By Jason Elmquist, CNHI News Service
The Oklahoma State football team hasn’t gotten much of an escape from the weather with its trip to Texas.
On Friday, the Cowboys practiced in chilly, windy and wet conditions at Highland Park High School in north Dallas.
“It’s not very fun. I don’t like throwing in the rain,” quarterback Clint Chelf of Enid said. “But it’s just one of those things that you’ve just got to work on because the game conditions could be similar.
“I though we’d come down here and it’d be sunny and it’d be nice every day. But Oklahoma and Texas are pretty similar weather-wise, I guess. But if it’s like Oklahoma, hopefully it will be sunny tomorrow — and hot.”
While the high school has an indoor practice facility next to its football stadium, Mike Gundy and his coaching staff decided to hold practice in the elements — since there is a chance of cold and windy conditions for Tuesday’s Heart of Dallas Bowl against Purdue.
“I had a couple words with Coach Gundy about it, joking that they have a really nice indoor facility and we should check it out,” center Evan Epstein said. “But it’s a functional thing. It was a good opportunity to get out there in the elements.
“We haven’t had too much rain the whole year, but Clint probably hates it more than others do.”
The wet conditions played its biggest role with the OSU quarterbacks. Chelf said he has never used a glove to help grip a wet ball and just made due on Friday.
“For quarterbacks it is pretty tough because the ball gets slick when they are wet, but you’ve just got to find a way to make it happen,” Chelf said. “... I’ve thought about using a glove, but I’ve never thrown with one on so I don’t know how I’d do.”
While the temperature — which barely reached into the 40s, but was accompanied by gusts more than 20 mph — didn’t hinder Epstein, he said he did have to adjust to the drizzle on the high school turf.
“It was a good situation. The field doesn’t have as good of drainage as our field might have, but any time you get the chance to work with a wet ball is always preparing you,” Epstein said. “You never know what the weather is going to be like. But if I can snap a wet ball, I can snap a dry ball with no problems.”
The players having to deal with the cold conditions the most was the receiving corps — the leather footballs feeling like bricks being thrown at them.
“It takes a few catches to get warmed up,” said receiver Charlie Moore, who also took some time fielding punts during practice. “They definitely sting your hands in this weather. But after a couple of catches, and you get your body warm, it gets better.”
NBA game just one of entertainment options
One of the benefits to the bowl season is the opportunity for site seeing 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,” 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 plays involving their girlfriends — with the Dallas Aquarium being the likely destination.
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.”
Jason Elmquist is the sports editor for the Stillwater NewsPress.