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  The Finish Line

Sept. 5, 2009 at Cowboys Stadium marked the beginning of Landry Jones' career as an Oklahoma Sooner. Jan. 4, 2012 at Cowboys Stadium will signal the end. In between, the senior quarterback has left an indelible legacy on the OU program.
 
The Big 12's all-time leader in passing yards and total offense, Jones spoke to the media Monday morning and sounded like a player that is accepting of his college career coming to a close.
 
 
"I'm just really thankful, not many people get to play 52 games in their career," he said. "I'm thankful for what I've been able to do and the position that God has put me in to be on this team and part of this university and play as long as I have."
 
Hearing from different facets of the Oklahoma offense Monday reinforced just how much of an impact Jones has had as a Sooner.
 
"He's represented the University of Oklahoma about as well as you can," junior offensive lineman Gabe Ikard said. "As talented as he is on the field, he's a better guy off the field."
 
"He's a great player," junior fullback Trey Millard added. "It's been a blessing to play with him these last three years."
 
Though Friday will be Jones' final game as a Sooner, he said that he is ready for the next chapter in his life.
 
"It's been exciting to be in college and be here at the University of Oklahoma, but me and [wife] Whitney are both excited about the new chapter."
 
  First-Class Experience

BC-what? The Sooners have long forgotten about the evening of December 2, when they learned they wouldn't be playing in a BCS bowl. That's because from their perspective, it doesn't feel any different. The Oklahoma football program has been treated like royalty since stepping foot in the Gaylord Texan on Sunday.
 
"This is the best bowl experience I've had for sure," junior center Gabe Ikard said. "It's an amazing hotel. We're practicing in Cowboys Stadium. They're treating us absolutely fantastic. Coach Stoops made it clear that we were going to a bowl that did it right. Every negative thought I had about not playing in a BCS game is gone because this is as good as it gets."
 

 
While the elite hospitality has been unique itself, the week kicked off Saturday evening with a welcome dinner with both teams at Cowboys Stadium.
 
"It's really neat," Millard said. "I think it's kind of cool the first thing we did was the opening ceremony, being in the same room as Texas A&M. This is the first bowl I've been to that I've actually seen the other team prior to the game, which is kind of a different experience but it's definitely neat. The people here treat us awesome so it really does feel like a BCS bowl. It's just a great experience."
 
  Quick Start Sooners

On 10 occasions this season, the Sooners have put points on the board first, including eight situations that went to the end zone. Coming into the game focused and getting off to a fast start has been a key to the Sooners' 10-2 record and Cotton Bowl berth, a trend that will hopefully continue Friday.
 
"It's huge," Millard said. "You kind of get more control for the game almost. If you get out to a big early lead, it limits some of the things that (the opponent) can do. It just kind of changes the game so you definitely want to get out to that early lead so that you can continue to make big plays."
 

 
That point has been driven home throughout OU's Cotton Bowl preparations, as the Sooners are well aware they're facing a high-powered Texas A&M squad that ranks third in both total offense and scoring offense.
 
"It's real important, especially when you're playing against a team like A&M," senior wide receiver Justin Brown said. "They're an explosive offense and an explosive team in itself. It's going to be real important to get off to a fast start, and not only a fast start but you have to keep playing each snap like it could be a big play."
 
 
 
Junior WR Kenny Stills
"It compares with all the other bowls and sits up there just as high, being that we've been to a BCS game and a non-BCS game. They love having us here. They're doing a great job with all the situations they've brought us to and the bowl gifts. We're having a great time. I don't think there's any place we'd rather be."

 
Senior WR Justin Brown
"It's been a great experience. The Cotton Bowl has done a great job of giving us gift, taking us places and giving us food. They've done a great job. Everything has been first-class and what I expected."

 
Senior QB Landry Jones
“It has been a ride. It’s been fun and I have been extremely blessed to come this far in my career to have a chance to end it where I started it. I am thankful that God has allowed me to do great things at (OU).”

 
Junior C Gabe Ikard
"(A fast start is) essential. They're not a team you want to have to play behind against and allow their pass rush to get going. It's going to be interesting to see how our defense stops Johnny Manziel and their offense. We're prepared well and we're going to have a great week of practice. We'll be ready to go on Friday."
 
Junior FB Trey Millard
“I think I am more of a leader. I have become more vocal and taken on more responsibility. Just being able to help guys out and put them in the right place is definitely a part of me that has changed and grown into as a player. For example, in practice I am more focused on the task of keeping the guys around me on point.”
 
Freshman WR Trey Metoyer
"It's the way we run our offense. We're more consistent. I feel like we can run, pass and we have a whole lot of weapons on the field. I feel like when our offense is on the field, there's no telling when we could score. We're going to come out Friday and see how we match up."
 
Head Coach Bob Stoops
“On behalf of our football program here at the University of Oklahoma, we are incredibly excited about this opportunity to compete down here at the Cotton Bowl. We are looking forward to play an excellent football team in Texas A&M, a team we have a long history with and did not get to play this year. Texas A&M is a great football team that Coach Kevin Sumlin and his staff have done a great job in a short period of time in building. It is a great opportunity, a great venue to play. Our players are excited."
BOWL CENTRAL
Our digital media tandem is following the Oklahoma Sooners every step of the way throughout the Cotton Bowl trip, be it practice or one of the great events. Follow the action in real time via our bowl coverage blog, which is updated constantly with content:

Sooner Cotton Bowl Coverage
SOCIAL MEDIA
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MONDAY WITH THE MEDIA
Select Oklahoma offensive players and coaches met with media on Monday morning. Check out our video coverage below:

Video  
WR Justin Brown (Media)
Video  
OL Gabe Ikard (Media)
Video  
QB Landry Jones (Media)
Video  
FB Trey Millard (Media)
Video  
WR Kenny Stills (Media)

MONDAY'S PRACTICE

Oklahoma held its second on-site practice at Cowboys Stadium on Monday. Check out photos:

Photos  
Stadium Practice 2 (29 Pics)