Mizzou Football prepares for SEC Championship Game
From the University of Missouri
MIZZOU Media Day – HC Gary Pinkel, Mizzou student-athletes – Monday, Dec. 2
Head Coach, Gary Pinkel
On the discussion surrounding other top teams and seemingly not as much for Mizzou…
beauty of it is that you just got to go and play. We can't do any more
than that. You've got to go play, and take care of your own business.
So, that is what
we do. The main difference is all of those teams have won national
championships and we haven't. We are the new kid on the block.That doesn't faze us. I just want to win our game. I'm focused on Auburn. We got a tough task, and I don't care about
anything after that. Let's just focus on Auburn."
On how the players are handling focusing on the game, while also preparing for finals week in schoolwork…
a challenge for our players. This past week was good for a lot of our
players, because they got to jump ahead a little bit on papers and on
studying and so forth.
We talked about it this week, as a staff this morning about making sure
that our players are getting enough rest. As you start losing sleep,
staying up studying and writing papers and things like that, injuries go
up and your focus isn't as good. That's a real
emphasis we place on our football team in our meetings and make sure
they understand to prioritize their time and use it right and take care
of the business they need to take care of and make sure they get a good
On Auburn offensive scheme…
offensive scheme is really good. Their quarterback is a great player.
You have a quarterback like a Brad Smith-type athlete right there. They
run forms of the
triple option with the same principles as the wishbone in a lot of
respects. They have a great offensive scheme, and they are very good at
it. They have a talented tailback, and some other great players. They
present a lot of problems. They have a lot of motioning,
especially at the quarterback position. You aren't going to stop them,
instead you will have to contain them the best you can. We got to get
all the work we can get done this week, because it's going to be a
challenge for us."
On Offensive Coordinator Josh Henson, and what he has done with the offense this year…
think Josh has done a really good job, in addition to coaches Andy Hill
and Pat Washington. They got together this offseason, and we
re-adjusted some things.
We decided to do some different things in the spread portion of our
offensive system. I think he has done an outstanding job."
On Quarterback James Franklin's performance this year…
I think James is pretty good. We were out of sync a little in the first
half of the game last week, but we settled down and had a pretty good
second half. We
want to avoid that. I think James is really doing well. I'm proud of him
on how he competed and all of the things he has done to get back
100-percent. He's been excited to get back and have the ability to
On Linebacker Andrew Wilson's importance this weekend against Auburn…
a really good and physical player. He's done a really good job. He's
had a really great year. He's a captain, and a leader. We're playing a
week, that is a great athlete and you've got to play well and you have
to make sure you have someone assigned to him or he will hurt you bad.
He's going to make some plays and hopefully he can reduce the amount of
plays Auburn's quarterback makes."
On the biggest differences between the 2012 and 2013 football teams…
biggest difference is that we are healthy. The kids had good attitudes
last season, but it was just a win then a loss then a win then a loss
almost all year.
These guys battled through it through. The senior class did a good job
on battling through the adversity."
On any similarities between Mizzou and Auburn's play…
think so, but the programs are a lot different. Gus (Malzahn) has done a
remarkable job with that program. The programs are a lot different, but
we both had poor
years a year ago and we both have come back to play for the SEC
Championship this season. I guess that connects us in that fashion."
On the impact for the program in playing on a national stage like the SEC Championship…
think if you have been in the national top ten for most of the season,
that it's not only good for the Missouri football program but it's also
good for the University
of Missouri, the state of Missouri, and the city of Columbia, Missouri.
That's how a sport can be an asset to the university in a really
positive way. It's great. The more consistent you are in that area, the
more you reap the benefits of that. It effects a
lot more than just winning a football game."
On the team goal of reaching the conference championship game before the season started…
always in our program, as a goal just like it was in the Big 12. First
of all, to win a national championship it starts out with winning your
division. If you
can't win your division then you can't get to your championship game. We
have three blocks in our locker room. The top is the national
championship, one is the SEC East Championship, and then a bowl game. So
those are constant goals that we have in our program.
So they're out in front of us. One of the things they (the seniors)
talked about was raising the standards. Not only getting back to winning
and going to bowl games, but competing for championships. It was a real
emphasis for our team. Goals are always there.
The seniors put a real emphasis on the standards for championships and
we won three divisional championships and played in two championships in
the Big 12. That's what the goals should be. Bowl games are obviously
big too. That reset the mind set of why we're
here and what we're about. And I'm interested to see how things turn
On the Mizzou football team overcoming preseason media expectations…
I think a little bit of the outside expectations are a little bit apart
of it. In 2007, it was like the same thing, we went down to the Big 12
meetings and they
picked us low and the players were all upset because of where we got
picked. I don't pay attention to it anyway. I think they've been driven.
