Coach Mike Stoops will play Santa Claus this week, giving the Arizona Wildcats the one thing they want most for Christmas: a few days off.
The Wildcats will practice today and Tuesday before taking a two-day holiday break with their families. The Wildcats will meet up in San Antonio on Christmas Eve, five days before their Dec. 29 Alamo Bowl game against No. 16 Oklahoma State.
"I think we need a little bit of a break, going six days straight," Stoops said. "Giving them a little time away at home is good; hopefully, we'll get a little different outcome from a year ago."
The Wildcats practiced straight through the holidays before last year's Holiday Bowl, a decision that rankled some players and may have contributed to their 33-0 loss to Nebraska.
Cornerback Trevin Wade said last spring that the intense practice schedule and limited family time weighed on the team.
The Wildcats are free to travel wherever they like this year, provided they can be in San Antonio by 5 p.m. Friday.
Quarterback Nick Foles will fly to his hometown of Austin, Texas, on Wednesday and spend a few days with his friends and family. He'll make the hour drive to San Antonio Friday afternoon to begin focusing on the Cowboys.
Foles said the time off is "a great time to go home, spend some time with the family and have some good rest time."
"I'll still do my preparation there, but it'll be good for everybody to have a couple days off and get some rest," he said.
Other players won't go as far.
Tailback Nicolas Grigsby will spend his break in Tucson. Grigsby's mother, Bernice, and sister, Destiny, moved to town over the summer; his younger brother, Terris Jones, is a walk-on tailback at the UA.
"For me, it's different. This is my home now," Grigsby said. "A couple more days of practice and then we're good."
If nothing else, the few days off should tighten Arizona's focus when the team reconvenes in San Antonio. The Wildcats (7-5) will need to play one of their best games of the year to have a shot against OSU (10-2) in the nationally televised game.
The UA can't afford another sloppy bowl performance.
"Hopefully," Stoops said, "we'll be a little more focused on the details of playing well."
• What: Arizona (7-5) vs. Oklahoma State (10-2)
• Where: San Antonio
• When: 7:15 p.m. Dec. 29
• TV: ESPN
• Radio: 1290-AM, 1490-AM, 107.5-FM
The week ahead
How the Arizona Wildcats will spend the next seven days:
• Today: Practice on campus
• Tuesday: Practice on campus
• Wednesday: Day off
• Thursday: Day off
• Friday: Arrive in San Antonio around 5 p.m., check into team hotel
• Saturday: Practice at University of the Incarnate Word, 2 p.m.
• Sunday: Practice at University of the Incarnate Word, 10:45 a.m. Team day at SeaWorld, 1:30 p.m.