Confidence—it's what Missouri has heading into the SEC.
Stemming from head coach Gary Pinkel down to wide receiver T.J. Moe—the Tigers brought their A-game to SEC Media Days Tuesday.
In the main press conference, Pinkel talked about being new to the league, how the Tigers' offense will stack up against SEC defenses and that quarterback James Franklin will be 100 percent healthy by August (he had shoulder surgery this spring).
He fielded questions ranging from his history with Nick Saban (the two were teammates at Kent State and Saban helped Pinkel get his first head coaching gig at Toledo in 1991) to where to eat in Columbia—"Email the city restaurant organization," was Pinkel's response, as he didn't want to get into trouble for naming one restaurant over another.
But no matter what type of question was thrown at him, Pinkel just exuded confidence.
With Texas A&M and Missouri coming over from the Big 12 this season, many view them as automatic underdogs in the SEC. But Pinkel doesn't see it that way.
"It's like some people act like we've been playing a bunch of high school teams," he said. "We played in a pretty big league.
"To me [playing in the SEC] is being a competitor. As a competitor, you get challenged a little bit. I told our football team this—this analysis of Missouri and Texas A&M coming from the Big 12, which certainly was, but is a really good league most of the years we were there without question nationally, one of the best leagues in the country, it's going to take place, it's going to happen.
"Bottom line, you got to go out and prove yourself. I'm fine with it. I have no problem with it. Not going to make predictions. Never have, never will. You have to go out and compete and earn respect and win. Only way you're going to get respect is winning games."
Wide receiver T.J. Moe was asked similar questions on how he feels about playing the type of talent the SEC houses.
"People say they're more physical, and I can't tell you from experience yet," he said.
Moe explained that the Tigers can run and pass and beat people one-on-one, too.
"We had 3,000 yards passing and 3,000 yards rushing last year," he said. "We may have been the most balanced team in college football. We also had the second-most yards in Mizzou history after the '07 team."
Moe actually became the media's darling of the day. His no-BS, straight-shooting comments were refreshing and made reporters laugh.
Asked what he thinks the differences between the Big 12 and SEC are, Moe said, "Well last year I wore a dry fit polo to media days and today I'm in a suit. I was escorted up the escalator by security and just look around…it's a zoo in here."
He also said that the culture in SEC country is just plain different.
"The girls are prettier, the air is fresher and the toilet paper is thicker," he said.
Missouri has some intriguing pieces on offense this season, like Franklin, Moe, 2012's top recruit in wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham and tailback Marcus Murphy (who Moe says is a guy "no one knows about but is as fast and as explosive and as quick as I've ever seen"), so it will be interesting to see how they stack up against the SEC's bullying defenses.
Having this obvious confidence is a nice place to start.
The Tigers first test will be against Georgia at home in Week 2.
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