Cowboys Have Made Themselves at Home in the Desert Off the field the Cowboys are staying at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort, a luxurious village style resort complete with two desert golf courses, a full service spa, and a conference center that has served as both meeting location and office for Cowboy football.
The hotel also has ample hospitality rooms for both the players and staff. The Wild Horse Pass Resort staff is hosting the Oklahoma State Cowboys for the Insight Bowl and they have said they would like to be hosting another group of Cowboys - the Dallas Cowboys in late January and February as this hotel will be the host for the NFC team in the Super Bowl.
Unlike some bowls there are limited events, which allow players to go out and do more on their own, which they have not been shy about doing. So far, so good as there have been no problems. The amount of time out on the town starts being limited tonight as curfew moves to midnight, with curfew being 11 p.m. on Saturday and 10 p.m. and a very structured schedule on Sunday, the night before the game.
Practices have been good. In fact, head coach Mike Gundy and the staff were so happy with practice Friday at Corona del Sol High School that it was shortened by almost 30 minutes.
‘We had a good practice today, very enthusiastic," said Gundy. "We've had good practices this week. Our players are really enjoying themselves here in Tempe. The hospitality has been tremendous. The players are starting to sense that the game is getting closer. They've enjoyed practice and being around each other for another week. We have it down to where we are practicing about an hour and a half right now."
In practice Friday, special teams were sharp as they worked both field goals and punts. They also worked punt returns, and in the absence of Tommy Devereaux (the only Cowboy who did not make the trip), Perrish Cox was joined in returns by Al'Darius Thompson and William Cole.
"We've worked hard on special teams," said Gundy. "Their kicker (Adam Starr of Indiana) has been really good for them. Our special teams have gotten better as the season went on. The later part of the year we have improved in all areas. We'd rather the game not come down to a kick but if it does then I have every confidence that Dan (Bailey) will step up and kick the field goal."
On offense, wide receiver Adarius Bowman was very sharp making catch after catch. On defense the play by the Cowboy secondary against the scout offense was solid with cornerback Jacob Lacey picking off a couple of passes in team work.
The Cowboys concern with Indiana is with quarterback Kellen Lewis.
"Their quarterback is a playmaker," said Gundy after the Cowboys practice Friday. "As soon as you overload the box, then they throw it out there to the big guy (6-7 wide receiver James Hardy). It is very similar to what we did here with Donovan Woods several years ago. We would run the ball effectively. They are running it differently, obviously with their quarterback. They've been very productive. Defensively, I don't think they get enough credit. They are in the right spot. They are coached well and play very hard."
Indiana, which arrived a day later than the Cowboys, had so many delays in getting to Phoenix that it held just its first workout on site as they are practicing at Desert Mountain High School.
"It was just a long day," said Hoosiers head coach Bill Lynch about the travel day and delays the Indiana team experienced on Thursday. "Those of us who have been around long enough have had those delays at different times. It all worked out as we got here with all 108 players and support staff. If we had to play today it would be a distraction. We have enough time. We made some adjustments in our practice today since we missed yesterday's workout."
Like with Gundy, Lynch is most concerned with his opponents' offense.
"They're pretty scary if you ask me because they are so balanced," said Lynch. "Those are always the toughest teams to play against. That is what they are, they can run it and they can throw it. You have to be able to do a great job of defending both because even if you shut off one they can beat you with the other."
Both teams will hold the final practices Saturday at their high school practice sites and also participate in Gridiron Youth Day as each team will mingle with area youth groups in a clinic and informal mentoring format.
Cowboys At Home In The Desert
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