Mizzou Meets the Press

MUTIGERS.COM Head Coach Gary Pinkel
Head Coach Gary Pinkel

Nov. 23, 2009


Head Coach Gary Pinkel

Opening Statement:

"Really, the only injury issue we had in the game was Derrick Washington with a mild concussion. He's been cleared to practice. Our medical staff will probably try to ease him into it a little bit, just as they always do in these cases. I feel very confident that he'll play, and that's certainly good news. We're not in school this week, and so this is a day off for the players and for everyone to enjoy. A lot of players have been around here today watching film and getting ready for this game. It's a little bit of a different week organizationally because of Thanksgiving on Thursday, but we're in preparation. We're certainly excited about being a part of a big rivalry like this. The day I got here, I learned a lot about this game from different alumni the moment I walked in. It's a great rivalry. Not every school has a rivalry like this, and there's a responsibility that goes along with that. This is very important to our students, fans, season-ticket holders, and alumni all around the world. We recognize that, and that's something that makes it very exciting. Arrowhead Stadium has been nice the past few years. Obviously, it's a great venue and a great location. It's in one of our top recruiting areas, and we like that it's in Kansas City. With that said, we're going to prepare hard to play well and we're excited to be a part of this."



 On the new Nike Pro Combat uniforms that will be worn Saturday:

"We were asked last summer by Nike to be a part of this, along with the other nine schools. We were certainly very honored. Our [regular] uniforms are our uniforms--we would never make a change to that, but this is a one-time thing that they designed. We were very honored that Nike would make us a part of something like this. It isn't going to make you play better, but they're certainly very unique."


On Blaine Gabbert:

"I think he gets better all the time. Even when he was hurt, that kind of helped him a little bit. You look back on those adversities and grow from that. Being healthy certainly makes you quarterback better. He gets a lot better each week, but there's still a lot to learn. If you look at Chase Daniel as a sophomore, and then at his junior and senior years--no matter how good he was as a sophomore, he was significantly better. Blaine will be the same. You grow from all of your experiences, but I'm pleased that he's making progress and handling the position itself. That's not taking sacks, it's getting rid of the football and not forcing balls, it's taking care of the football and of the offense. I'm pleased with his progress. When he's on the field, he plays on the level where he has the most control. I remember a few weeks before this season, I pulled him into my office and told him, `When Chase Daniel was our quarterback, his demeanor was what he was.' I told him he's just got to figure out where he's at. The whole thing is so that he can quarterback the best. He's very poised out there--almost expressionless. When he gets on the sideline, he shows frustration like anyone else, but I think he's doing a much better job now from a leadership standpoint in terms of encouraging his teammates and saying more as a leader. He's doing a lot of good things."


On the improved offensive line:

"There's no question that we're playing much better and more consistently up front. I think overall we've played pretty well, and for a few weeks there Blaine [Gabbert] was struggling movement-wise. When you have to play like that, it's just different. I think our offensive line is taking a lot of pride in their performance, and doing a good job. You earn your right to play around here, even if there's someone who's a good starter in front of you."


On Kansas:

"Their numbers are good. They've certainly had their struggles, but they've got a good football team. We all know this game, regardless of either team's record, speaks for itself. I've said this for the past couple of years, I really like [Todd Reesing]. I like quarterbacks that can make plays with their feet, his competitiveness, and I think he's a heck of a football player.


On the improved running game:

"I think that with Derrick [Washington] out in the second half, De'Vion [Moore] and Kendial [Lawrence] really stepped it up, and we needed that. They're good players. It's not going to always work out like you want it to, and you're not always going to get the yards in exactly the way that you want, but when we're always best is when we're throwing the ball well and stretching people out and then mixing in the running game. I think they've been doing a good job, and the second half of this game was certainly a test but I think they both did a good job for us."


