Missouri Tigers head football coach Gary Pinkel, and several of his players, spoke with the media on late Monday afternoon for their weekly media address. Below are some of the relevant quotes from them at the event.
Head Coach, Gary Pinkel On the possibility of James Franklin playing this weekend against Tennessee... "I won't say it (his status) is doubtful, but it is questionable. I was not there yesterday when he threw. I was in Seattle. It is nice to see him out there throwing. It has to be comfortable for him, when he's ready to play."
On the emotions of the team right now, following the loss to South Carolina... "They practiced yesterday, and they are fine. On my way to Seattle, I had the entire game downloaded on my iPad. I watched that and I talked to each coach and got reports. I got everything done that I needed to get done. I have a great coaching staff that can function just fine without me around here. They did a great job. Our players will be ready to go."
On the young cornerbacks' play against South Carolina... "I thought those guys did a great job. Talk about being thrown into the fire a bit. Aarion Penton just came right out of high school, and you also have a redshirt freshman in John Gibson. They are really competing. They are not going to play perfect obviously, but I thought they did really well. I'm very pleased when young players are thrown into that type of atmosphere, and come out like they did."
On Shane Ray's performance evolution and maturity as a player... "Shane is doing really well. That defensive front is so competitive. We are doing a great job against the run, and our pass efficiency on the defensive side is pretty good. People aren't throwing or running the ball consistently against us. I think it starts up front, and it almost always does. I think Shane is doing a great job. He is very quick, and he can run well too. He is getting more experience and the more experience he gets the more technique he uses that Coach Kuligowski taught him. It is really great to see that."
On what you've seen in film from Tennessee so far this season... "I see a good football team. They beat South Carolina two weeks ago, and they played a great Alabama team this past week. I see a team that will play both of their quarterbacks. Their running backs are good, and their offensive line is good. They have young receivers, but are athletic. Their defense runs well and they have a great linebacker and an athletic secondary. That is the great thing about this league (the SEC). Every week we can play a great football team and we are excited about doing that."
On what it means to have defensive back E.J. Gaines back in the lineup... "His experience level is big. He is one of our best players. The two best players on our football team arguably are James Franklin and E.J. Gaines. We lost both of those guys a couple weeks back. It is nice to know that we had two redshirt freshman go in and compete and play well to fill their roles. That means well for the rest of the season, and for the future. The confidence level with him on the field is just a plus."
On his former head coach Don James memorial service yesterday in Seattle... "I flew to Seattle Sunday morning to be at Don James' memorial service. It was a great afternoon for me to be able to do that. They had these pins that they handed out to everybody that was at it. I was fortunate to be asked to speak at it, which is something that I wanted to do but never thought it would happen. I was asked, and it was really a great event for him. I saw a lot of players that I coached years and years ago, a lot of Huskie friends and family and most importantly, Coach James. I'm not going to wear this pin for the rest of my life, but I am today to honor him."
Maty Mauk On dealing with the negative backlash after the loss to South Carolina... "The main thing is to stay focused. Don't look at what people are going to say. I know we have something special going on right now, and we are going to bounce back from it. We're going to be as good as we have ever been this week.
On the team being 7-1 and ranked No. 10 in the nation... "The way we worked in the offseason and coming in through fall ball, I knew this team was something special. It is just like what L'Damian (Washington), and all the seniors said to coach. They wanted to change our name. They want to put us in the national championship, and not just going to a bowl game."
On Saturday's loss changing the team's goals for this season... "Not at all. It is still a special year. We are going to bounce back from it. We are going to fight hard, and starting tomorrow morning we are going to be focused for this week's game."
On his confidence in the ability for Missouri to bounce back... "Just the attitude everybody has. It is a learning experience. You have all these coaches that know how to get us through it. So, I think the attitude of the guys is big. They are focused, and we will be ready."
L'Damian Washington On the past week being the anniversary of his mother's passing... "It meant a lot. To get that touchdown in the game Saturday, that was why I took a knee. It is all for her, and for my brothers. I just want to thank God for giving me the ability to be here, and being able to represent something so powerful. It is all for her. That touchdown Saturday meant a lot to me. Wednesday was her birthday and to come out Saturday and get that touchdown was just my message to her."
On the so-called 24-hour rule of letting go after a win or loss... "No, I think winning and losing is just the same. You have to let it go 24 hours after. You of course have to learn from it (losing) and from wins also, but you have to learn from losses a little bit more. Also, just to let it go, and look towards the next opponent. You don't want the South Carolina loss affecting us two weeks in a row. So, we just want to leave it where it was, and move onto to Tennessee."
On the silver lining being that Mizzou is still atop the SEC East... "Right, just because we lost one game doesn't define our season. I think all of our goals are still reachable. Last year, Alabama lost one game and the year before that, that they won the championship lost a regular season game. So, our goals are still the same."
On the stakes being high for the rest of the season... "We don't focus on that. We let our playing ability do all the talking, and things like that. We just want to go out there and win games, so we are going to prepare right and go out there and do our best."
On not dropping far in the rankings... "I really wasn't paying attention to the polls. I hope that one loss wouldn't drop us too far, but that is not my main concern. My main concern is just focusing on Tennessee."
On Tennessee players providing bulletin board material... "I am a competitor. I am going to go out there every Saturday, and compete. I will let my performance do the talking. I am not going to sit here, and trash talk. He (the outspoken Tennessee player) made a promise and hopefully he keeps his promise, but we will see."