Shortly after I pressed the record button Thursday morning on a new Depth Chart Podcast, Freddie Maggard warned me he had a bad feeling about the game. It wasn’t that Missouri was popping off the page with a statistical advantage. “You can just feel it,” he said. Mark Stoops had that same feeling.
“I’m not very pleased with the way we played this past week at Missouri. Certainly that falls on me and not having the team prepared,” Stoops said. “Credit them, they were extremely excited and prepared to play. Coach Drinkwitz deserves credit. They did a good job with their gameplan, they outplayed us, they were more out-physical than us they were more excited to play the game than us and more prepared. The outcome was because of that. It starts with me and getting the team prepared and we have to do a better job of matching the intensity of our opponent. You go on the road to Missouri, the last time we went there I felt like we were out-played and some how we were able to come away with a victory and this time it wasn’t the case.”
Many fans roll their eyes at the “we’ve gotta be better prepared” line. It’s a coach-speaky cliche. This week Stoops meant it with all his heart. You could tell Thursday evening that he was uneasy about his team’s prep, bringing more fire than usual to his final media opportunity. That feeling lingered with him until kickoff.
“It starts with me, getting them prepared, getting them mentally sharp enough. I tried. Believe me, I tried extremely hard, even to the point where I went to an extreme Saturday morning as far as what I normally don’t do, as far as in pregame, because I felt like we just weren’t on point for some reason.” He added, “I gotta get em prepared throughout the week. It doesn’t happen on Saturday. You can’t flip that switch.”
The players aren’t bad kids. Stoops is just struggling to figure out how to push their buttons to make sure his team is at its best by kickoff.
“It’s on me. I know people are going to say, ‘there he is just saying that,’ but it’s true. It’s true. I have to somehow reach these guys to get them on point. They’re strong men that are trained that have enough in their tank and they to do their part. They have to sleep. They have to get their rest. They have to come prepared to practice because it’s going to be a grueling year. Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us… Missouri wanted it more Saturday. That’s on me.”