At Tuesday's Big XII Media Day in Irving, Texas, Mizzou head football coach Gary Pinkel spoke about his team moving forward past the class of 2008 and into the future. The first step of that is finding a new quarterback to take control of the offense.
"I think any time you lose a quarterback, a quarterback of quality, that's a concern," Pinkel said. "Right now, Blaine Gabbert is clearly #1 and we'll see how that goes."
This comes as no surprise to Tigers fans that paid any attention to what happened in spring practices this year. The press conference wasn't just coach speak though; Pinkel did say some things on Tuesday that we have not heard before.
"Pat Ivey, our strength and conditioning coach, said this is the hardest working team we've ever had since we've been here," coach Pinkel said. "That's a pretty good statement and a pretty profound statement because I think our kids work really, really hard and I think there has been a really high standard set."
That is a pretty bold statement from the training staff of a team who went 12-2 including a win in the Cotton Bowl in 2007-2008. Pinkel spoke of his confidence in his coaching staff's ability to recruit players that will make a good team year in and year out.
Pinkel is confident in his bunch, but many national pundits are skeptical of the Tigers' chances this season because of their youth on both sides of the ball. Pinkel played down the idea that the team's overall youth this year will be a cause for regression in performance.
"I'm not really into young, I'm not into inexperience," Pinkel said. "It doesn't really matter. I think there is an expectation level that I have, that our football team has, that our program has that when you lose players there is responsibility that goes with that. You have a responsibility as coaches and as players to have a good football team."
Even though Pinkel doesn't make much of it, youth could play a role in the team's success this season. In order make the inexperience of the team a non-factor this year, the Tigers must have good leaders. Mizzou's head coach is very confident in that aspect of his team this year.
"I think Sean Weatherspoon without question [is one of our best leaders]," Pinkel said of the team leader. "If he's not the best linebacker in the country you got to show me someone that's better. I think he has great leadership skills, also a great student and person."
Throughout the press conference, Mizzou's head coach seemed very optimistic for this upcoming season.
"I'm really looking forward to working with our football team as we get into August 5th and they report," Pinkel said. "We got a lot of good athletes and I think we've recruited well. It's the fastest football team we've ever had since we've been here, so I'm excited."