On Monday, Missouri Head Coach Gary Pinkel talked about his team as the Tigers prepare to head into this Saturday’s season opener against Murray State.
“We’re real excited about getting going,” explained Coach Pinkel. “When you come off of a difficult year, I think your enthusiasm level and your want to get back at it again is heightened. Our players and staff have worked tremendously hard. Our players put so much time and effort into their preparation, so much of their personal time into it because they’re so committed to excellence. So, I’m very pleased with that. I know they’re excited about getting going also. ”
Coach Pinkel indicated that his team is healthy.
“We don’t have any injuries right now,” said Coach Pinkel. “Everybody’s going to play and start that we expected to.”
“Staying healthy allows us to have a good camp,” explained Coach Pinkel. “Because we stayed healthy most of the time it allowed us to get the practice. You can’t practice as a unit if you’ve got three or four players out on each side of the ball, and get better as a unit. It’s very difficult. I thought we had a real good camp, and we’re ready to go.”
In talking about the offensive line, Coach Pinkel said that they’re healthy up front and that they’re more experienced than they were a year ago.
“I think they’ve all played,” began Coach Pinkel. “Connor McGovern’s a red-shirt sophomore. We wanted him to be better than he was a year ago, but he just wasn’t ready yet, maturity-wise. But all the rest of the guys have played. We moved Evan Boehm into center. I think that’s been a good move for us. They’re all better. And, they’re all healthy. They’ve been through the entire camp together. You usually get better and better the more you practice.”
Coach Pinkel explained that playing the young guys last year may turn out to help make the offensive line become more of a strength this year.
“Josh Augusta has really, really played well,” said Coach Pinkel. “He’s going to learn. It’s going to take time for him to get there. Great attitude, work ethic.......................................................... He’s a guy that kind of stands out.”
“(It’s) a really good class,” remarked Coach Pinkel, referring to Missouri’s 2013 signing class. “(It’s) a really good class. We feel very, very good about it, and in our evaluation system. Obviously, we believe in that, and it’s served us well over the years. And, I think it’s served us well in this class. I think we’ve got some very, very talented players.”
Coach Pinkel talked about James Franklin.
“He’s a very, very talented player,” said Coach Pinkel, talking about his senior QB. “I think he matured a lot. I think he’s more determined. I think he wants to run this team. He wants to lead this team. I think he wants to win……………………………………… I have a very, very high expectation level for James.”
Coach Pinkel said that they’ll probably use Franklin as a runner “a little bit less”. Then, he went on to talk about how Franklin has to “be smart” about not taking unnecessary contact when he does run the football.
He said that their receiver corps “can be really, really good”.
Coach Pinkel said that they’ve spent a lot of time on adapting to the new rules regarding launching and targeting.
“We’re doing the right things to protect kids, and to protect the game,” explained Coach Pinkel. “We’re spending a lot of time on it. We all got to play with the same rules. But again, it protects people, and it’s the right thing to protect the game.”