Here’s your back-to-back SEC East Champions, the Missouri Tigers. Who would have ever imagined? Head Coach Gary Pinkel built his program by specifically recruiting players that fit his schemes and program. Missouri develops players as good as or better than any other team in the nation. This can be attributed to the Missouri administration’s patience in giving Pinkel time and very little assistant coach turnover. Here are Pinkel’s comments:
Paraphrased Media Days opening remarks:
We do what we do. We try to get better 5% per year. We focus on Mizzou made which is player development.
APR ranking one of the best in the nation. Last five years, graduated 92% of seniors.
I’m a process guy, learned that from the great Don James.
Questions and Answers
Q: The way you recruit and develop players by design or necessity?
Pinkel: Never look at stars, never have. Trying to bring competitive people. Have to have size and speed, especially speed. We can teach them to be football player. We’re doing something right. We choose who we want to choose. Focus on ourselves and work hard.
Q: Not getting respect you’ve earned and very little mention of a repeating as East champions.
Pinkel: Want more respect, do it at a high level and win at a high level. Deliver every Saturday.
Q: 13th in total offense in the SEC, how do you improve your offense?
Pinkel: Last year we adjusted, last year played the best defense we’ve played since joining the league. Matty Mauk is 14-4 as a starter and remarkably good under pressure.
Q: Marcus Golden and Shane Ray are now in NFL. Talk about of Kentrrell Brothers?
Pinkel: He can run, he’s quick, he can cover, and he’s a good athlete. We’ve been known to have high quality defensive linemen.
Q: How have you been able to reload on the defensive line?
Pinkel: Our D line coach does a phenomenal job. Training players, keep developing players and sliding them in.
Q: How is Harold Brantley’s spirit?
*Harold Brantley is a Mizzou DT that was injured in a summer car accident.
Pinkel: He’s doing well, he has his moments. Here’s a guy, great athlete, phenomenal leadership. That will be a loss. Harold is going to be ok. We’re going to have to help him. We do that at Mizzou. Great thing is he’s going to be ok.
Q: Last year’s top rated high school player Terry Beckner Jr will play this season. Before, the nation’s #1 player Dorial Beckham Green. How do you manage fan expectations for these players?
Pinkel-With Harold’s injury, Terry’s name has come up quite a bit. He doesn’t get caught up in a lot of stuff. He’s a little bit shy that way. Get him to focus on becoming a better player.
Q: Predictions coming out tomorrow, are you hoping you’re picked 3rd or 4th in the East?
Pinkel: I honestly don’t know where we’ve been picked since I’ve been here. I don’t want to disturb anybody here, I don’t read newspapers or anything. I have no idea if you picked up 1st or 5th will have no impact on me at all.
Nothing earth-shattering will ever come from the Missouri head coach. Both Nick Saban and Gary Pinkel both played at Kent State for coaching legendary Coach Don James. Like Saban, Pinkel is all about the process. On several occasions, Pinkel mentioned player development which is considered the program’s strength. Like his SEC Media Days predecessors, he was speaking to recruits. Pinkel mentioned All American Harold Brantley who was unfortunately injured in an offseason car accident. During his Brantley comments, he seemed sincerely concerned and respectful of Brantley as a player and person. I really liked that. As expected, he played his cards close to his vest. I suspect Missouri will take a small step backwards. Of course, many have said this about the Tigers only to be proven wrong come December. For UK, Missouri is a highly winnable game.