On wide receiver Jerrell Jackson:

"After the Colorado game, I went up to Jerrell [Jackson] in the locker room, patted him on the back, and in a very positive way I said, `Good game, but you could be a lot better.' He kind of looked at me a little bit confused. He's just one of those players that has a lot of ability, but he also had a few things in this game that obviously didn't go our way, like the ball being knocked out from him at the 45-yard line. He took that and responded and came back and made plays later. I'm really pleased with that, and I think he's got a huge, huge upside. Some players have an elevated image of themselves and an idea about when they're going to be good, and then some players are the opposite and don't have high enough goals. It's our job to look at each one of them and counsel them through to get the best out of them. I think he's got a lot of ability."


On Danario Alexander:

"I'm just happy for him. You watch him, and just kind of shake your head a little bit. He's obviously a premier wide receiver and a great competitor. That's what makes him good, and what made J-Mac [Jeremy Maclin] great. I know this final regular season game is really important to him, like it is for all of us, and I'm just really happy for him."


On the rivalry with Kansas:

"It's a rivalry game, and it really speaks for itself. I think the bigger issue is that we have a lot of young players, and I think it would be very wise of us as leaders--the seniors and captains and coaches--to make sure the message is clear. We have a lot of young guys on the team that know it's important and that it's our rivalry game, but the importance of it is our responsibility to get across to everybody."


 Don Barnes, Director of Equipment Operations

 On the new Nike Pro Combat uniforms:

"From head to toe, we have an absolutely new uniform for this week's game. This is a one-time only tribute game for us. Nike has got some amazing designers, and they use a lot of things for inspiration. They looked at our rivalry series with Kansas, and they really liked it. They liked the fact that this is so much deeper than a football game to fans on both sides of the border. This goes back to the Civil War--so they looked into that, and the tiger is a stealth opponent and a fierce opponent by nature. They saw stealth and Missouri, and then looked around at what we have here in the state of Missouri. The home of the B-2 bombers is here at Whiteman Air Force Base, and they jumped on that as the inspiration for our uniform design. They wanted to make these uniforms look like a stealth bomber. For the helmet, we went with an absolutely all-flat grey matte look, and preserved our stripe and our `M' on the top--the stripe just looks more like a speed stripe. A lot of this is Nike's innovation--they cut out weight, because we want our guys to be light, but still protected. The shoulders have sewing across them that's called Flywire, which is a new technology that they came out with for the Olympics last year. It's super-strong thread in an area that takes a lot of abuse, but they added no weight to it, so it's a lot stronger. The shoes also use Flywire, so they have a ton of strength but no weight. We can't make people play better, but these are tools and resources that will allow players to go out and do the rest. The list of participating schools has a lot of great programs on it and that's a tribute to where we've come as an organization."


Jarrell Harrison, Safety

On the Missouri-Kansas rivalry:

“I understood Missouri-Kansas right away. When I first got here, everybody talked about it.”


On the Kansas offense:

“They’re great players. [Kerry] Meier’s got dependable hands, and Dez Briscoe just stretches the field. Todd Reesing’s a great quarterback, so we’ve just got to come out there with our ‘A’ game and we can beat them. We’ve just got to keep Reesing contained, and allow no big plays.”


On Missouri’s second-half defense against Iowa State:

“I think we played well, especially in the second half. In the first half, we gave up some big plays—they hit us with a few trick plays. In the second half as a defense, we came out well and only gave up seven points. Coming off a two-game winning streak, we really want to go to Kansas City and get another one and keep this thing on a roll.”


Blaine Gabbert, Quarterback

On Jerrell Jackson:

“He’s a tremendous talent. He’s finally coming into his own as a player, and he really stepped up last week. We kind of push him in practice. He likes to have a good time, but he knows what he can do when he pushes himself.”


On the new Nike Pro Combat uniforms:

“It’s a different look, and it’s a pretty big honor for us to wear those.”


