Injury Report... "Out for this particular game will be Travis Ruth, who would have been our starting center going in. Eric Waters, a backup tight end that would have, and will, play a lot. Both those guys will play when they get back. We expect to see both of those guys back, hopefully, next week. Gahn McGaffie, last scrimmage, had a sprained knee. He will probably be out for three weeks.
Kip Edwards and Jerrell Jackson, both who started a year ago, are doubtful right now. We'll have to wait and see how they practice this week.
Injuries are part of football, we understand this, and we have a few more right now than we've had in the past at this time. But we also take the position that it's part of the game and you still have to go out and play your best and be your best, and that's what we expect to do."
Opening Statement... "Looking at Miami of Ohio, obviously me playing and coaching in the Mid-American Conference, what a great league it has been. Historically one that has produced some great, great football teams and has had some great victories. Miami of Ohio, a year ago after we played them, they went on and were 10-4. They were the first football program in [school] history that went from losing ten games to winning ten games. They won their division, won the Mid-American Conference Championship Game, won their bowl game and bring most of their players back. They are very talented. Without question one of the more talented teams I've seen, and it will certainly be a great challenge for us.
That gets back to us then, trying to play our best game. Our focus is on Mizzou, and trying to be at our best also. Our players are excited about it. I think everybody in college football is excited to be playing the first game. Playing somebody else instead of playing yourself in spring football and beating on yourself the last 25 practices. I think our players have a great deal of enthusiasm. We are excited about playing at Mizzou, we're excited about our fans wearing gold and continuing the great traditions we are trying to build in our stadium."
On James Franklin's experience last year affecting his first game... "I think any reps you get the previous year are positive. The more you get, the more experiences you have. It's all about getting on the field, playing at a high level in front of 70,000 fans. I think he got a real good taste of that a year ago. That being said, I think he is just focused on right now and trying to play his best game. I think he had a great camp. He really improved from the beginning to the end, and that's what we expect him to do. He's a very talented young man. I know quarterback transitions are always the focal point, it always has been and it always will be. Especially at our level with the quality of quarterbacks we've had here. I also look at all the experience of the players around him, players that have played a lot, and if all those players on both sides of the football play up to their potential and have their best years, it will make quarterbacking a lot easier."
On injuries leading to opportunities for other players... "Justin Britt would have played a lot at guard if Travis Ruth would have remained at center. We knew a year from now, when Dan Hoch and Elvis Fisher's final years were over, we would move Justin out to left tackle. He had worked on it also in case someone was injured. This thing has just happened a year quicker than we wanted it to happen. I think he is a very good athlete. He is a tough, competitive kid, so I think he'll go a very good job there.
Marcus Lucas, with Jerrell Jackson being out, has had a good camp. Much improved from a year ago. Again, guys have to go out and do it on game day. No matter how much you prepare, game day is a lot different from practice. But he has prepared very well. He is a very talented young guy also, and I think he'll go out and do a good job.
Jack Meiners will be a first time starter. We've got him at left guard right now. He also can go out to tackle and play if we need him out there. He'll do an excellent job.Trey Hobson also will start. He's played quite a bit, as a lot of our players have.
If you remember last year, we had quite a few injuries a year ago. That's going to happen, that's part of the game. It's a lot easier on the coach, and it's a lot easier on the team when you don't have them, but that's just the way it goes. The good news is, most all these guys right now can get back. Hopefully we can play good football until they get back."
On Michael Egnew's follow up to an All-American season... "Michael Egnew went from a year ago at this time as a player I was waiting for great things to happen but hadn't happened yet. A year ago he had a great spring, he had a really good camp. All of a sudden, you saw this guy bloom into an All-American tight end, and make the plays that he did. I think it's always difficult to say it's easy to match that type of year. It requires an athlete to really push himself with the Michael Jordan "I've never played my best game" attitude. That's why certain people have to drive themselves, and we have to do a good job coaching them, pushing him beyond where even he thinks he can get to.
That being said, we like to distribute the ball to a lot of different people, but without question, he is going to get the football. He's a big target and he's working very hard."
