Tigers Meet with the Media

MUTIGERS.COM Head Coach Gary Pinkel
Head Coach Gary Pinkel

Nov. 2, 2009

Head Coach, Gary Pinkel


Injury Report:

"We'll have two surgeries on Friday. One will be Gabe McCrary. He's a walk-on from Grandview. He will have knee surgery on his ACL. Luke Lambert will be scoped for his labrum tear. Pat Smith will take good care of these guys and fix them up good as new. It's unfortunate losing Luke. I talked with him yesterday and he was very emotional, he's a great competitor. It is very difficult for him, but he has support from his family, friends and certainly his teammates. His role now becomes more the leadership part in terms of helping our football team and helping the young players in his position. He'll do well and we will miss him. Munir Prince is going to try to get back again. He's had that hamstring injury for a while and been struggling through that. We are going to try to get him healthy. We know how tricky those things are. Jayson Palmgren has a sprained ankle. We expect him to play. We are probably going to keep him in the boot for a while, not sure if he will practice tomorrow, but he will practice Wednesday and Thursday for sure. He is probable to play on Saturday."



Opening Statement:

"Our focus is now on Baylor, understanding that they are a good football team. We've got to improve in all areas. I think our players are excited. Obviously, it was a tough three weeks around here, certainly a very difficult week last week. The win felt good, but I told my players it's going to get tougher and tougher. November is here and if you want to have great success as a football team you have to win in November."


On Zaviar Gooden:

"He is really doing well. He had a lot of points in our point system of production and he is an athlete. He can fly, he runs a 4.4 guy and already weighs 222, and he is a smart kid. He is a quiet kid and doesn't really say much. Will Ebner and [Andrew] Gachkar are both doing well. We are also getting [Donovan] Bonner ready to play, trying to get those backups ready because you never know what's going to happen. But for a young player, it's been really great to see him come around; it is a very difficult position to play. With all the stuff the offenses are doing now with the checks, the reads and they keys, he's doing a really good job."


On Donovan Bonner:

"We thought he looked a lot like Spoon [Sean Weatherspoon] athletically in high school. It's kind of that upgrade, you upgrade to speed. Nebraska and Washington, a few years ago, that's what they were doing; moving their safeties to linebackers and linebacker to defensive end, just to upgrade their speed. We do that quite often, but not always. With guys like Lorenzo Williams, who kept going down in speed as he got bigger and bigger, we didn't do that."


On linebackers Will Ebner and Sean Weatherspoon:

"They both are great hitters. That's the first thing you think of both of them, they will flat strike you. I think athletically they are probably a little bit different. I think Spoon is probably a little faster and Ebner is real headsy for such a younger player, a real smart player. It's the toughest position to learn on defense. Being a sophomore and actually playing a year ago, I think he's picked it up well. When Spoon was a freshman and sophomore, he played just like Ebner does. He was a decent player at the beginning and then as the year went on he got better and made all-conference. I see Ebner doing some of the same things."


On the defense under defensive coordinator Dave Steckel:

"Steck's done a great job. I think defensively, we have some good players that are getting more experience and playing pretty well, except for the Texas game. I think we've done a lot of good things. We've seen the effect of turnovers and the impact it has on a game. It was nice to see us create fumbles. The reason those turnovers happened wasn't luck, we created all of those. It was because of physical play and stripping the ball, putting pressure and driving the quarterback out. It's a story to be told, we'll see where we go. But Spoon, Jaron Baston, Aldon [Smith], Jacquies [Smith], and [Brian] Coulter are all doing a lot of good things. I think our safeties are getting better and keeping people in front of us. [Andrew] Gachkar is also doing some good things. So we've got some good players, but it's all about consistency. I think we are more consistent on defense right now and that's what we're trying to do with the offense. We are going to work real hard to do it. Time will tell, its nice to see us playing well, but can we do that week after week?"


On Derrick Washington:

"Everybody likes Derrick Washington. I think Derrick has been a great kid, great leader, great team player since the day he got here. He's very positive and one of the leaders on our offensive football team. Last week, we asked each player to raise their standards a little bit, and I think he took it personal. He obviously did some great things."


On Blaine Gabbert continuing to play:

"There are a lot of quarterbacks who I think are pretty good players who would just say `I have limitations moving so I'd rather not play.' They want to get 100% healthy and they might not be healthy for three weeks. But comfort zone they're more worried about making mistakes out there and maybe not looking good because they can't throw as well. But he is just the complete opposite. His attitude is `Don't even think I'm not going to play, coach.' If you want to be a great quarterback, you have to be a tenacious competitor, and you have to mentally and physically tough as nails. If you lack in any of those areas, you're not going to be a great quarterback. What he is showing me is his toughness.  Any great one, that's what they do."


Sean Weatherspoon, Linebacker


On the takeaways the defense generated against Colorado:

"We did a good job of getting takeaways this past game, but we've just entered the forest. We know that there's a long road ahead, and we've got to just take it one week at a time. If we go out there and prepare the way we did this last week, we can go out there and get the ball out and capitalize on opportunities and take the ball away."


On what was key to defensive success against Colorado:

"I think it was the quarterback pressure. If you can get to the quarterback and rile him up a little bit, then things are going to work a little better for your defense. We were able to get the ball out from him a few times."


On defensive lineman Jaron Baston:

"He's made a lot of progress. I think it has a lot to do with one of the guys who led him when he came here, Lorenzo [Williams]. He saw some things that Lorenzo was doing, and it's kind of rubbed off on him. He's been doing a great job of just going out there and putting his own interests aside and doing what's best for the team. He's helping the younger defensive linemen come along too. I think they see me, but they may not see Jaron doing a lot. He's one of those guys, though, that's always in everybody's ear letting them know that we can do this and what we're capable of. He does a lot in the locker room."


