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Malcolm Rodriguez walked into Fiesta Bowl media day with a cowboy hat on and full of excitement. Rodriguez, the leader of the team, leads Oklahoma State in tackles and is ready to pounce on Notre Dame and walk away from Glendale with a win and Fiesta Bowl trophy in his final game as a Cowboy.
“I’m just glad they (OSU) took a chance on a small-town kid like me. I’m glad we were able to kind of be in the top ten at the end of the season, and hopefully, we get this W on Saturday,” said Rodriguez about OSU.
Rodriguez is the energetic, full-of-life team leader alongside players such as safety Kolby Harvell-Peel, who is a dynamic, versatile, highly-touted NFL Draft prospect.
Harvell-Peel, who has ten interceptions in his career at OSU, including three this season, withdrew his name from consideration in last year's NFL Draft pool after realizing that he wanted to have another go at it with Oklahoma State.
“After I made the decision it felt like I had a weight taken off my shoulders and I was able to lock in on playing ball at OSU again. I went through this whole season, enjoyed it, and in the end coming back paid off and I was able to have a great season.”
Harvell-Peel is one of the main pieces to OSU’s team that has soared to the 9th overall ranking in the country.
However, the excitement of playing in a New Years 6 game will also come with faes leaving and tons of preparation for Notre Dame’s offense.
Oklahoma State’s former DC, Jim Knowles, recently left the program for the Ohio State Buckeyes, which left OSU’s Mike Gundy with a quick decision on who to appoint as interim DC.
Gundy looked no further than defensive line coach, Joe Bob Clements, who has had plenty of offers to be a DC at many schools around the country.
Clements has a lot of his hands to take care of. Although he knows the team inside and out, he will have to fill in the void that came with Knowles leaving the program.
In addition, Clements will also have to prepare for Notre Dame’s QB carousel. The Fighting Irish have used 3 different QBs this year, all of whom possess different unique attributes.
Jack Coan is a proven winner and pocket passer. Freshman, Tyler Buchner, is labeled as the future of the program and has good size and wheels. Meanwhile, Drew Pyne is a mix of both Coan and Buchner.
Joe Bob Clements talked about the preparation for the game and having to play against possibly 3 QBs, “Well, we've had the fortunate benefit of having a month to prepare. It might have been a little bit more of a headache if we only had a week. But you see some uniqueness with the quarterbacks that they play, but you also see similarities… They’ve got (Coan) who’s played in two different New Years' 6 Bowl games for two different teams, and that’s not a coincidence. They also got 12 (Tyler Buchner), and he’s a dynamic runner but can also throw the ball and make things happen for them.”
Collin Oliver, who leads the team in sacks, also talked about playing against a multitude of QBs, “I'm very excited. It's a new challenge that I can't wait to take on. We obviously have been preparing for the trio of quarterbacks that they have in a good way, in preparing certain calls for certain situations. So I think Joe Bob [Clements] has his stuff down,” Oliver said.
Oklahoma State’s hard-hitting, energetic, and cohesive defensive unit will take the field against Notre Dame at the Fiesta Bowl on New Years Day and all the players are looking forward to the chance to play against a school with the prestige and talent of Notre Dame.
Although doubts have been presented by many college football fans after the Jim Knowles move, Notre Dame is going through a similar situation and both teams will want to start their new eras off strong.
A writer who loves to learn and share.
All Editorials written by Chris Dailey