Cowboys In San Diego: Visiting The Zoo

SAN DIEGO - Lions and tigers and bears, oh my. Well sure, you can find them all at the world famous San Diego Zoo and Friday afternoon you could find plenty of Cowboys and Ducks as both the Oklahoma State and the Oregon football teams in town for the Holiday Bowl spent some time at the zoo.

At bowl events like this they always like to stage media photo opportunities and as they arrived at the Zoo, several Oklahoma State players, including Ray Guy Award-winning punter Matt Fodge, offensive tackle Brady Bond, and linebackers Orie Lemon, Patrick Lavine and Andre Sexton were all ushered into the Wegeforth Bowl, the home of the Sea Lion Show.

The San Diego Zoo has been putting on a Sea Lion Show for 72 years and the latest star of that show is Coba. The huge mammal has appeared on The Tonight Show and Friday gave kisses to several Cowboy players and let out a bark that caused Orie Lemon, a little leary of Coba to begin with, to jump about five feet in the air.

Some of us joked that his kiss from Coba was the best he'd had in four years of college to which Coba's handler said, "I'm sorry to hear that."

"An experience like none other, I've never experienced anything like that in my life," said Fodge afterwards, admitting that he has probably never been kissed by anything or anyone that big before. "I liked it, it was cool, and I had fun."

"Yeahhh, that thing barked way too loud for me," said Lemon with his teammates and the photographers taking pictures still laughing in the background.

The event was a good one as the players, coaches and their families were not the only ones there. There was a huge crowd at the Zoo including many of the fans from both teams.

"I was over there by the lions and this husband and wife come up to me and the wife asked if I could take a picture with her," said Cowboys quarterback Zac Robinson. "She had her arm around me and told me that taking that picture made her trip."

It was a good experience and the Cowboys will repeat the experience Saturday at a different attraction as both teams will hit Sea World after their practices in the morning.

Speaking of practice the Cowboys went through their longest practice of the bowl week Friday with a slightly more than two-hour practice session that included a short live team period and running after practice. That is likely the last time the Cowboys have to run sprints for the 2008 season.

It is obvious the defense has a different attitude at practice with defensive line coach Glenn Spencer and safeties coach Joe DeForest directing the defense following the departure of Tim Beckman to become the head coach at Toledo. That has been very apparent in the preparation in San Diego.

"Everybody was energized with the good weather and it was early morning," said Sexton. "We were having a lot of fun but we got the work done. Coach Beck was real serious and these guys are laid back, but in the end it comes back to winning and that is the real fun. Both of their philosophies are the same when it comes to win. We get our work done and have some fun at the same time."

Something that would be real fun for the Cowboys on defense and they may have a chance, although Oregon really runs the football first over passing, is a pick six opportunity. With third corner Terrance Anderson not at the bowl with the team, starters Jacob Lacey and Perrish Cox would like to grab one and go.

"It is kind of tough (missing two corners on the trip) but we are trying to keep it moving and have fun," said Cox. "We always talk about that (pick six) and have our personal conversations on what we are trying to do and what we are going to do. Pick six in a bowl game would be as good as it gets."

Cox is a graduate of Waco University High School, the same high school as San Diego Chargers star running back LaDamian Tomlinson. Cox said he is hoping to see Tomlinson while he is here.

"I got ahold of him yesterday and he hasn't got back to me yet," said Cox. "He said he would call me back and we would get together."

"He said he was talking to him on the phone as we were walking up to dinner after practice," said Sexton. "If he is going to meet him then I am going to hang close to Perrish and see if I can get a handshake or meet him or something."

The Chargers have a huge game, winner take all (division title and playoff berth) as they host the Denver Broncos, with former OSU running back Tatum Bell. Jamal Williams, a former OSU defensive lineman, is a Pro Bowl defensive tackle for the Chargers and he was at the team hotel renewing relationships on Christmas night.

The final Cowboy expected to be here for the bowl game arrived this afternoon. Wide receiver Damian Daivs missed a flight and had trouble getting on a flight but he did get into San Diego on Friday afternoon.

On Saturday the Cowboys practice in the morning and then head to Sea World. Each night the curfew gets earlier and on Saturday it is midnight.

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