Both Iowa State and Tulsa arrived in Memphis on Wednesday in advance of their New Year's Eve Liberty Bowl match-up. Wintry conditions welcomed the Cyclones and Hurricane as temperatures were around the freezing mark and snow was on the ground on arrival day.
ISU flirted with the idea of moving its Monday practice indoors, but eventually stuck with the original plan to work out in the elements on the campus of Rhodes College in Memphis. The Cyclones worked out in helmets and shorts despite the cold weather and head coach Paul Rhoads called it a bonus practice as compared to a normal week of game prep.
And converting the bowl week into a normal game week is a major component to Iowa State's preparation for the game.
"You'll often this week hear me mistakenly refer to a day as Tuesday or Wednesday when you know it's not," Rhoads said. "I'm not crazy, that's the just the mode I'm in right now. [Wednesday] is (a game week) Monday, which is typically not a practice day for us, so this is a bonus. This is a knock-the-rust-off type of day and get out there and move around and get some football. And then when we go to work tomorrow, it's a normal Tuesday preparation day."
Iowa State was down a starting defensive back for Wednesday's workout as junior safety Jacques Washington was stranded in Oklahoma due to flight issues. Washington did arrive in Memphis Wednesday night to join the team for the rest of bowl week activities.
Even though the bowl game is a rematch of Iowa State's 38-23 victory over Tulsa back on September 1, a common theme on both sides has been that the teams have changed so much since then that the rematch aspect of the game is minimal.
"It does seem like a long time ago," Rhoads said about the season opener. "And I think because of that there's positives to that for both teams. Meaning, you've got a different team almost that you're preparing for. What Coach Blankenship and Tulsa went through here recently - almost back-to-back getting ready for UCF - is probably a bigger challenge than going from game one to the last game of the season in preparation.
"The major changes are being minus players," he added. "Both sides have it. They, on the other hand, have gained players. They have a very good linebacker who did not play against us who is back on the field. Where we've lost a number of starters, as have they. The other difference is what has played out over the course of the season and who we've become, identity-wise, as an offense and defense and special teams. There's no question both teams have changed since that opening day kickoff and that's the chess match that has to be played out."
Rhoads said Wednesday that redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Richardson has taken the bulk of the snaps with the number one offense during bowl preparation and the expectation is that he'll take the bulk of the snaps against Tulsa. Richardson did not play against the Hurricane in September.
Iowa State will practice at Rhodes College again on Wednesday and then players from both teams will visit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital late in the afternoon. There is also a team welcome party this evening.