On the return game... "We've put a number of players back there all spring. We've had forty-something practices watching these guys and we work on it every single day. You have to come up with who you think will be the best at doing this. It's interesting, when we first got here, we really struggled just to get one or two guys on the field that we really thought could do a good job. Now, we have to choose between four and six players. Basically, who are the best that can do something with the ball. Our punt return game, you like to go to the house every time, but our goal is to hand our offense a first down before they get on the field. In other words, if they can get ten yards on a return, then that's our goal to get that done. Our kickoff return, we are trying to get it beyond the 25-yard line if we can. The percentage from scoring from there compared to the 20 or the 15 is significant.
Henry Josey, we think he has the big play potential. T.J. Moe, we know his quickness and his poise, and the most important thing about returning punts is you have to catch the football in a lot of traffic and a lot of situations. We all know how tough he is and what a great competitor he is. Carl [Gettis] did a great job for us last year, Marcus Murphy did a great job for us, and hopefully these guys can bring something special to these positions."
On Dominique Hamilton's comeback... "Dominique is really a great kid. When he came in we saw this athlete that had the potential to be really good, but the majority of it was potential. It's remarkable what a good player he has become. I'm very proud of him as he's battle to get stronger, faster, quicker. That was a loss for us last year, when you take a guy like that out of the middle. To have him back, you have all that experience, a guy that weighs 305 pounds, he's 6'5", he has a big motor, it's certainly nice to have him back. This defensive line has the potential to be really good. He's certainly a big part of that."
On Zaviar Gooden... "Zaviar Gooden is kind of a freak athlete. First of all, he's a great young man. He runs [the 40-yard dash] in the 4.3's, he's up to 230 pounds now, he plays as fast as he runs, he's a lot better player than he was a year ago. That's the instincts, and the difficulty, of the the [linebacker] position. I think the toughest positions in football are quarterback, offensive line and linebacker. Linebackers have a million things going on. Especially with the multiple offenses they see, all based on reads. He's a good student, he applies that on the field, and we're expecting really big things from him."
On concerns about the team being ready for Miami (Ohio)... "I'm concerned always. I'm concerned about everything. That being said, you look at Miami and they are really good. We aren't talking about some average team. They have most of their football team back, and they'll come in hear very confidently. We are excited about playing at Mizzou, we are excited about playing in front of our fans, we are excited about playing on TV at 11:15 in the morning and we understand it's very difficult to win. The best teams I've ever coached are the ones that don't really care who they are playing, they focus on themselves playing their best. The best teams I've been around, that's what they were like. They didn't care who they played. They focused on playing their best game and respecting their opponent. That's my job to make our players understand that and I think as they watch film of their personnel last year, you can see that they developed into a really good football team."
On following the recent Mizzou tradition of outstanding quarterback debuts... "I guess I was only here with Blaine [Gabbert], and he was really good. I'm trusting the coaches and they've prepared me for this, so we'll see what happens."
On his experience from last year... "I think the biggest thing probably would be contact. I get the speed of the game in practice going against our own defense. But just having that contact against the other team, because I can't get hit in practice, is one of the biggest helps from last year. Playing against someone else, that's something that really helped me out."
On the excitement of the first game of the season... "I think the biggest thing is it's finally an actual game. All this practice, all this studying and game day is our test. That's something we've been working for and we're ready to go out there and see what we can do."
On his anxiety leading up to his first start at quarterback... "It will probably get a little higher when we get closer to Saturday, but right now it's pretty much the same. Just keep comparing and be ready to go out there and perform."
On pre-game rituals... "I don't really listen to fast-tempo music. I listen to John Mayer or something like that. I like to think a lot -- I don't necessarily get amped up. That's really the only thing that I do, then I'll make sure and say my prayers, and that's about it."
On the excitement leading up to Miami of Ohio and his final season... "It's exciting. We are counting down the days, we can't wait. Terrell [Resonno] and I were just talking about that. It feels like we just got here, but then again, it doesn't feel like we just got here. We just want to live it up to the fullest. You know, go out there, have fun and we want to dominate."
On his goals for this season... "My personal goal for this season is I want to be All-Big XII, and I want to go out there and play my hardest every down I'm out there. One huge thing I pride myself on is stopping the run. I don't want anyone running in the middle. The same goes for Terrell. We are trying to stop anyone that comes through there."
On the defensive line's ability to stop the run... "You always have to stop the run. That's the first thing we look for, and that's the first thing we have to do. So I feel like, if we do that first, we're going to be good."