Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel and players met with the media Monday afternoon.
NORMAN, Okla. --
Oklahoma meets Missouri in the 2008 Big 12 Championship
Game on Saturday night in Kansas City. Last week, the
Sooners (11-1 Overall, 7-1 Big 12) defeated rival Oklahoma
State to complete the regular season while the Tigers
(9-3 Overall, 5-3 Big 12) dropped a 40-37 game to Kansas
at Arrowhead Stadium.
Big 12 Championship Central
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plus TV, radio and internet options for fans following
the Sooners across the nation. ABC has the national
broadcast beginning at 7 p.m. Central.
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live from Arrowhead Stadium on Saturday
night. The feature provides instantaneous reaction
from the field as the game unfolds including observations
from our staff, notes from the media relations staff
in the press box and fan emails during the game.
Mizzou head coach Gary Pinkel and select players met
with the media on Monday in Columbia. Quotes below
are courtesy Missouri Athletics Media Relations.
Coach Gary Pinkel
"First of all, injury update. Castine Bridges
has a torn meniscus. He'll have surgery tomorrow morning.
The extent of it, they think it's significant. He'll
be out this game and most likely our for whatever bowl
game we go to. That's unfortunate, he's played very,
very well. He's a great, great player, and great kid.
He's done a lot for our program. That certainly will
be a loss.
"Mike Prince, one of our backup offensive
linemen, had surgery, an appendectomy, last week. He
missed last week's game, he'll will this week's game.
We'll probably get him back in a couple of weeks for
our bowl game. We have some guys with bumps and bruises.
We expect everyone else to play. Chase (Coffman) certainly
played in the game and did some good things. We're
just kind of working through that. Hopefully we'll
have him back and ready to go. Other than that, we're
in pretty good shape.
"I also wanted to comment about
the gold jerseys. The seniors came to me and said they
wanted to have a game where they represented all the
players who have played at Mizzou, whether at Homecoming
or at the KU game. Really, what that was about, was
every player who's play in 115 years wore that jersey
or that number. Obviously we would have liked to have
a victory with that, I thought it was a nice gesture.
"Oklahoma is a great football team, probably playing
as well as anyone in the country right now. They've
been very dominating in the last 5-6 games and have
been very impressive to watch. It's a great opportunity
to us, and we're looking forward to the challenge.
We're excited to play in the Big 12 Championship game."
On Oklahoma's advantage with the turnover margin:
"They're second in the nation in turnover margin.
They're +14 and we're -1. They're good at getting the
ball out and creating short fields for their offense.
That aspect is huge. That's the responsibility of the
running backs to hang on to the ball and quarterbacks
when they throw the ball and receivers have with the
football. If (Oklahoma) gets two turnovers, we've got
to get four. I think that's going to be huge in this
game, and historically, with us it's been the same
way. When you look at turnovers in our offense, it's
On avoiding distractions going into the game:
"If it's a great win or a great loss, if you're
thinking about it, it's not good in our preparation
(for the next game). If they're elated because they
won and don't prepare right, that's a problem."
On making adjustments on defense:
"Last week, we gave up big plays. That's communication
issues. Bottom line, that's my job. I was disappointed
with those. We will evaluate what we did poorly and
we move on. We had done a really good job at reducing
big plays going into that game, so that was really
a disappointment…It was surprising. I'm responsible.
Obviously it was frustrating, but we have to play better."
On Chase Coffman battling his injury:
"We all know what a healthy 100 percent Chase
Coffman is. By the way, an 80 percent Chase isn't bad.
Maybe he'll do better after the experience of playing
and doing better with it. There are some things you
have to work through, it's unfortunate he has it, but
you can't do much about it…It hurts a little
bit. But you have to be able to play through injuries.
Everyone goes through that. We all have to deal with
those things. Bottom line is, you have to get through
On defensive struggles in the Big 12 conference:
"There are usually two to three defenses that
are super outstanding. I think it's the potency of
the offenses at this time and the high-level quarterbacks…It's
also the spread offense. More people going no-huddle…I
think the offenses have changed in our league too,
and that's a big part of it."
