Conference call thoughts: Sept. 27

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel and Colorado coach Gary Barnett answered questions from around the conference in Monday's Big 12 teleconference. Look inside for Pinkel's thoughts on the Colorado offense and Barnett's view of the changes Missouri has made to its defense.

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel

Opening statement: "We've had several real good practices, I think, prior to this game. For all the teams that had byes, it was a week of getting healed up a little bit. We're in preparation stages for an undefeated Colorado team that is playing well and is very, very good football team."

On what he expects from Colorado QB Joel Klatt and RB Bobby Purify: "From a running game standpoint, Purify is everything he was prior his injury, a national-type back and certainly one of the best in our conference. He is just getting better and better each and every week. Obviously they like to run the ball and they've been very good at it the past couple years. Klatt has the experience of playing. He has been in the arena and won games. He's very athletic and has a very good arm. I know that they believe they can throw the football probably as good as anybody."

On the timing of the bye before facing a surging Colorado team: "I don't really look at that. I try to focus on us. We have enough things that we have to improve as a football team. I don't look at the momentum factor in any way. Every game from now on is critically important. They're undefeated and we're aware of that. I'm just focusing on trying to make us a better football team."

On the state of the defense: "I think we've improved defensively; our personnel without question has improved. It still remains to be seen as we get into the Big 12 Conference, kind of where we're at. I like to think we've made progress, but the proof is what happens. That evaluation will continue throughout this Saturday and as the season goes on. Are we a better defense than we've been in the past? Yes. Are we as good as we want to be? I don't know. We'll find out."

On trick plays he used against Ball State: "We just go into games and game plan how we want to game plan. We don't look at the future or past. I think teams basically look at what it takes to stop you. Colorado's playing so well right now that I don't think they're too concerned about a few trick plays."

On junior QB Brad Smith's development: "I think he's made some progress. The proof will be as we go. He made some progress; he needs to get better. He's only three games into the second half of his career now. I think that's the other side you have to look at. When you look at it that way, he only has barely half of his career over with at Missouri."

On the offensive line affecting Smith's development: "Any time you have transition anywhere on the team, it affects how you run the football or how you throw the football. Anything the offensive line does affects that. Overall, our offensive line played pretty well the last game. Against Troy, they didn't play very well. It's all continuity. We had breakdowns in different areas of our offense. The key is to execute better and better and keep improving."

Colorado coach Gary Barnett

Opening statement: "I don't particularly like bye weeks, but last week seemed like a pretty good week for us. I think we were able to make the most of it without trying to make too much out of it. We're playing a very good football team. I think the difference with this team as I've watched it grow has been the improvement in their defense, style and confidence they play with on defense. I think the difference on their offense from a year ago is their receivers are much further along. A year ago, they struggled in the receiver category but this year they're up to where they're very efficient in every facet of the game. It should be a battle of, hopefully, two good football teams. A big game for both teams, opening conference. Everybody knows this is a real good team that Missouri has put together. They're well coached. Everything goes to another level once you get to conference and this game will be a perfect indication of that, I think."

On the two years Smith has left in college football: "None of us want to look at it that way. He certainly is a great player already. I'll be one of the first guys in line to write him a letter to tell him to come out a year early, probably."

On Klatt and Purify: "A year ago, we really struggled going north and south on our offense. Bobby's a north-south guy so it lets us get back and run the kind of offense we want to run. So that's what the change is there. As far as having guys to throw to, we don't have the guys that have all the catches and experience that we had last year. We got young guys trying to make their mark, a number of them fighting for those positions. We have a lot of competition; we just don't have much experience there."

On a perceived lack of talent at receiver: "We're a Big 12 team, too. We've got good players and we've recruited. Now it's somebody else's turn to play and we're excited about that. Two weeks ago, we had 11 different guys catch the ball. We have to keep that rhythm going, where we can get the ball dispersed to a lot of different guys at a lot of different positions. That's the kind of offense we want to be; sometimes defenses don't allow you to do that."

On losing momentum during the bye week: "I don't know that anybody knows that until you play the next Saturday. If you've lost going into a bye week, you have to be a loser for two weeks. If you've won, your momentum, it's sort of natural to have it stop. It's a struggle."

On keeping players focused during the bye: "I think it's hard to keep them focused. You try not to get too much done, but you try to get enough done where that you can carry some things over. We had some guys really banged up and we're trying to get them healthy. One thing that really helps us is that we are playing an opponent the quality of Missouri, so you don't have anybody taking a week off and thinking that the next game isn't going to be very difficult."

On if his team's 3-0 start exceeds his expectations: "I don't think it exceeded my expectations. I just didn't know how we were gonna get there. Every game has been different; but that's the fun of it, you really don't know what's gonna happen. We lost five or six players in the offseason, five of them starters. I knew we'd struggle, and we may all year. We just want to be the best team for three hours on Saturday afternoon. We don't care about the rest."

On the Missouri defense: "Their defense, that and Brad Smith, has allowed them to grow to the position that they're in now. They've gotten better and better on defense each year. They're much more of a zone blitz team now. They've just improved the techniques of their defense each year. They're really, really good and effective and efficient in what they do."


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