Last year they took a big hit and they're used to winning around here.
The whole senior class, it started with them
and they just got back to work and did it. We've formed a great
chemistry on this team, and every year the chemistry is a little
different. It's not always when things are going well. We had little
things that had happened internally. Not big things but little
things that helped bring us together in terms of interactions with
players and other things. That is typical for every year, but we have a
really close football team. They prepare, and they play hard. We have
some good athletes."
On earning respect throughout the entire football program…
just wanted to be respected. When people expect you to win here and you
have a losing season then you lose your respect. So I said when I got
hired here at a press
conference, that I wanted the University of Missouri football program to
be respected in the league they're playing in. At that time, it was the
Big 12 and now it is the SEC for us. That's really important to me. Not
only to be respected for winning our games,
but for also graduating our players, doing the right things with kids
and the right things with people. Just a total respect for the whole
operation here, and you know last year was a difficult one. You take a
hit but you get back to work and that's what we
did. Not just me, but everybody."
Sophomore Offensive Lineman, Evan Boehm
On what they have seen from Auburn's defense so far…
are an SEC football team and they are SEC defense. They are fast and
strong and they get to the ball. It's our job up front to make sure that
they don't get
to James (Franklin). We have to keep James off the ground and then we
have to make these holes for the running backs to go do their thing. You
saw Henry (Josey) when he got that one hole, and how fast he got out of
that. That is something special to see, and
what a better person to get that for then Henry. It's our job to keep
the defense from James and get the holes for our running backs and
that's what we're going to set out and get better at that this week."
On the differences between the physicality of the offenses over the past two seasons…
can definitely tell when you have a tight end with his hand on the
ground. Eric Waters has a done a great job this whole year with putting
his hand on the ground
and coming off those blocks. He has only gotten better, and that is
something special for Eric. Sean (Culkin) is doing the same thing. We
have two special tight ends that can go into the game at any time."
On whether the transformation of offenses would have happened if Mizzou had remained in the Big 12 Conference…
defenses are different and it's hard telling what would have happened
had we stayed in the Big 12, but at the same time we are in the SEC and
we are playing in
the SEC Championship and we are the SEC East Champs. That is something
special to talk about right now. We are going out and playing the game
like we have these last 12 weeks."
Redshirt Senior Linebacker, Donovan Bonner
On what Auburn brings to the table…
brings a lot of guys with athleticism, on both sides of the ball. Great
defense. Great offensive line. Athletic quarterback, receivers, and a
game. They're a complete team."
On what Andrew Wilson brings for the other linebackers…
Competitor. That's what he's doing. He's a great athlete. Overall,
Andrew is a complete on-and- off the field player. His big hits drive
the team. We might
get a play and Andrew flies down and knocks a guy out. It fuels us, it
fuels the sidelines, coaches, and everyone involved. He's been doing
that for years. He's a great player."
On the challenges of defending the Auburn offense…
a tough task, and it's a big challenge. They're very diverse and
dynamic in what they do with the run. They can do so much off the run,
like a quarterback keep,
handoff to the wide receiver, zone read, pop pass, etc. There's a lot
that goes into that. We've got to focus on them this week."
On the biggest differences in the locker room between this season and last…
room factor, I think we needed that bad season last year to get to
where we are now. We have a lot of guys who have come closer together in
the locker room.
There's not a lot of arguing or back-and-forth on either side of the
ball. This is a close group, and that's the biggest difference."
Redshirt Sophomore Linebacker, Kentrell Brothers
On the effectiveness of Auburn's offense…
haven't really seen anything different than what any other offense is
doing, it's just the fact that they've rushed for more yards than any
team in the SEC. That
really sticks out to me. That's big in the SEC, rushing for almost 300
yards against Alabama. So they're a really good rushing team, and that's
something we're looking forward to stopping."
On Auburn's quarterback play…
a quarterback that can run the ball well. He's very physical and he's
not that bad of a thrower either. Having those two options as a
quarterback can always
hurt any defense, so that's something we've got to do a good job of
On the differences between last year's defense compared to this season…
think the coaches have done a great job of giving us a good game plan.
But we've also done a better job of reading our keys. Last year we were
hit with a lot of
play action, and we gave up way too many big plays. This year we've done
a great job of limiting that, and that's something Coach Steckel
On expectations of the game atmosphere in Atlanta's Georgia Dome…
expect it to be crazy. I've never been to an NFL stadium before, and I
heard that's where we get to play. I've already seen a lot of posts on
Facebook and Twitter
about all the fans who are coming, so I expect it to be a fun-filled
On remaining grounded, and blocking out the hype of a championship game…
just treat it like another game. That's what I've been trying to do
this year. We've been in a lot of big games this year. I'd say four or
five and getting too
hyped about it can lead to being good, or it can be really bad for you.
