Pinkel has high hopes for Faurot

The Big House. The Horseshoe. The Rose Bowl. The Golden Dome and Touchdown Jesus. Faurot Field? Gary Pinkel thinks Missouri's home field can be just as tough as any of these stadiums. The Tigers play their first home game on Saturday, and Pinkel thinks Memorial Stadium can be wild as the Tigers also play their first game on the new FieldTurf.

Gary Pinkel has a vision.

He sees fans, all decked in Missouri's black and gold, going crazy. They're making unbearable noise on opponents' third down. In short, Pinkel sees Faurot Field becoming hell for anyone that dares to visit.

Before this vision becomes reality, though, Pinkel realizes he has to do his part. He has to make Missouri the kind of team that fans will go wild for.

"That field could become a zoo, I'm going to tell you that. That place could be tough," Pinkel said.

"I would like Faurot Field to be one of the toughest places to play in the country. We have the fan base to do it. It's all there. It's all here, but if we want to turn that place into one of the toughest places in the country, the football team's going to do that with how we play."

The Tigers play in their first home game on Saturday, and Pinkel can't wait to see what kind of showing his team can put for the fans, and also what kind of showing the fans can put up with his team. Missouri's home opener is at 1 p.m. on Saturday against Eastern Illinois.

Missouri will also play its first game on the new FieldTurf, a synthetic blend of plastic, rubber and sand that replaces Faurot's old grass. Pinkel has wanted the FieldTurf since he came to Missouri, and he finally has it.

"This is probably softer than most grass fields," Pinkel said. "That's a huge plus for us in many, many ways besides the injury part of it. It's a 60,000 or 70,000-seat practice facility where we can practice in any conditions. It's a win-win in a million ways, and it's a great surface."

The reaction of players has been favorable, although some have mixed opinions. Some, such as running back Damien Nash, think it's great because "it feels like grass but plays like turf." Others miss the natural feel of grass, but don't miss weather damage to the field. All can agree, though, that the little specks of rubber that fly around right now need to go.

"Sometimes it gets in your eyes," cornerback Calvin Washington said.

The little specks are a growing pain for the young surface, expected to go away once the field has had more play on it. As for the fans, though, Missouri hopes there's a more than just little specks of Mizzou-clad fans waiting to make this first home game a memorable one.


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