Q: This Colorado team, where have they made the most improvement from the team you beat a year ago in Columbia?
Pinkel: "Well, I think they're an entirely different team. I think, as a program, they're a year older. (The CU coaches) have put them through an entire year of the player-development program. Dan (Hawkins) and his discipline and what he does internally — what you do is you build a program. And they're playing without question at a much, much higher level.
"It's a year in the program of a good football coach and that's why they've improved in almost every area."
Q: What does your depth at safety look now that Pig (NAME) is done for the year?
Pinkel: "As we look at it right now, hopefully we get Justin Garrett back this week. That'll help us in getting depth back there. We're contemplating what we'll do at the other safety spot."
Q: What's the plan for Pig Brown as far as surgery goes? And how important can he be for you just standing on the sidelines?
Pinkel: "He had surgery (Sunday) morning. Pat Smith did the surgery. He's, I think, the best there is. It went well. I got a call Sunday morning saying surgery went very well. He tore his Achilles tendon. I just saw him in the hospital (Monday morning) and he'll be released (Monday afternoon).
"He will travel with our team. Certainly, his leadership – we need him around this football team."
Q: Can you talk a little bit more about Cody Hawkins and his development as a quarterback this year?
Pinkel: I" think anytime you're a redshirt freshman and you play to the level he's playing — I think he's getting better and better the more games he has. Obviously, he's a competitor. He's a coach's son. I've been in this business a long time and you see it a lot in high school where a coach's son plays for him or another team, and just the being in the arena of football their whole life, it seems that coaches' sons think at a different level.
"Obviously, he's a great competitor. Just a good young player and one that I see getting better and better."
Q: Talent aside, how does this team differ from other teams you have carried into November?
Pinkel: "We'll see. If you want to win at a high level and compete for a championship, you've got to win at the end of the season. We've not been consistent enough there. We're hoping that this year is going to be a year we're going to make a move there.
"But it's like I said a month ago, you can talk about winning at a high level, but until you do it, it really doesn't mean a lot.
"I love our players. We have great leadership. It's an exciting position to be in. Other people in our league have the same position that we're in. Now it's a matter of ‘can you do it?' Time will tell. And that's good."
Q: No disrespect intended, but a lot of Missouri coaches, including yourself, have struggled in Boulder. Have you been able to put your finger on reasons for that?
Pinkel: "No. I think it's still a 100-yard field there. It's 2007, hopefully we can do a little better."