On the season so far:
"When you're 9-3 and disappointed, that suggests
you made a lot of progress. I've talked to other coaches
in this league, and if you place all your hopes on
going to the national championship, then except for
about four teams, you're tremendously disappointed.
There's a fine line between being 11-1 and 9-3; when
you're 11-1 you make those plays, when you're 9-3,
you don't. Do I wish our record was better? Certainly,
we all do. But that's the struggle we have. You want
to be the difference, the reason there are so few (teams)
left is because it's so hard to do."
On what this year's success means:
"What's a success? If you don't win the Big 12
Championship game, that's not a successful season?
That's unfair. We've done a lot of good things. If
I could be in this position for the rest of my time
here, I'd be the happiest guy in America. I'm very
proud of my football team."
On getting the chance to play Oklahoma in
the Big 12 Championship game:
"I think anytime you have an opportunity like
this, it's great. Not many people give us a chance.
This is awesome. This is what you're in it for. I'm
excited about it and my team's excited about it. I
have a great respect for them. We'll get ready to play."
QB Chase Daniel
"Well this is where we wanted to be at the start
of the season and it's finally here. It's been awhile
since we played Oklahoma last year at the Big 12 Championship
game. We're excited to be playing for it. I told the
team yesterday that there are 10 other teams that would
die to be in our spot right now and we deserve to be
here. We won the North and we're excited about the
chance to play."
On being the underdogs:
"We've been underdogs before. Oklahoma is playing
about as well as any team in the nation right now.
It's not really a mental state, it's about us going
out there and executing the offense, defense, and special
teams and putting all three phases together. We haven't
done that very often this year and we still win ball
games so if we go out there and put all three phases
together we feel good about our chances."
On the toughness of Chase Coffman:
"We're talking about a warrior in Chase. He'll
do whatever it takes to get to the field and stay on
the field. Andrew Jones is obviously going to be substituting
in for him here and there to give him a break so he
can be full speed when need be. He's a warrior. He's
going to want to play every single snap he possibly
On how to start fast this week against Oklahoma:
"I think you just have to get going. You have
to get pumped up and be ready to go in all facets of
the game: mentally, physically and emotionally- you've
got to be ready to go. You've got to be juiced up.
There's nothing much more important in our guys lives
right now than this game. For this Missouri team this
is our biggest game up to date.
On playing with a 'chip on their shoulders':
"Not necessarily a chip. We just want respect
and it's not going to be given to us so we just need
to go out there and do it."
On a remedy for the problems found last week against
"We just have to protect the football as well
as we can. We're trying to make plays out there with
the football. We can't have any turnovers. If we have
any, it's going to be a long day. It all starts with
me. I have to do a better job of protecting the football.
I have to do a better job of studying film if need
be. I have to do a better job of knowing where they're
going to be on defense. I'm sure they're going to disguise
On what a win against Oklahoma would mean for Missouri:
"It just means that we reached all of our goals
this year that we set out to reach. Exactly like Coach
Pinkel said, our goal from day one was to win the Big
12 North Championship and play for the Big 12 Championship.
And that's exactly what we're doing. Also our goal
is to win a Big 12 Championship. We've put ourselves
in the position to do so. It doesn't matter our record.
It doesn't matter what happened in the past. All that
matters is from here on out."
On what he thinks the crowd at Arrowhead will be
like this weekend:
"I think there should be a lot of Mizzou people.
It's in their home state and it's two hours from Columbia.
But OU travels well wherever they go. So I wouldn't
be surprised if it's 50/50. Would I love for it to
be 70/30 Mizzou? Sure. Does it have a chance to be
that way? Yeah. It's about the fans. I know they want
to see us go out on top and this is their chance to
so we hope there's a lot of Mizzou fans out there."
LB Brock Christopher
On the defense's job with turnovers:
"The offense is going to turn balls over every
once in awhile, and you've got to be able to go out
and stop the other team. We kind of take pride in that,
we were able to do that—especially in this last
game on that first [interception] we shut them down
on three-and-out, and made them kick a field goal.