I've just got to try to treat it like another game, although it's
clearly not. We're going to have to try and treat it like that, and get
the job done."
Senior Offensive Lineman, Max Copeland
On the feeling of being in the SEC Championship game…
football. This is why you play the game. Can't you just feel the energy
around this place and around this town? I'm excited to be a part of it,
and excited to
be at the eye of the storm. It's why we play. We work hard all
off-season to get to reap these fruits of our labor, so we're excited to
go out and compete."
On Coach Pinkel's success as a coach, and being tied as the winningest-coach in Mizzou football history…
speaks volumes about how great of a coach he is, and how well he does
his job. Those winning stats are indicative of how well he has done as a
coach here. He's
a very deserving person."
On the differences in physicality of the offenses being played now at Mizzou compared to the offense from previous seasons…
I think it's a really good representation of our offensive coordinator,
Coach Henson. It's funny how coaches and their coaching styles and
often be representative of their personalities. It's kind of cool how it
manifests itself into something that they are. I think that is why
football is more power-form than a science. Coach Henson wanted to
design an offense that was a two-prong approach. We
have the finesse of the spread offense, but when it's time to put your
knuckles to the dirt, we can excel at that too. That is something that
we take a lot of pride in."
Senior Quarterback, James Franklin
On his observations from looking at tape on Auburn…
going to give us a good game. Their defense is really good. They have a
really good front seven, and they're going to make us have to work
hard. We're going
to make sure we take advantage of every opportunity we have."
On his personal emotions against Texas A&M, and this week heading into the SEC Championship…
pretty excited to be honest. I'm pretty thankful to be a part of that,
and to be a part of this team. It was really exciting for me, so I was
glad to be a part
of it. That's one of the goals we had set before the season and to get
where we are now and knowing we were able to accomplish it and knowing
how great of a team I'm a part of. I feel really good."
Senior Defensive Back, E.J. Gaines
On covering Texas A&M Wide Receiver, Mike Evans last week…
that was my last game in our stadium (Faurot Field). To come out and
have my best game that I've had there, I felt like I did pretty well on a
and a great quarterback."
On the challenges of stopping Auburn's offense this Saturday in Atlanta…
stopping the run. That's what they like to do. So stop the run and make
them pass it, and I think we'll definitely have some success."
On Andrew Wilson's leadership style among the defense…
all don't play on the football team so he doesn't really talk to you,
but he definitely talks to his team and his players. He's a great
leader. He comes in and
makes plays on the field, and he's a great guy off the field. Everyone
loves him, and he's definitely a great captain and a good leader for
On the last time he had to be extra prepared for an offense like Auburn…
think every game, we definitely have to come up and make plays in the
run game. That's something that our coaches expect out of us, and
there's nothing different
this week. They can run the football well, so it's a bigger challenge
but I feel like we're up for that challenge."
Redshirt Junior Defensive Lineman, Marcus Golden
On what it means to him to now be on a team playing in the SEC Championship…
knew what it was going to take to get here. A lot of people expect me
to say ‘it was harder for me to get here, and it was hard', but it was
just as hard as it
is for everyone else. A lot of guys on this team have to work to get
here to Mizzou, and reach that goal. I knew it would be a long ride, but
I just stuck with my family. My mom and dad stayed on me, and we worked
hard together to end up getting here."
On how former Tiger defensive lineman, Sheldon Richardson, helped him out personally…
and I talked a lot. He would check on me when I was at JUCO and made
sure I was staying focused and seeing if I was alright. I give him a lot
of respect for
helping me out and keeping me focused and knowing what I wanted to do
and knowing I wanted to make it to Mizzou."
On how he made the jump to becoming a major contributor this year…
work. I know what I can do. Football is football. Whenever it's time to
play football, I'm ready. I'm a self-starter. Anytime I'm on the field
I'm a starter.
I know I can do just as much as anybody out there. I just want to help
the team. I always had [the push] through my mom and my dad and my big
brothers. Everything I did (school or a sport) they pushed me to go hard
and work hard. When I go out there for Michael
Sam, I feel like I should go out and work hard and do even better [than
Redshirt Junior Tailback, Henry Josey
On the feeling of scoring the game-winning touchdown against Texas A&M…
was just happy to be able to do that for my teammates. It was a
blessing to be able to do it and just to get us to the SEC Championship
that way was an awesome
feeling. I couldn't be happier with it. My teammates have shown me a lot
of love for that and I really appreciate that, but I'm really just
ready to move on from it."
