STILLWATER — Jason Ray knows the Cotton Bowl well. And he knows Oklahoma State's opponent, Missouri, even better.
The first-year Cowboy receivers coach played at Missouri and, coincidentally, ended his career in the 2008 Cotton Bowl, where the Tigers routed Arkansas 38-7.
Ray recently talked to The Oklahoman about matching up against his former team, how the Tiger offense compares to the one he played in and his favorite Cotton Bowl memories.
What was your first reaction when you found out Missouri would be your Cotton Bowl opponent?
“I was excited. It was one of the scenarios that I think a lot of people had already brought up before it was even announced, so I was kind of prepared for it. In some ways, ready for it to be made official, really. Once I heard it was gonna be Cotton Bowl and (Missouri's) name was in the mix and that we would be matched up against them, (I thought) it's ironic, it's a coincidence. But it will be fun. It will be exciting.”
How many people do you still know in that program?
“That entire staff is pretty much there that I played under. Obviously with Coach (Gary) Pinkel, I was his third recruiting class. From the strength staff to the medical personnel to the training staff, all those people are still there. The equipment staff. I was there in the spring hanging out, got a chance to talk to Coach Pinkel and Andy Hill, who was my receivers coach at the time, he's now coaching quarterbacks. Don Barnes, saw him, he's the equipment manager. So a lot of familiar names, a lot of familiar faces. It will be interesting to see everybody, especially at a bowl site where you've got some time and there's functions where both teams are there. It will be good. I bet Coach (Josh) Henson (Missouri's offensive coordinator who played and coached at OSU) has some similar sentiments in that way, too.”
How similar is Missouri's offense compared to when you played there?
“I think with Coach Henson there, he was adding a different twist to it and things like that. I haven't watched them offensively at all, and the (defensive staff) hasn't really asked me for my opinion on them at this moment as we prepare. I'd have to watch them to kind of see if they're doing a lot of the same things. I know that they're still an empty team. I think that's what they want their base to be. But right now I'm focused on watching the defense and seeing what those guys are doing and getting the game plan together. So from an offensive standpoint, I'd just have to watch them, watch a couple games and kind of see what they're doing. I know they play fast, they play with tempo and they've got a lot of good talent out there.”