Dec. 30, 2013
DALLAS - The final full practice of the season - and the final full practice of 22 seniors' careers - took place Monday on a cold but bright, sunny morning at Highland Park High School, the start of a busy day that began 48 hours before the Heart of Dallas Bowl kickoff. It was also a day to pause, reflect and relax a little.
Pre-season preparations for the centennial campaign of North Texas football began in January 2013, and one year later that season will finish in January 2014. "That's a sign you had a very good season," North Texas coach Dan McCarney said.
The Mean Green's practice was intense and even more vocal than Sunday's session. The team appeared loose and desperately ready to hit someone in a different uniform after practicing against one another for three weeks. More than a few players commented on the fact of this being their final practice of the season. Below is a photo gallery of images from the end of the final practice, as the team relaxed with one another before gathering around coach McCarney.
Photo Gallery - after the final practice
The coaching staff named the most valuable players of their scout teams, the squads who have spent the last three weeks simulating UNLV in practices leading up to the Heart of Dallas Bowl. The offensive MVP was quarterback Dajon Williams, and defensive MVP went to linebacker Brandon Davis.
Reporters from the Las Vegas Review-Journal and Las Vegas Sun conducted interviews with Mean Green linebacker Zach Orr and coach McCarney after practice Monday.
Following morning practice and lunch, the team went to TopGolf for an afternoon of golf, which for many of the Mean Green was a new experience. Mostly, it was a chance for players and coaches to relax a little.
Photo Gallery - TopGolf
North Texas players certainly shouldn't go to bed hungry Monday night. After practice, the team had lunch around 2 p.m., then had wings and spring rolls at TopGolf, then had dinner at Babb Brothers BBQ, then get a snack around 9 p.m. before turning in for the night. Following the two afternoon feeds, there were more than a few take-home boxes at Babb Brothers.
Following dinner, the team departed for the hotel, mixing with the incoming North Texas crowd that filled Babb Brothers for a live remote broadcast on KTCK The Ticket, 1310 AM and 96.7 FM. It was standing-room only, and everyone in attendance were Mean Green fans. Guests on the hour-long radio show were coach Dan McCarney, athletic director Rick Villarreal, North Texas legend and NFL Hall of Famer Joe Greene, and the Mean Green's all-time leading rusher, Lance Dunbar, who is recovering from knee surgery that ended his second season with the Dallas Cowboys.
Photo Gallery - Babb Brothers BBQ
Tuesday morning, North Texas will have a team photo taken and then have a final walk-through, both at the Cotton Bowl. In the afternoon, the bowl will hold a media conference, attended by both coaches, before a pep rally takes place at the Fair Park Band Shell. at 5 p.m. Tuesday night, North Texas will hold a New Year's Eve Party at Thanksgiving Tower, although no players will attend.