that will bowl in the west end zone of Boone Pickens Stadium. Gundy said the construction is already having an effect.
``It's already started to impact us in recruiting, but obviously when it's finished and they can walk into it, it's going to be so nice that it'll make a huge impact,'' Gundy said.