Mizzou addresses problems, prepares for Texas

After two disappointing losses in the last two games to start conference play, the Missouri Tigers will be looking to get back on track when they host the #3 Texas Longhorns Saturday at 7 p.m. Go inside to see what coaches and players had to say about their preparations.

After two disappointing losses in the last two games to start conference play, the Missouri Tigers will be looking to get back on track when they host the #3 Texas Longhorns Saturday at 7 p.m.

Missouri started the season going undefeated in nonconference play but have dropped their first 2 conference games to fall to 4-2. They fell to then #16 Oklahoma State, 33-17 this past Saturday in Stillwater. The Tigers are the only Big 12 North team without a conference win.

Missouri will need their best game if they are to get out of their rut as Texas is one of the top five schools in the nation.

"It's a great opportunity for us to be in the Zou, play (Texas). It'll be a wild setting and it will be a great challenge for us and we're looking forward to working hard and trying to play our best game," Missouri coach, Gary Pinkel said.

"You're the underdog in a game like this, it's the biggest chance you have to turn a season around after two tough losses," Defensive back, Kevin Rutland said.

For a lot of Tigers this game is extra special because many of them are from Texas and for some it might be the last chance they have to knock off their former state school.

"I feel like this is the biggest game of my career. Man, it'd be a great win to get," Linebacker, Sean Weatherspoon said. Weatherspoon is from Jasper, Texas.

One thing that the Tigers have struggled with all season is their running game. Missouri ranks tenth in the Big 12 and 91st in the country in rushing yards averaging 121.83 yards per game. The run will probably be tough to come by against Texas as they have the best rushing defense in the nation averaging just 35.83 yards against per game. Sophomore quarterback, Blaine Gabbert isn't too concerned.

"I mean the run game gets the offense on a roll, getting key first downs on second and short, third and short just kind of get in that flow. The running game's been there. It's going to continue to be there. We just got to work on it every week," he said.

Another aspect the Tigers might want to work on is causing turnovers. Missouri is tied for last in the Big XII in turnovers forced with just eight in the first six games of the season. They failed to cause a turnover in Stillwater Saturday.

"It's not happening right now so I think this week we're going to do some different things and try to up that number a lot more," linebacker, Andrew Gachkar said.

Missouri did not have a 100 percent Blaine Gabbert in the last two games. They are hoping that his sprained right ankle will be completely healed for Saturday.

"It's a little bit different because it's your plant foot and everything you do, the ball comes out under that and how that affects him, we'll never know, I mean how it did. Here's a guy that says ‘I'm playing,'" Pinkel said. "He'll grow from this but it also says an awful lot about Blaine Gabbert."

Pinkel added that the way they evaluate whether or not a player like Gabbert plays depends on whether or not he wants to play and the opinion of the medical staff to. They also look at whether playing the injured player has the best chance on helping the team win.

The Tigers had some questionable calls go against them in Saturday's game against Oklahoma State. In the fourth quarter kick returner Jasper Simmons was called for a fumble at Missouri's 21-yard line which was recovered by Oklahoma State. Replays appeared to show that Simmons was down before the ball came out. Pinkel did not think it affected the outcome of the game.

"I've only had one call since I've been coaching, one time did it control the outcome of a game," Pinkel said. "Guess what, you've got to overcome them and you might get frustrated, you might be disappointed, and all these things really doesn't matter, it flat doesn't matter, you've got to overcome them."

The one call Pinkel was referring to was Missouri's game against Iowa State in Ames in 2006. In that game, the Tigers were on Iowa State's one yard line with 26 seconds left in the game and Missouri trailed 21-16. Quarterback Chase Daniel seemed to score on the next play but the Tigers were called for holding bringing the ball back to the 11 yard line. Daniel was sacked on the next play to end the game. The Big 12 admitted their mistake a couple days after that game.

This Saturday is also the Homecoming game and for many Tiger players, it's added motivation.

"We'll use Homecoming as motivation. I mean who wants to let down their fans in their town?" Rutland said.

Munir Prince will most likely not play again because of a hamstring injury. Will Ebner has made a quick recovery from surgery and will play against Texas.

After Saturday's game, the Tigers will travel to Boulder to take on Colorado on Halloween. It was announced Saturday that the game will kick off at 12:30 p.m. Central (11:30 a.m. Mountain) making it the first afternoon game since the Tigers played Furman last month.

Black & Gold Illustrated Top Stories