TU Football Notebook: One last time
BY ERIC BAILEY & BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writers
Monday, December 31, 2012
12/31/12 at 3:42 AM
Tulsa's football team carried over a bowl tradition on Sunday night.
The team met with senior leaders giving speeches. It is typically an emotional affair.
"I think we look forward to it," Tulsa head coach Bill Blankenship said on Saturday. "I was inspired by it the other day when I saw Jared St. John talked about not playing anymore until he heard those guys. That was all the more reason to say there is probably a reason we keep doing this."
Tulsa had a walkthrough and team picture at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium on Sunday, 24 hours after holding the final practice of the 2012 season.
"It's a pretty special day when you stop and actually think about it, especially for those 18 seniors that we have and are finishing up for us," Blankenship said. "They've carried us. They did this week. We've had reasons for not practicing hard - rain, weather and all that. They brought it every day. Because of their leadership, the rest of the guys did "
Team colors: TU and Iowa State will be wearing their home colors during Monday's Liberty Bowl.
"Both ESPN and the Liberty Bowl have approved the fact that we're both going to wear our home jersey," Blankenship said.
Tulsa, which will wear blue, is the designated home team.
Iowa State will wear its cardinal-colored jerseys.
Just like 2005: Tulsa's football players often have heard about the 2005 team that won a Conference USA championship and the Liberty Bowl.
Blankenship was asked to what extent does it determine whether 2012 was a success.
"To me, it's a big, big deal. I think it's very important to our leaders on this team," the TU coach said. "They are very happy with being conference champions, but they are not content.
"They want to be Liberty Bowl champions. We have one of those bells - the trophy for being Liberty Bowl champions (in 2005). They want the 2012 team to have one of those, too."
About that rematch: Iowa State defeated the Hurricane 38-23 in the season opener.
Just one day shy of a four-month anniversary, the schools will meet again on Monday.
"If I had my preference, I would probably say that you wouldn't necessarily look for a rematch," Blankenship said. "The big thing for us was, as a conference champion and getting to go to the Liberty Bowl - it was a huge reward for us. We knew that. We wanted a chance to play a statement game ...
"Selfishly, we wanted to play a team from a power conference. We want the opportunity to have a statement win."
Neighbors: Daeshon Bufford and St. John grew up one street away from each other in Edmond. The high school teammates used to ride together to lift weights at Santa Fe High School. They played next to each other on the Wolves' offensive line.
Now the two will play their final game together - on the defensive line - on Monday.
"This is just like his senior year in high school," Bufford said of St. John, a fifth-year senior. "He was at left guard and I was left tackle."
"We'd break the huddle and I'd tell him the plays sometimes," St. John said with a laugh. "It's cool to have someone that I've played seven years with. Me and Buff are real close."
Breaking through: Alex Singleton has 41 touchdowns, which is a school record. He also has 14 multiple-touchdown games, including nine in 2012.
Many of the 6-foot-1, 260-pound senior's scores have been in short-yardage situations. He didn't score against Iowa State in the season opener.
"He's a great change of pace for us with our two fast guys (Trey Watts and Ja'Terian Douglas)," Blankenship said. "His conditioning is better this year. He's in a better place mentally in terms of what his role is. He's embraced it better than before."
"I was so stuck in high school of being the man," Singleton said. "I got here and I finally started thinking I could turn the short yardage into long yardage. Just take every opportunity and maximizing it."