Whether he is starting or coming off the bench, it makes little difference to Henry Sweat.
The senior from Irving, Texas, received a start in his home state against the Longhorns on Saturday. Although he, like all of the linebackers except senior James Kinney, struggled to make an impact against the Horns, Sweat did enough to hold on to the starting spot at middle linebacker in this week's depth chart.
Not that he cares. In his fifth year in the Missouri program, Sweat is more concerned with contributing, no matter who gets the starting nod. There were no additional nerves, no butterflies fluttering around inside of him. For Sweat, the nervousness might have been there when he made his first career start, as a sophomore late in the 2002 season. Now, it was "just like any other game."
That attitude has made him Missouri's most consistent reserve this season. Sweat has recorded 21 tackles, the most of any non-starter, and a sack. He has helped ease Dedrick Harrington's transition to middle linebacker, where the sophomore has struggled to make an impact.
InsideMizzou spoke to Sweat on Monday afternoon…
On how competition for the starting nod affects him and Harrington: "I think the competition is good for us. It makes us both focus on our play. Basically, the way it is, whoever is playing the best at the time starts that game, but we're still pretty much even and we split time. It's just basically raising both of our levels of play."
On competition in practice: "For me, that's not in my mind during practice. What's in my mind is just going out there and getting better. The main thing is myself, but if my teammates need help, helping them out with their assignments and stuff like that. The competition just comes; if you play well in the game, you're gonna play the next week. No added pressure, none at all."
On where he feels most comfortable: "I feel most comfortable at the Mike spot, because that's just normally where I practice at during the week and that's where I've been playing at since spring ball. But I feel that I can play any of the spots, given enough practice time."
On which position he likes the most: "I just like to be on the field. I'll do whatever I can to get on the field."
On facing a mobile quarterback: "You gotta respect your opponent, whoever it is. Last week, we knew he was a good runner and we tried to game plan against that and take some of that away from them. Guys are gonna make plays, though. It's definitely in your mind. When you know that a guy can run and he's good at it, you get a little more conscious about that. The bottom line is, you still have to go out there and make a play, no matter what he does."
On the Oklahoma State offense: "They're a physical team. They want to come right at you and run the ball. I just looked at some statistics and they're fourth in the nation in rushing, so I guess that's definitely what they want to do."