Pinkel not pleased...yet

Gary Pinkel could be happy with his team's 2-0 start, but he's not. Against I-AA Eastern Illinois, the always-cautious Pinkel will try to lead Missouri to its first 3-0 start since 1981, before most of Pinkel's players were even born.

After the amount of worrying Gary Pinkel put into last week's game against Ball State, it seems like he might have been able to rest easy after the Tigers beat the Cardinals 35-7.

Didn't happen. Pinkel's sleep schedule continues to look more like an infomercial programming slot. Especially when the next game comes against Eastern Illinois, a Division I-AA team that almost beat Pinkel's Toledo team in 2000.

"I'm scared to death of everybody," Pinkel said. "I didn't sleep last night, if that makes you feel better."

In its home opener against Eastern Illinois at 1 p.m. Saturday, Missouri is trying to go 3-0 for the first time in 22 years. Last year, the Tigers went 2-0 but then lost 51-28 at Bowling Green.

"As we're building this program, not having won three games (at the beginning of the season) since 1981 is a remarkable statement," Pinkel said. "But on the same token, I'm part of the problem because a year ago, we'd won two and went to Bowling Green and got beat. So you can throw me right in there."

Pinkel refuses to be pleased with the 2-0 start, focusing on what his team hasn't done rather than what it has.

"A year ago, we'd won two in a row, and I'd thought I had these guys under control," Pinkel said. "I didn't. I didn't get it done.

"There's a lot of little things that we're still doing wrong. It's pretty annoying for me to see little attention to detail things at all positions. We had performances last weekend that were OK, they were decent, but they weren't good enough to compete at the highest level. Complacency kills you."

Saturday's game can appear like a gimme, a lock for a win as Pinkel continues to use the Bill Snyder scheduling strategy to build his program. Pinkel, though, has seen a I-AA team surprise him. In fact, he has seen Eastern Illinois almost pull a shocker.

When Pinkel was at Toledo in 2000, Eastern Illinois came to play his Rockets two weeks after a big Toledo win against Penn State. The Panthers tested the higher-ranked, more-talented Rockets, getting to the Toledo 7-yard line when time expired to give Toledo the 31-26 win.

"I don't really go back with my players on that, and my players don't know anything about that," Pinkel said. "We're focusing on preparation and respect, and it's my job to get them ready to play."

One of the biggest parts of that preparation is who will be the quarterback on Saturday. Brad Smith has been cleared to play, and he said he will play after he suffered a minor concussion last Saturday against Ball State.

"It was weird," Smith said. "For me, it was not being able to think things through and not remembering things. It was a concussion like you'd expect from anybody else.

"That was different. I couldn't remember what happened."

Pinkel refused to discuss injuries, as he has done since the middle of last season, but he said he expects the depth chart to be the same.

Eastern Illinois beat California (Pa.) 27-0 in its opener August 30 and was idle last weekend. Its' coach, Bob Spoo, is the school's all-time winningest coach. The Panthers are No. 17 in the I-AA media poll and No. 19 in the I-AA coaches poll, and are led by senior linebacker Nick Ricks.


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