HOUSTON, Texas -- The buses followed the escort motorcycles from the Harris County Sheriff's Office down the South Freeway heading toward downtown Houston and eventually over to TDECU Stadium on the University of Houston campus. For the final time this season the Cowboys were on the practice field in preparation for Friday's 5:45 p.m. kickoff with Texas A&M in the Academy Sports and Outdoors Texas Bowl. The team will go to NRG Stadium on Thursday and have a call out, where the coaches run through all the special teams units and position groups for the game. They will also have a short walk through and run around a little in the stadium to get used to it. That is not really a practice.
Oklahoma State seems loose, prepared, confident, and as a team, they are having fun. One of the traditions of the final practice is the trading of jerseys. Quarterbacks Dru Brown and Spencer Sanders traded with Johnny Wilson and Bryce Bray, so Brown was wearing 72 and Sanders had on 78. The number six on Wilson and the number 3 on Bray were pretty stretched out. Cowboy back Jelani Woods wore number one and slot receiver Landon Wolf wore 89. Players across the board traded practice jerseys.
“Obviously, being with family is awesome, but any time you’re playing football at this time of year it’s something special," Brown said looking out of place wearing #72. "We’re enjoying ourselves here. I think we’re all excited. We’ve been practicing for quite a while now, so we just want to play the game already.”
During the main part of practice, the two sides of the ball split up as the defense worked against Texas A&M scouts inside the stadium and the offense went inside the Cougars indoor facility and worked against a Texas A&M scout defense.
After practice, strength and conditioning chief Rob Glass passed out another tradition with coins to the seniors after their last practice that have the four principles of the program engraved on them. Head coach Mike Gundy spoke to the team and then they headed back to the hotel for a traditional Christmas dinner that included all the players, the coaches, support staff, and families. There were a lot of kids and even some 506 miles away from Stillwater, closer for some players from home and further for others like Dru Brown and especially Chuba Hubbard, the dinner felt like Christmas with lots of children and turkey and top sirloin, green beans and cornbred dressing, even bread pudding and pumpkin pie for dessert.
“I would be home spending time with my family, opening gifts, but this time spending it with the guys and trying to win a bowl game is phenomenal," defensive end Tyler Lacy told members of the media on Tuesday.
Next is the main course for the week and that is the game with the Aggies on Friday. Under Gundy, Oklahoma State is 9-4 in bowl games and winners of three bowl games in a row. They are looking for 10 overall and a fourth in succession on Dec. 27.