The reason Wright expects a fight from Mizzou is because a Tiger win would put them in the driver's seat in the Big 12 North. At 3-2 in conference, if Missouri knocks off CU at Folsom Saturday (1:30 p.m., ABC), they would pull even with the Buffs and hold the tiebreaker for the right to play in the Big 12 title game.
"I guarantee you, the position they're in, they will come down here and try to win this game," Wright said. "There is no doubt in my mind this game is as big as it gets. …If I'm a coach, I'm telling them, this is the biggest game in you all's career."
Wright and his cohorts on defense have faced two quarterbacks often compared to MU's Brad Smith, in style and effectiveness. The Buffs found great success defending Texas A&M and Reggie McNeal, but Texas signal caller Vince Young toyed with Colorado in UT's win two games ago.
Wright said CU made the mistake of playing conservatively against Young, forcing him to throw the ball. Without a lot of pressure from the CU defense, Young picked apart its secondary. That plan was a different one than CU used successfully against McNeal in the Buffs' 41-20 win over A&M.
"We were just flying off the edge, trying to get to them," Wright said of playing the Aggies. But against Texas and Young, "we were trying to play too smart, thinking he was going to run. And he just stayed back there in the pocket and picked us apart. I guarantee you if we do that against Brad Smith, he's going to do the same thing."
Wright said he learned from the mistakes of the Texas game. He plans on being more aggressive this weekend.
"I'm going to attack," he said.
Asked the difference between the three quarterbacks, Wright said that when Smith takes off and runs, "it almost looks like he's not trying …but he's moving 100 miles an hour; he's going. He's so calm and poised. If you look at him in a game, he never looks stressed out.
"We need to get some hits on him."
Charles Expects to Play vs. Missouri
Because Kansas State doesn't list the status of injured players under head coach Bill Snyder, Gary Barnett didn't talk about injuries last week. Monday, he said he liked that approach and said all the injuries coming out of the win over Kansas State would be "game day decisions."
Sophomore running backs Hugh Charles and Byron Ellis were hobbled in Saturday's game. On Monday, head trainer Steve Willard said he thought both would play vs. Missouri, but he stopped short of giving it a 100-percent probability. Willard did say, however, that both were better Monday than Saturday evening.
"If they both keep progressing the way they have since Saturday," he said, "they should be able to play."
Ellis has what Willard described as a shin sprain. Charles has a more common ankle sprain.
Ellis did not practice Monday. Charles was able to go at about 50 percent, the starting tailback said. Charles injured the ankle in the first half when he dropped a pass, and a defender rolled onto his leg. He said he didn't tell the coaches about the injury, but that running backs coach Shawn Simms noticed it and pulled him in the second half in favor of Lawrence Vickers.
Charles said on Monday that he's had sprained ankles in the past, and his current one isn't bad.
"I'll be back Saturday," he said.
But in case Charles and/or Ellis are slowed too much, sophomore Bernard Jackson is getting coached up at tailback this week in practice. Jackson played scout team quarterback in the weeks leading up to the Texas A&M and Texas games — imitating Reggie McNeal and Vince Young. This week, receiver, and former high school quarterback, Charlie Sherman is reprising his role as "Brad Smith" for the CU scout team. Sherman was scout team QB for CU last season during Missouri week.
As far as other injuries, Joe Klopfenstein did not practice, as his shoulder was in a sling. Defensive end Alonzo Barrett practiced in a limited capacity for the first time since his knee injury in the Texas A&M game. Barrett was upbeat about the possibility of playing vs. Missouri, two games earlier than was originally thought. But that may the a case of an eager player more than anything.