Coach Pinkel addresses questions about his team

As Missouri comes off it's loss to Kentucky on Saturday, Tigers head coach talks about his team heading into South Carolina game week.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Mizzou head coach Gary Pinkel met with the media on Monday to discuss his team’s upcoming game with South Carolina this Saturday at 11 a.m. on SEC Network. The game will be at Memorial Stadium and serve as the annual ‘Gold Rush’ game in which fans are encouraged to wear gold. 

Opening Statement

Good afternoon, everybody.  I appreciate you being here.  Injury update here: DeSean Blair will be out, he had that head injury in that car accident.  Hopefully we’re going to get him back soon, but sometimes they take time.  Obviously, it’s a very sensitive area and there’s a process to release a player. Sean Culkin’s knee, he’ll be out a couple weeks, we know that for certain.  It’s unfortunate for him.  Nate Crawford, ankle, he’ll be out.  Kentrell Brothers is questionable with an ankle also; ankle-slash-knee, but it was more of his ankle. Ian Simon is probable, he slammed his head in the back of the endzone when he knocked that ball down.  All others are expected to practice.  South Carolina is a very good football team.  You know Steve Spurrier is a colleague and a friend, and I have a great admiration for his successes and his teams.  They are very disciplined and very well coached.  They’ll be coming into The Zou.  We’re excited about being home, back with our fans and fanbase.  We’re working hard to play better and to become a better football team.  Any time you come off a game like that, we lock into what we do.  That’s something we talk about in August, how we deal with adversity here, and that’s what we’re doing at this time.  Looking forward to hopefully getting better and playing better this week.


On the gameplan if Kentrell Brothers is held out against South Carolina

There probably will be a few adjustments.  We’ll have to wait and see how we’ll make a decision on that.  Clarence [Green] is doing a lot of different things.  Again, it hasn’t been finalized, so I don’t want to tell you something that hasn’t been finalized. 


On whether he has experienced an offensive drought like this before

Point wise, in that game there, we had one three-and-out.  We hit our third down goals.  We didn’t turn the ball over one time.  We scored in the red zone every time we were down there.  We had one at the 32-yard line I believe is not officially the red zone, but we should’ve had an opportunity to score there and we didn’t.  We’re not scoring enough points, you understand that, but we did make progress.  We got the ball to the 40-yard line every single time, and flipped the field and field position the times that we didn’t score.  I think we’re making progress and we’re going to continue to work hard to score more points.  It does get frustrating, certainly it does, but that’s what we’re going to do.


On moving Cam Hilton to wide receiver

Cam is our sixth safety, and he’s going to be a great safety, there’s no question about it, but he was our sixth player.  He’s in all the kicking game right now, and he was down on our scout team at the time.  I’m watching down there and saying “You know, he was a great receiver in high school, great hands and everything,” so we talked about it as a staff last week and decided we would first ask him if he wanted to do it, and he would have the option at the end of the season to go back to safety.  Whatever he wants to do, he can do.  I think he’s got a chance of helping us there.  That was the reasoning behind it and he kind of fit.  We played him to get him on all the special teams, pretty much like we did with [Sean Weatherspoon], the same situation, because we know that would help him next year.  Losing a couple of seniors back there, that would be the wise thing to do.  We talked to him about that before we did that.  To see him down on the defensive scout team as an offensive player, it’s just “Can this guy help us?”  I think he can.  It’s kind of exciting to see what he can do.


On if Cam Hilton will play receiver for the remainder of the season…

Yeah.  As of right now, yes.


On changing up the mix of kick returners

Anthony [Sherrils] hurt his ankle, so we look at that a little bit. Aarion [Penton]’s done a good job in practice.  Again, it’s catching the football, it’s judgment back there.  It’s very difficult at times when you go up and try to make the catch.  And is it such a kick, maybe high risk?  When you go up and try to make a catch.  That’s all the things you have to do and have to get.  Aarion, he’ll still do it sometimes.  Cam, we think he’ll have a shot of doing it also, so we’ll see how that goes.


On if Anthony Sherrils will still be playing safety



On if Taylor Chappell helping at tackle provides relief…

Well, tackle positions are obviously the spots that you’ve got to fill the quickest.  That’s something, I feel bad for Nate, but we’re going to get him back.  That’s part of our plan.  Anytime we go into any game, regardless of what the depth chart looks like, we say “Who’s the first backup at each position?”  In that game, that happened.  We go with most experienced. That was the right thing to do.


On if an improved return game could provide a spark for the offense

Yeah, there’s no question about it.  Kickoff return is the most down play.  Generally they just scored and they’re kicking off, the kick return team has to reestablish momentum and field position.  So there’s no question about that.  It’s the same thing on punt returns.  Our goal is to get a first down, but in kicking it’s all about field position.  So yeah, we’re working at it.  We had [Marcus Murphy] siting there for four years, so that was pretty easy to do that.  And by the way, congratulations to him, he got one this week, and he’ll get a lot more because he’s very good at it.  But I think that’s a testament to the talent of the players.  I figure we’re not just going to hit on it and everything goes great and perfect all of the time.  I think Aarion will return some for us, which he’s not done in any way.  We’ll test out some of the other guys, John Gibson back there, and [Finis Stribling IV], and we’ll see where it goes.  I think we’ve got to block better.  We’ve got to block better in all of those, that’s certainly a part of it.  Kickoff returning, you have a little more control over that, generally, than the punt returns, where sometimes you’re limited.


On Aarion Penton

Aarion, he’s a great, great competitor.  He loves to play out there in space.  Those guys have got to be different.  They’ve got to have a tremendous amount of confidence.  Also, the great corners, the ones that I’ve ever been around, are the ones that recover.  You’re going to get beat, but can you recover and make a play?  Because we’re playing against a great receiver this week too.  He’s playing at a different level than a year ago.  That’s what you always ask, you ask every one of your players that played a year ago “Can you go out there, and can you play better than you played?”  The best teams that I’ve ever had, you could almost go across like the whole team, and whatever their role was as a junior, you played better as a senior.  I think that’s hugely important for Aarion also, and he’s doing that.  That helps you get better.


On possible concerns with Maty Mauk’s shoulder

Certainly.  I’m aware of it, yes.  I think what happens too is he’ll hold the ball a little bit, to get a read.  When you’re set, you’ll throw off your chest, shuffle throw.  Drew underthrew a ball too.  It’s a little bit fundamentals and he’s a little sore, but I think if he releases the ball a little bit quicker and anticipates a little bit more, he certainly has the arm strength to do it.  It’s very unusual that you ever see him underthrow like that.  His shoulder’s a little bit sore, but I don’t think that’s a huge factor.



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