Big 12 Media Days: Missouri

COACH PINKEL: Tony obviously had a varied career at Mizzou and the best history in Cotton Bowl. Kansas City native. We have Derrick Washington, also Kansas City native. Did well a year ago as a freshman, played, I think he's an outstanding talent, a little different than what Tony is as far as style.

COACH PINKEL: First of all, we have William Moore from Hayti, Missouri. He's a free safety, an all-conference free safety a year ago. We have Chase Daniel from the Dallas area, quarterback. We have Jeremy Maclin from Kirkwood High School in St. Louis. And we have Chase Coffman, tight end here from Kansas City, Ray-Pec High School.

Great kids, and we're glad they're here.

Q. Do you think your guys got enough of a taste at being the favorite last year so they will react favorably to being the hunted this season?

COACH PINKEL: I think that's always a concern. I think responsibly that's what I have to do. I kind of filter that down with our seniors. As I look at that I look at our seniors from a leadership standpoint, they're kind of -- they kind of help me kind of watchdog over our team.

And really the thing we look at is we just -- we look at habits. Look at daily habits. When our kids are in school, are the academic habits the right way, are the attitude habits the same, the locker room habits, the weight room work ethic and practice habits. Every day throughout the entire summer when our team has been working out with our strength and conditioning staff and our seniors, are they doing all the right things every day.

If you go from red flags you deal with them. But right now I think we're doing the right things and hopefully the experience of last year of playing at a higher level, playing in a lot pressure situations, hopefully we can play at a high level again.

Q. You guys sort of emerged on the national scene last year. Can you talk about the blue-collar work that went in over a four- or five-, six-year period to get to that stage?

COACH PINKEL: Well, I think we worked real hard. I think if you look at our entire program, we stayed focus on what we needed to do. People ask me about that. And I think that the continuity of our staff has been important. I think one of the great things about our players, when they came in we didn't change a lot of things.

We changed certain things on offense or defense, but they came in. There were certain ways we lifted weights or certain ways we did our off season program or our academic support system is done a certain way and the discipline is done a way. And we stuck to that and really got our players to get ownership, where it wasn't Gary Pinkel's program, it's our program.

And that started happening about three years ago. We certainly haven't arrived. We won the Big 12 North last year. University of Missouri hasn't won a Big 12 championship yet. So we've made progress. Certainly I'm very proud of the players in our program and certainly the seniors a year ago that really helped change, look at the numbers they've had and then actually the seniors coming in that they have, the potential to do.

They've done an awful lot for Mizzou football and Missouri and I'm proud of that.

Q. Obviously Tony Temple was very important to you guys last year. I wonder if you could talk about trying to fill his role, and could we maybe expect to see a rotation of backs for what he did for you last year?

COACH PINKEL: Tony obviously had a varied career at Mizzou and the best history in Cotton Bowl. Kansas City native. We have Derrick Washington, also Kansas City native. Did well a year ago as a freshman, played, I think he's an outstanding talent, a little different than what

Tony is as far as style. Jimmy Jackson has been here. It will be his fifth year here at University of Missouri and he's done outstanding things.

De'Vion Moore is a player from St. Louis that nobody knows about yet. And then we've got Drew Temple coming also. We'll have a challenge. We'll play running backs as most people following us know, and that's going to be important.

I think it's probably going to start more so the offensive line. We lost two starters in the offensive line from a year ago. And we also lost two back-ups so we lost four of our Top 10 players.

When you just see two starters leave, both Tyler Luellen was a real good player and Adam Spieker was Lineman of the Year. We lost talented players but when you lose four of your Top 10, we've got some holes to fill there.

Do I feel comfortable? We'll be okay, yeah. But I think it's going to be like our defense was a year ago. Our offensive line as we look at them are going to have to be a lot better in October and a lot better in November than they were at the beginning.

And that hand in hand, I think, will certainly help our running game.

Q. Gary, how much has your offense evolved over the years because you've had different style quarterbacks? You've had different style running backs, receivers, tight ends. How different is it now than maybe even a year ago?

COACH PINKEL: Well, I think it's really evolved. Brad Smith can do some different things than Chase Daniel, and Chase can do different things than Brad. Those are the two quarterbacks, and I've got early starts there. I think the beauty of the spread offense, you kind of go the direction you want to go. I think when we had Brad as a staff, we were much -- we had very little experience with the offense. I think what's happened as we've developed our offense and our version of the spread, there's a lot of different versions, I think we've really expanded it. And I think you generally expand it based on personnel.