That was good, but we've got to be more consistent
in that. [Turnovers] are going to happen from time
to time, and our job is to get more turnovers than
the offense turns the ball over… we've got to
have a positive turnover margin."
On how to improve:
"All across the board, we've got to play better.
We've got to get off the field on third downs. It shouldn't
come down to the last play like that. It shouldn't
come down to, you know, a fourth-and-ten where they're
able to throw the ball like that and win the game.
If we do things more consistently throughout the game,
it shouldn't come down to that."
On what good defensive goals are:
"It just comes down to winning the game. Obviously
the offenses in the Big 12 have had a really good year
this year. You go out and you try to win the game,
you've got to work as an offense, as a defense, as
special teams, you've got to work together. A lot of
times, either the defense is off or the defense is
off, and the other half has got to be able to come
out there and pick that up."
On the miscommunications in Saturday's game:
"I don't really have any answers for why it happened.
It's just… we've got to be able to communicate
better. Getting this late in the season, there's really
no excuse for it, and that's on us as seniors and us
as guys who have played a lot… we can't let
that happen. It didn't happen a whole lot, but it happened
in some crucial situations and there's no excuse for
DL Stryker Sulak
On whether the secondary is to blame:
"No, I don't think so at all. For the secondary
to be put in some of those positions, that falls on
the D-line. I take full responsibility for that. And
the last play—if anyone wants to say that's why
we lost the game, they're wrong. That's nothing to
do with JG's [Justin Garrett's] fault. He was in coverage
for 5 seconds… that's way too long. That starts
up front. We've got to keep pressure on [Todd Reesing],
and we didn't do our job."
On how to prevent Big 12 offenses from scoring:
"In a conference like this, that's what it's about.
Every team in this conference is able to put up 50
points a game, so you've got to have a defense that's
able to stop them. The few stops you get, you've got
to make successes out of them on both sides of the
On team goals:
"You can't really measure [success outside of
wins and losses], but you do have your team goals.
Our team goal is [to allow] 20 points or less. We know
that our offense is pretty explosive, and they're able
to go out there and put up 20-something points per
game, no problem. So for the defense, our goal is less
than 20 points per game and no scores in the fourth
WR Denario Alexander
On the Big 12 Championship:
"I'm very excited. It's come at a good time. We've
just got to go out and blow up this game against them,
and just make the best of this opportunity. That will
help us out… they've [Oklahoma] got a lot of
distractions. They're worried about Texas and Texas
Tech, and the way that they made it into the Championship
game. As the underdogs, it gives us a chance to just
clear our heads and come out ready for this game."
On the Big 12 South controversy:
"I really don't know anything about that. Either
way, whichever team got picked, another team would
have been mad. I'm hoping to come out to Arrowhead
and see a lot of Mizzou fans out there. That gives
us a good advantage, because it makes it pretty much
a home game for us."
On offensive coordinator Dave Christensen's head
coaching job at Wyoming:
"He got a good opportunity, and he took it. I'm
proud of him. That means that everybody else sees our
program, and wants to try to be like us. They see our
success with our program, so it's a good sign for us
S Kenji Jackson
On defensive goals:
"There are a lot of things you can look at. If
you study your defensive scheme right, and don't give
up too many points… really, if you win a game,
that's how you know that you played well. It is strange
that it's that way. Of course, you want to stop the
offense from scoring a lot of points. But if you win
the game, that's most important."
On whether the defense broke in the second half:
"I don't want to say that we broke, but we just
had a lot of miscommunications on the defensive side
of the ball. For me, that was my first game in such
a big atmosphere. It was loud and crazy, and sometimes
we were just not communicating. There were a lot of
distractions in the game. I don't want to say we broke
at all, but it was just really tough to get calls—and
it seemed like every time that we didn't get a call,
that's when the big play came. We'll just have to do
a better job of communicating this week and make sure
everyone's on the same page."
On whether this game was a flashback to Illinois
"I wouldn't say that. Illinois was our first game,
so it was just kind of frustrating for everybody. This
one… it was Kansas, with a lot of emotions there.
We really just wanted to play to win."