On balancing the emotions of being in the SEC Championship game…
always stay pretty humble. That's something that we have been doing
throughout this whole year. So, I don't feel like anybody is going to
have that added pressure
on them or have to worry about anything like that. So, it will just be
another game for us, and that's how we're going to take it right now."
Redshirt Junior Tailback, Marcus Murphy
On believing if this Missouri team has ‘luck, destiny or fate on its side'…
really, I just know that if you work hard, it will pay off. We've been
working hard all year, and we are just waiting for it to pay off."
On seeing the ending of the Auburn-Alabama game…
first saw it around 12 o'clock on Saturday night. I heard about it
during the game that they won on some crazy play. I saw it Saturday
night and it was crazy. We're
looking forward to this week and going out and playing hard and getting
ready to beat them."
On not being satisfied in making the SEC Championship and staying hungry…
a big thing. We can't just be complacent. We can't be happy that we are
here. We have to keep fighting hard and we have to keep pushing to get
to our goal,
which is the national championship or wherever it takes us. We just have
to come out and play hard in this game and see where it goes."
Redshirt Sophomore Defensive Lineman, Shane Ray
On the transition from playing in the Big 12, to now playing in the SEC…
SEC is definitely known as one of the top conferences in the country.
The players you're going to see in this conference are some of the best
day-in and day-out.
That's kind of what you expect nowadays. Coming from the Big 12, just as
competitors, it's awesome to play against those guys and to be able to
say ‘I played in a game against Johnny Manziel' or ‘hey, I know that
On whether or not the defense will change their mindset against Auburn's running QB…
at all. Our game plan is going to stay the same, which is to be
relentless and attack. Just like this past week, we understood that good
players are going to
make plays. You can't limit someone to not do anything if they're at
that kind of caliber. The best we can do as a defensive line is to
continue to be relentless and keep the pressure on him."
On how the team feels about everyone calling them the underdogs against Auburn…
we kind of enjoy it. You're only the underdog if you think you're the
underdog, and we don't see ourselves that way. We find ourselves to just
be a group
of guys who are going to come out and just play to the best of our
ability against anyone you put in front of us. All we do is focus on
what we can do better as a team and go out there next week and play
another good football team and see who's going to come
out on top."
Redshirt Junior Defensive Lineman, Lucas Vincent
On facing Auburn's Nick Marshall…
"Keeping our gaps. We have to keep our gaps (as a defensive line unit), then they can't run in them. It's as simple as that."
On Coach Pinkel's importance to the team, and the transformation of the program this season…
great. Everything is just so different. He hasn't changed anything but
honestly it's the freedom he has given the seniors to lead this team."
On the differences in the locker room from last season to this season…
just a lot more fun. Everyone is laughing, and joking around. After
practice last year, we would just go in there and hang our heads a
little bit and be like
‘well, we got another week.' Now, it's like ‘let's go play some football
this is fun."
Redshirt Senior Wide Receiver, L'Damian Washington
On the team not running a play until his touchdown was reviewed against Texas A&M…
was my mindset. They kept yelling at me to get lined up to run another
play, and I'm like ‘no, I'm not lining up.' I understand that he
couldn't really challenge
it, but I was trying to buy some time so the guys upstairs could look
and challenge the play. I knew I had it."
On not being complacent, and moving the team forward…
think that's the message that we have to relay to some of the younger
guys who want to be satisfied with just getting to the SEC Championship.
I think our team
does a great job of understanding that as we overcome obstacles this
season, we've still got another obstacle that lies ahead. So that's the
goal right now. We want to be SEC champions. If you really want to go
down in history, let's be SEC champions in our
second season here."
On the frustrations of not becoming bowl eligible last season…
don't think I watched one bowl game to be honest with you. It kind of
ate at me, knowing that my team deserved to be in a bowl game. And I
think that's kind of
when we came up with the mindset of, ‘why just talk bowl games?' Over
that winter break, I came back early to finish a class and there were
about 15 other guys here working out, mostly seniors. They were in the
weight room, at the indoor [facility], on the
practice field and getting that extra work in. That's when I knew we
probably had something special for this year, guys were back early and
were hungry to get the season started."
Redshirt Senior Linebacker, Andrew Wilson
On how his quiet personality translates to being a leader on this team…
not an overly talkative leader but I feel like I say whatever needs to
be said whenever it needs to be said. I don't yell a lot, but I do what
needs to be done."
On what he has seen in Auburn's offense…
running game is unbelievable. It'll be a challenge. They have a lot of
misdirection. Their quarterback runs really well, and almost just as
well as their running
backs. They do a lot of different things. We'll just have to be ready at
On how Auburn compares to Texas A&M…
quarterbacks run really well, and obviously Auburn runs a lot more. Not
getting caught up in [Auburn's] motion and staying focused are big keys