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December 21, 2012
The Boilers ended their early morning practice Friday feeling good about where they stand in preparation for their bowl game 10 days from now.
But before then, they'll be free for Christmas break, return on Dec. 26 for a couple practices, then take off for Texas, where they'll play Oklahoma State in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
"I'm really proud of the kids," said interim head coach Patrick Higgins. "They've done a really good job. With the situation that they were put in with the transition, their attitude has been great and they've been dedicated to the cause."
Quarterback Robert Marve says the practices have been short, but focused. And the Boilermakers seem spirited and loose in anticipation of playing the Cowboys.
"It's been a ton of fun," he said. "We're having a great time with it. I know a lot of guys say that, but they've been changing up practice so much that it's always something different. Something's always on the line.
" Today, for example, we were playing to see who got to go see the gifts first for the bowl game. It was pretty loud and we had Christmas songs playing during practice."
But it's been serious, too. Purdue wants to beat Oklahoma State, to which it is a heavy underdog, on New Year's Day. The Boilermakers might be playing at the right time; they won three straight games to end the season, putting the five-game losing streak that preceded it deep in the past.
"I think they understand we're going down there with the sole purpose to represent the Big Ten and to win," Higgins said. "And to make sure people know that Purdue football is on its way back up."
Purdue practiced early Friday to give the players a chance to head home for a few days. The Boilers will report back on Dec. 26, for an evening practice, then will go again the next day. Friday, Dec. 28, they'll fly down to Dallas.
Higgins says those two days in West Lafayette post-break are important.
"(To) get them refocused and get their minds back on the game plan," he said. "Those are the main things. Hopefully everybody comes back safe and sound. And then we go from there."
But there will be some free time, too. The Boilers will do some charitable work, attend a Mavericks' game and watch the Blue Man Group.
"But through practice and meetings, their days are pretty full," Higgins said. "It will be a good experience for them."
And it appears he might. The senior has been nursing a sore hamstring, suffered in the second-to-last week of the season, then re-aggravated a week-and-a-half ago.
But he's doing better now.
"He's been out running around at practice and doing things full speed," Higgins said. "We've just been trying to limit the amount of volume that he has. I think if we had to play this weekend, he'd be ready to go."
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