For example, Jeremy Maclin that's so good with a football in his hands, we hand the football to him like a running back, seven, eight, nine times a game. Two years ago we never did that at all.

So I think personnel dictates that. It's also an offense I think that's very creative in terms of there's a lot of things you can do with it. But you still build it on personnel and still build it on Chase distributing the ball to other people.

Q. Do you try -- as you're recruiting, do you try to plug in similar players, or you just go after the best players and make the offense adjust to the people you bring in?

COACH PINKEL: I think from a consistency standpoint, you would like to stay with the trend that you're doing, the way you're doing it. Because the players are doing it year in, year out. But I think the first adjustment is adjusting to the quarterback.

Running back-wise I think you could expand that depending on the kind of running back you have, have to decide if you want to do that.

I think we try to recruit players into our system as we know it right here. But I think you also adjust. I think you adjust depending on if you've got a player that really can help be a tremendous asset in a different way a little bit outside of the norm and then you adjust accordingly.

Q. Piggybacking off what Brian asked you, did you go to the up tempo to take advantage of personnel? If not, what was it about quickening the tempo of the offense as a field team?

COACH PINKEL: The way that whole thing came down originally I felt we needed an edge. Talk about the offense, we needed an edge. And I looked at Mike Leach. I don't know if Mike's been up here yet. But I looked at what Mike has been doing in Texas Tech and certainly a version of his spread offense and going to bowl after bowl after bowl.

And also what I did is I contacted a lot of defensive coordinators around the country that I respect and asked them what offense they disliked playing the most. What absolutely drives them crazy. And the spread offense came up.

That's when we made a decision to go that route. I think when you look at our spread offense and going that direction, we're the kind of spread offense where we want to create -- we want to be able to run the football also and create great running lanes.

We want to be an offensive football team that gives, dictates a little bit what the defense does as the Cotton Bowl did. When we decided to go to this offense, we went to Urban Meyer, Gregg Brandon, coach at Bowling Green. We went and met with them and got their version of it A to Z, and that's what we leaned on.

Then about a month after we were working on it in January, Dave Christensen, our offensive coordinator, came in my office. He said, Coach, I want to talk to you about huddle. And I just kind of -- I was reading something. I took off my glasses, I said what do you want to talk about? And he said we don't want to huddle anymore. I said what? He said we don't want to huddle anymore.

And I said -- that took me back a little bit. Can you imagine never huddling. If I called Coach James back in Washington and said I never huddle, I don't know what he would do to me. What I did we examined the pluses and minuses of it and I think it's been a tremendous asset, because the no huddle provides you with the creative tempo of the game, provides you an opportunity to check at the line of scrimmage, have the staff do that from the press box.

There's a lot of things that no huddle gives you. And I think that really has been a huge plus of what we do in our spread offense. I think if we huddle all the time, we would not be near as productive as an offensive football team as we have been.

Q. Bo Pelini got asked a lot of questions from the defensive coaching standpoint, are you getting any closer to figuring out how to stop the spread offenses. Judging by the results of last year's Big 12, does it seem like defensive coaches are coming any closer to figuring it out? What trends are you seeing from defenses and do you think that the answer from the defensive side is being closer?

COACH PINKEL: I think that's interesting. I think more people are going to spreads and no huddles around the country than they have ever before. And I think what's happened is don't think that the defense aren't going to figure some things out to do. We look at, you look at historically at offenses or defenses, there's no perfect offense or defense.

I think it's still all based on personnel. We have good coaches and good players. We understand that's where it starts. Certainly we spend half the time working on things we don't see on film that we expect possibly to see. We do that all the time. And because we don't know what's going to happen. We don't know if they're going to drop nine players or rush seven. We look at a lot of different things so that the biggest thing is that we have to have answers.  

The thing about this offense probably much more than any offense I've ever been associated with is that the adjustments that you make are very critical. And you learn. We're a lot better at adjustments now because we know so much more. But the defense is, give them credit they're going to start figuring some things out around here.

And, again, I don't know specifically what they are. There's certainly some things we've had trouble with which I'm not going to tell you. But there's no perfect offense out there.

Q. Given the way you guys like to play offensively, do you anticipate new clock rules to have any impact on the way y'all do things?

COACH PINKEL: I don't know. We'll see what happens. Hopefully we can get a few more plays in the game. That's kind of what we're thinking. If we can get five or six more plays, I think we were second in the nation in number of plays. I don't think it will have a real effect at all as far as running no huddle offense. In fact, I think in some respects we might be able to get it off a little quicker. So we'll see.

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