Sunday Bowl Practice Is Lively

STILLWATER - The official word came down right as Oklahoma State was finishing up its hour and a half practice Sunday afternoon in Boone Pickens Stadium. A practice dominated by opportunities for the younger players and some high impact collisions in a three-on-three drill ended with the news the players were wanting to hear that the Cowboy would be going to the Holiday Bowl in sunny San Diego.

"We're looking forward to it and I think it is a great bowl location," said head coach Mike Gundy, who played in the Cowboys dominating 62-14 1988 Holiday Bowl win over Wyoming. "The weather is beautiful, have a great opponent in Oregon, very good football team, so it should be a great bowl week.

"We'll be able to fly out there the afternoon of Christmas and get out there and practice. There is a lot to do for the families, the wife, the kids, and I think the players will really enjoy that part of the country.

"It's a great honor and an accomplishment for the football team and I look forward to the West Coast," said redshirt freshman defensive end Richetti Jones. "I actually have family in California and I haven't seen them in a long time, but I told them to let me know how many tickets they need."

Gundy was a major part of that 62-14 bowl win, handing the ball to Heisman Trophy winner Barry Sanders, throwing several touchdown passes, and even catching a pass that set up a touchdown. The throwback to the quarterback may have to be an Oklahoma State Holiday Bowl tradition.

"We should put that in because we've got an athletic quarterback that can go up and get it, so that might work out for us," laughed Gundy.

Gundy is actually in the Holiday Bowl Hall of Fame. "I don't even know what class I was in, it was about six or seven years ago," said Gundy of his selection into the Holiday Bowl honor. "I can't remember. My wife asked me last night and I couldn't remember. It is a special place. I remember at the event them saying that they sure would like to get Oklahoma State back out there."

It was a new style bowl practice for Gundy with rap music coming through the stadium sound system. Gundy said he and the staff had the goal of making practice more fun, more high energy for the players. It paid off as the young players showed up big when they had the opportunity.

During the team period there were some highlights, none bigger than a touchdown toss from quarterback to freshman wide receiver Justin Blackmon. The touchdown covered 35 yards and was part of the focus on the younger players in the team period.

The highlight was really the three-on-three running drill that featured three blockers versus three defenders going three times to see if either running back Kye Staley or Travis Miller could get 10 yards. It was plenty explosive as both backs had their moments.

Defensively, young players like Richetti Jones, defensive tackle Ahmad Jones, defensive tackle Shane Jarka, defensive end Jamie Blatnick, and defensive end Nigel Nicholas made plays, some really outstanding. For a player that has seen little action and been on the scout team, Nicholas has a chance to really be good.

"Man, that was the funnest drill we've done in practice since I've been here," said Richetti Jones. "I wish we'd started doing that early and did it every day. That made practice go by so much faster. We really wanted to do that the rest of practice.

"Big Nigel is going to be real nice on the field," continued Jones. "He is going to be real nice and he has a motor that he can keep going."

"We actually canceled three period of practice because that went over about 15 minutes, but that was a lot of fun," said Gundy. "For the young players to get out there and change things up, and it's the young guys chance to have fun and be physical."

Among the offensive linemen and tight ends, Trent Perkins, Jonathan Rush, and Patrick Hoog looked good. Tight ends Justin Horton, Cooper Bassett and Jamal Mosley all had some good blocks to clear runs for Staley and Miller. The drill ended on a good note, but there was one major flare up as linebacker Donald Booker and tight end Jamal Mosley got sideways and it took some real manpower to keep the two combatants separated.

"Wickline (offensive line coach), that is actually his drill," said Gundy. "I thought he cheated a couple of times for the offensive line, but that is par for the course for those guys."

The Cowboys now focus on final exams for the week before getting back on the practice field Friday following finals.

The coaches will be on the road recruiting with Gundy making a stop to join punter Matt Fodge and wide receiver Dez Bryant for the Home Dept College Football Awards Show in Orlando, Fla., and Gunter Brewer heading to San Diego to fill in for Gundy at a Holiday Bowl coaches news conference.

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