On defensive end Aldon Smith:

"I expect bigger and better things from him each week. He's one of the best players I've been around since I've been here at Mizzou, and he's making a name for himself. Hopefully he can get it going this weekend the same way he did this past weekend. I talked to him in the training room, and he said the goal this week is to get five sacks. That's the kind of guy he is--he just has no limits. He feels like he can get better each and every week, and he's been doing that. Whenever you can get a guy who can man double teams, and also be that guy on the outside to go get sacks, it takes pressure off the linebackers."


On the Baylor team:

"We know that those guys are definitely looking for a big time win, and they're probably thinking, `Why not against [Mizzou]?' They're going to come in here prepared and we know we're going to get their A game. We've been pretty much getting everybody's A game, so we're excited for the opportunity."


On what can keep Mizzou winning:

"Consistency is a big part of it. We haven't been consistent this year. I feel like we played a good game this past weekend, but it wasn't a full game. We want to put it together for four full quarters, and if we can put that together then that will help us out."



Danario Alexander, Wide Receiver


On the upcoming game against his hometown team, Baylor:

"It's just another game. Baylor is on our schedule, and they're from the South. Obviously Waco is about 30 miles north of where I'm from. I just want to come out and have a good game against them."


On coming back from injuries:

"It feels pretty good. This whole season has been pretty good for me... it's been a relief. Coming back from these injuries and being successful is a big deal for me."


On play in November:

"We want to come out and finish the season strong. Baylor's next on our schedule, and we've got to just try to take it one game at a time. November is where you're remembered, and every game counts for the bowl situation. We've just got to come out and play our best football. That's our mentality."


On the fake field goal touchdown against Colorado:

"I was pretty surprised. I was walking away from the field and I thought we were just going to kick the field goal. Then I looked and saw the replay screen and Jacquies [Smith] running with the ball, and it definitely surprised me."



Derrick Washington, Tailback


On putting two tailbacks at once in the backfield:

"You don't know which side the ball is going to go to, or which player is going to get it. Traditionally, when we're loaded up on one side we run the opposite side, so now with two backs there the defense won't know which side the ball is going to. It's really good because it mixes up the defenses. The defense usually slants to the opposite side of the running back to cause confusion up front, but now they can't really do that."


On how protecting the quarterback and the running game are connected:

"It goes hand-in-hand. Protecting Blaine [Gabbert] is our main thing because we're a pass-first offense. If we can't protect him, we can't get anything going. With the running game, we also open things up for him."


On the win against Colorado:

"It was a big confidence boost for us coming off of our three losses. We had a tremendous practice week, and we're going to try to keep doing that and hopefully come out this weekend and play like we did on Saturday."


On Baylor:

"They're going to come out hungry. They lost their quarterback and everybody has doubted them about that, but they're going to come out ready to play on Saturday. We all need to bring our A game."


On Coach Pinkel's statement that a new season starts in November:

"That's exactly what he's been saying--it's a new season. We've blocked out all our past goals in our locker room, and we just start off blank. It's started off all new last weekend--we're 1-0 now. We've just got to continue and finish the season 5-0."



Jacquis Smith, Defensive Lineman


On his fake field goal touchdown run:

"As a defensive lineman, you're not going to get too many chances to score. So, as soon as you get the ball in your hands, you'd better make the most of it, and that's what I did."


On the defense's success against Colorado:

"Coach [Dave] Steckel put together a great game plan this week, and everybody bought into it. It showed on the field. We just went out there and gave a great effort and put a lot of pressure on [Colorado quarterback Tyler] Hansen. Once you do that, it can make it tough out there for the quarterback. Once you rile up the quarterback, you can really rile up the whole offense. I think we did a pretty nice job."


On defensive back Kevin Rutland's sack and quarterback pressure against Colorado:

"It's his only chance, and so he seized the opportunity, along with [Robert] Steeples and a lot of those other corners who were coming in on blitzes. They seized the opportunity and really took advantage of it."


On defensive end Aldon Smith's explosiveness:

"I knew it before the season even started. You can tell by his physique, he's a well-built kid. You just can see him evolve from game to game. He's got so much talent, and he's showing it out there on the field."



Blaine Gabbert, Quarterback


On the win against Colorado:

"It was a big win for us. It was our first Big 12 win of the year, and it was a big win in the Big 12 North. We've really got to finish in November, because when you win in November that's usually where you get your bowl bid and where the final standings in the division really start to take place."


On Baylor:

"They're a good team. Their big players are Joe Pawelek and Jordan Lake, and they really base their defense off of that."


On not being touched the entire first half against Colorado:

"It really starts up front with our offensive line. They played a tremendous game overall, for the passing game, as well as the running game. I think we rushed for almost 200 yards and threw for just as many, so our offense was extremely balanced and that helped us score a lot of points. I just keep telling my offensive line to keep it up. They played a great game Saturday."


On wide receiver Danario Alexander:

"He's an extremely talented guy. He's always finding ways to make big plays, and it's nice to have him out at wide receiver. All of our receivers are big time playmakers, and somehow, Danario always finds a way to get open. Whenever he's open I try to get him the ball, because really on any play he can take it to the house."


On the team's focus:

"It's week-to-week. We really can't worry about games down the road. We've just got to focus on this week on Baylor."


On contributing to the running game:

"It felt good. My ankle's feeling a lot better than it has been. It means that they can't drop everybody into coverage. It really helps the running game out a lot, because the defense can't key in on Derrick [Washington] because they have to focus on me too."


On the running game:

"I've said it all year long; it gets our offense on a roll. When we can pick up key yardage on first and second downs, and eliminate third-and-longs, it really keeps our offense in flow and we score a lot of points that way."


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