The sounds were familiar and the routine was well-known by all in attendance.
After days of pulling on pads and crashing together in orchestrated patterns designed to best approximate the realities of playing Fresno State on Wednesday in the 13th Hawai'i Bowl, the Rice Owls gathered one final time in Aloha Stadium on Tuesday afternoon for a final game week ritual, the team walk-through.
The hours of meetings had come to an end, the time to indoctrinate oneself about the potential strategic initiatives of Fresno State had passed. Now it was a simple, routine exercise, one that that had been enacted 12 times previously during the 2014 season by the Rice Owls.
The Owls gathered for a quick stretch and then a series of call and response exercised designed to affirm that each of the Owls was aware of their assignments in any particular situation.
Routine, perhaps in the context of a full seasons of game-day eves, but hardly routine in the sense that this was the last time many of the Rice seniors would take part first-hand in this series of seemingly routine exercises, since this truly was the curtain call on the 2014 football season.
While the players might be venturing into this realm for the first time, for head coach David Bailiff and staff, this exercise was an annual affair--albeit one that took on far greater significance given the Owls recent run of three consecutive bowl berths for the first time in school history.
Emotions were bubbling near the surface, but Bailiff and staff took great care to attempt to narrow the focus upon this game to a familiar objective.
"It is an emotional time but you try to keep it in check, but I guarantee you that tonight they will talk in the team meeting that this is the last time they will put that Rice blue on," Bailiff said. "Some games
With the additional challenge of bowl festivities hovering over every moment of the current Owls stay in the 50th state, Bailiff and staff have done their best to create an familiar environment, be it through the playing of familiar home practice music or the familiarity that comes from practicing at the same site as the actual game to be played.
"We try to stay on the routine we've been on all year, but today we did go a little bit longer because we want them to know there is one big event left, " Bailiff noted. "I think we've prepared well in our workouts in Houston and I think we've prepared well on the island.
"Any time it's been about the work, they've come here and been focused," Bailiff noted. "I believe we've done about all we can do and now we just need to go out and perform and execute tomorrow like they've done all week. "