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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Football

Cougars’ game face remain on during holiday


Senior linebacker Steven Taylor is heading into his final game against the Bearcats in his career. | Reagan Earnst/The Cougar

Senior linebacker Steven Taylor said that he can’t wait to play in his final collegiate conference game come Friday. | Reagan Earnst/The Cougar

As many already know, the football team claimed one of the most impressive wins in program history by defeating the University of Louisville Cardinals 36-10 last Thursday.

The Cougars will now adjust to another shortened week that includes Thanksgiving Day.

“It feels good to come off a win. I have stated that was about as a complete of a team win as we have had around here in a while,” Head coach Tom Herman said. “That being said, we have one more to play. We have put the Louisville game to bed, as we should. We have moved on to prepare for Memphis.”

Despite being the only team in the nation with two victories against top-five-ranked opponents this season, the Cougars will not win their conference this season.

Although the Cougars’ goal, at the beginning of the year, was a second consecutive American Athletic Conference Championship, two crucial losses to Southern Methodist University and United States Naval Academy have foiled their plans.

Herman and his staff must work hard to prevent a third slip-up in a season with little tangible rewards left to play for.

“Around here, and in this program, it’s really difficult to get away without any let down or complacency,” Herman said. “It is not allowable in our culture. We practiced Saturday morning, and I was really, really hard on our guys. I was really demanding. There was a lot of yelling and screaming.”

An added challenge will be maintaining players’ focus during the break. Herman implemented a policy that players who live within a 100-mile radius of the school are permitted to go home to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Players who live beyond that must find a teammate to go home with or come to Herman’s residence for Thanksgiving dinner before facing the University of Memphis Tigers.

Among the players who may knock on Herman’s door is Dallas native Nick Thurman.

“I’m thinking about maybe going to a teammate’s house,” Thurman said. “My coach told me that his house is open, so we’ll see. It was kind of sad when he told me I couldn’t go home, but I get it. We have Memphis on Friday, so that’s what we have to focus on.”

Thanksgiving is tough on football players and coaches since games are traditionally played on the holiday itself, the following Friday and Saturday.

Now in his fourth year of college football, senior tight end Tyler McCloskey is no stranger to hosting teammates at his parents’ home on the holiday.

“Every single year I have been in college, my mom has made two or three turkeys, a bunch of stuffing, and I bring 10 or 11 guys to the house and we go to town,” McCloskey said. “She loves it because we are usually not there for Thanksgiving. It’s something she looks forward to every year. The guys that come every year, they also look forward to it as well.”

Although unsure of his Thanksgiving plans, senior linebacker Steven Taylor is focus on the task at hand: getting the 10th victory of the season on Friday.

Taking a moment to reminiscence, Taylor said he is anxious to play his final conference game as a collegiate athlete.

“I can’t believe it. These years go by so quick,” Taylor said. “I’ve been here five years and it’s unbelievable how time flies. I’m excited. I can’t wait to go out there and ball out with my boys. We’re going to come hard and prepare hard as well.”

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