NEW ORLEANS – From a personal standpoint, I finally got to check out some of New Orleans with dinner with my wife and daughter at the famed Commander's Palace in the Garden District, and then this morning the ultra-touristy trip to the French Quarter, Jackson Square, and coffee and beignets at Cafe' du Monde.
That is touristy, but the tourism for the Oklahoma State Cowboys has basically reached the end and it is all about focusing on the game and Ole Miss from this point on. Up until now the focus has been split and with the head coach's blessing. After all, it was Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy who had a picture of himself on a hoverboard outside the hotel on Canal Street that made the rounds. That excursion came under the free time and fun category of the trip and Gundy said it was also part bravado
"You know it was funny some of the players and some of the children of coaches on our staff suggested that I couldn't ride one of them and that it was too hard, so I hoped on one and went down the block an came back so I proved I could ride it," Gundy said. "I thought I did pretty good on it. A couple of times I got a little top heavy."
"I saw the wipeout that (former boxer) Mike Tyson had on a hoverboard," confirmed Oklahoma State defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah. "Coach Gundy is a better athlete than Mike Tyson and he is pretty good with stuff like that."
The Cowboys veteran defensive end, a junior and an All-Big 12 first-team selection and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, is starting to act and talk like a guy that is set to play his last game for Oklahoma State. He is very appreciative of the opportunity.
"I can't thank coach Gundy enough for the chance to be a part of this," Ogbah said. "Coach Gundy has been great, all the coaches have. It has been so special to be on this team and play with all these guys. I want to get out there and win this game for all of them."
Another Cowboy that is a senior and playing his final time in the orange and black is the reliable and always high spirited slot receiver David Glidden. The senior from Mustang, Okla., admits that he is trying to keep his emotions in some sort of check and perform.
"It is the elephant in the room," Glidden said when asked about whether he is treating this game like any other or dealing with the feelings head on that he is playing his last game for OSU. "I tried not thinking about it but I can't? I'm ready for the game and I want to play the best I can. This has been a special time in my life and I can't thank coach Gundy and everybody at Oklahoma State enough."
The final games for a number of players that have meant a lot to the program is one aspect of the game. Another aspect is ending the two-game losing streak the season ended on. Yet another aspect of the game is the situation at quarterback and Gundy told the media at the Super Dome on Wednesday that Mason Rudolph has practiced well and has not taken any backward steps in his recovery from the foot injury he suffered in the Baylor game.
Gundy may not be concerned with Rudolph as far as his health but he is very concerned about the quarterback his defense will be facing. Gundy has been seen over with the defense during practices preaching gap control, tackling, and being smart about decisions on when and how to approach Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly.
"He seems to be a competitor. He runs the ball very well, and he can make plays if things break down," Gundy said of Kelly, who told us earlier this week that his uncle, former Bills quarterback Jim Kelly, will be at the game. "He has been successful, and he looks a lot like some of the quarterbacks that we face in our league. He's a good player. We have to do a good job of corralling him and trying to slow him down when he's got the football."
Tonight the Cowboys have an 11 p.m. curfew and activities are few, likely a lot of time with friends and family. Tomorrow the wake up call for the Cowboys is not until 10 a.m. and then meetings, a short walk thru, and eventually for the travel squad a bus ride and check in at a hotel well away from the revelry and noise of New Year's Eve in the French Quarter. It's time to forget about po-boys, gumbo, jambalaya, oysters, and bread pudding. It will be time to correct the end of November with a win on the first day of 2016.