By Jason Elmquist
One of the benefits to the bowl season is the opportunity for sightseeing for both football teams.
Several of the Purdue players made their way down to Dealey Plaza, not far from their team hotel, early in the day and both teams got a chance to take in a Dallas Mavericks game at American Airlines Arena Friday night. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, the game was only against the Denver Nuggets — a night after the Oklahoma City Thunder claimed an overtime win over the Mavs in OKC.
“It’s an optional thing and some guys will end up going. It’s just great of them to set up things for us to do every night,” OSU quarterback Clint Chelf said. “I just wish the Mavs were playing the Thunder again, because I’d definitely go watch it. But I don’t know if I’ll make it to this one.”
With the NBA game being optional, some of the Cowboy players from the Metroplex decided to spend the evening with family and friends. Center Evan Epstein, a native of McKinney, Texas, and receiver Charlie Moore, who is from Bullard, Texas, both made plan involving their girlfriends — with the Dallas Aquarium being the likely destination.
“My girlfriend is from Allen, so I think she’s going to pick me up and we’re going to go to the aquarium and get a bite to eat,” Moore said. “Just looking forward to spending some time with her.”
Epstein also mentioned visiting the Dallas Aquarium, and possibly leading to a double date.
“We may do that,” Epstein said. “But what people don’t know, is that I actually had my prom at the Dallas Aquarium. So it’s kind of a sentimental place for me. I haven’t been to it for a while, so may have to take my girlfriend there.”
While there is some fun to be had on the trip, Chelf said the team has taken a more business approach to the trip with the way the regular season ended with back-to-back losses.
“Coach Gundy said it best when he was talking to us the other day that it’s all fun, but it makes it a lot more fun when you win the game,” Chelf said. “That’s what our ultimate goal is down here. We didn’t come down here just to have fun and hang out. The ultimate goal is to play a football game and win it. I think the guys understand that, and that’s our mentality.”
Offensive line preparing for All-American
Purdue may have backed into the bowl season by winning its last three games of the season to become bowl eligible, but the Boilermakers aren’t lacking in some talent.
On the defensive side, they are led by senior defensive tackle Kawann Short, who was named a second-team All-American by the Associated Press.
“That comes down to Lane (Taylor), Brandon Webb and I. That’s going to be our job,” Epstein said. “We’re prepared for him. We know he’s a great player and we’re excited to get in there and block against him.”
Short is listed at 6-foot-3, 315 pounds and should be a load for the Cowboy linemen, with the biggest of the three being Taylor at 6-3, 328 pounds.
“He is a big boy. He’s a lot faster than I think people give him credit for and he’s got great hands,” Epstein said. “We’re excited to run our offense against him.”
Travel woes effect at least one Cowboy
With all the winter weather that hit the Midwest over the past week, at least one player was bound to find himself stranded. For Oklahoma State, that was offensive lineman Parker Graham.
The native of Webb City, Mo., had troubles flying into the Dallas area — and even more travel troubles when he got into the Metroplex.
“His flight got delayed because of the snow in Dallas, but he finally got in and got a shuttle from DFW to the hotel,” Epstein said. “He told the driver that he needed Omni Hotel Dallas (the team hotel) and he texted me and said he was in Bedford. I told him that I think the guy was driving him to Fort Worth — and sure enough he was driving to Fort Worth.”
But the starting offensive lineman finally made it to the team meetings after some words with the driver.
“The driver started cussing at (Graham) in French, but he didn’t know that Parker knows French,” Epstein said. “So it was one of those stories you’ll always remember — especially for him. So he ends up coming into the team meeting in the wrong outfit with a plate of food because he missed lunch.”