On the Missouri-Kansas rivalry:

“It means a lot more now. I realize it means a lot more to a lot of people. When I was growing up, it was just another rivalry game, but now I know the implications are huge for that football game.”


On how to win:

“We’ve got to execute our offense. The last few weeks, we’ve been scoring a lot of points, so we’ve just got to continue that in this game.”


On facing Kansas:

“It’s going to be a great game. Reesing is a great quarterback who’s done great things there, so it should be a fun game. Our records don’t matter going into this football game. We both could be 0-9 or 0-10, and everyone would still bring their best to this game.”


Derrick Washington, Tailback

On the new Nike Pro Combat uniforms:

“They look really nice. They came and showed us the uniforms last night in meetings, and everyone just erupted. I can’t wait to put them on. But, a jersey can’t predict how you’re going to play, that’s in our preparation.”


On Kansas:

“KU has a lot of talent. They haven’t executed some things lately, but I’m pretty sure they’re working this week on trying to get those things fixed. Anything can happen in a rivalry game, and they’ll come out with a vengeance. They’re on a losing streak, so they’re going to really want this win. A lot of guys that came from out of state to play here didn’t know too much about KU, but they know now that we don’t like them at all and in a game like that, people really play with emotion.”


On his feelings toward Kansas:

“I’m a Missouri guy, so I’ve never liked KU. That’s something that I grew up with. This game is going to be big. It’s in Kansas City, my hometown, so I’m looking forward to that. A lot of guys are emotional this week. We got the win last week to send the seniors off right, and now we’ve just got to finish strong.”


On the offensive line:

“In these past few weeks, the offensive line has really been working hard. They’ve opened up holes for runners, which also opens up things for Blaine [Gabbert]. He’s having a lot of time, and when he has that he’s going to make something happen back there.”


Kevin Rutland, Defensive Back

On the focus for this week’s game:

“If we win, that betters our bowl game opportunities and just means so much for our team. It says a lot about our team and where we’ve come from, and gives us a boost into next year.”


On how he learned about the MU/KU rivalry:

“The game taught me. My freshman year when I redshirted, we played them at home and won that game. Seeing how the fans were, even just walking on campus, the fans were just crazy. Everyone would say, ‘I don’t care how the season is going, as long as you beat KU, you’ll be fine.’ It’s so big around here, and now it’s a part of my life and has become big to me too.”


Jerrell Jackson, Wide Receiver

On facing Kansas:

“Going into a rivalry game, everyone is going to be hyped to win. It all depends on how hard we work this week and how hard we practice. We just have to be physical and play hard.”


On how he bounced back from early errors:

“Just knowing that the coaches had faith in me and were still giving me opportunities to catch balls helped. I came into the game knowing Jared Perry was out and that I needed to step up, and I just wanted to help out.”


On his feelings after his career game Saturday:

“I struggled in the first half, but in the second half I played pretty well. I was relieved that I ended the game on a good note, but I was most excited that we ended up with a win for the seniors.”


Sean Weatherspoon, Linebacker

On the Missouri/Kansas rivalry:

“It’s the biggest game on our schedule. I remember when I first got here, the only thing I heard in the community was, ‘Go out there and beat KU. Do anything else, but make sure you beat KU.’ I know it’s a big game. There’s a lot riding on it. [Former Tiger] Lorenzo [Williams] always told me, ‘There are a lot of things you’re going to remember about your time here, but one of the biggest will be your record against KU.’ We’ve got to go out there and try to do well.”


On Kansas:

“I think they’ve got a lot of guys on offense who can play on the next level, so whenever you’ve got guys like that, we’ve definitely got to look at that. When you watch film, they make a lot of plays—they haven’t won a lot of games, but we know what they can do.”


On what is at stake in this game:

“A win against Missouri for them [Kansas] saves their season. What we have to do is just go out there and play our game. It’s about us—it’s not really about them, so we control that. We’ve got to prepare the right way, and just go out there and play hard.”


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