Highlights from Missouri coach Gary Pinkel and Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze from today’s SEC teleconference. Missouri plays at Ole Miss next week.
(On open date plans)
“We’re trying to get a few things out of this, one is the mental rest from the grind, then the physical. I’ve got a few guys who are nicked up like everybody does. Academically we get a chance to jump ahead or get caught up. It’s also a good week to organize and get ready for a very tough game against Ole Miss. The timing is good.”
(Recruiting uptick due to success of season?)
“I don’t think there’s any question about that. It’s been very, very positive. That’s a benefit that happens from success. Last year was a very difficult year. Prior to that we had eight pretty good years here in a row. It’s nice to have a lot of people interest in us, and obviously the SEC helps too. It’s a plus for us.”
(on QBs, James Franklin coming back)
“James was having as good a year as any quarterback in the country. Even though Maty’s done a lot of good things, we’ve been very up front about how we’re going to handle that. Our players have great respect for Matt and trust him. James has been here. I don’t know if we need a huge confidence boost. They trusted Maty, but James has been around a while and has the trust of his teammates. I don’t know what the degree of the boost would be.
“What we’ll do is evaluate that and decide Thursday before the game. Maty will definitely play. He’s earned the right to do that, and it’s a very position situation.
“We’re excited to get the sixth win last week and be bowl eligible and get that out of the way. Hopefully we can stay relatively healthy and finish strong.
“I played coach Blakeney and his squad several times at Arkansas State. I know the job they do. We have to get ready to play and bring our best Saturday for them and hopefully finish strong.”
(Most important recruiting task when first hired)
“We had to get an offensive tackle and Pierce Burton was that guy. That was a huge objective for us and I’m glad we got him, then to hold on to the Channing Wards and Issac Grosses and guys already committed to Ole Miss. Then to start trying to create depth, the offensive and defensive lines, particular defensively.
“I was fortunate to have been at San Jose State when he was being recruited, so we had a relationship, and that gave us an edge there.”
(What has been your message in recruiting?)
“Help us to do something new and fresh in a family type atmosphere.”
(What did you think of DT’s game, his season?)
“I thought he gave us a pick-up. He was one of the few who at certain times in that game had the correct passion and energy that we want to display. Sometimes he goes overboard, but I’ll take that any day as opposed to the opposite. He made big plays at critical times when it still remained to be seen who would win the game.
“He’s gotten more confident ever since they’ve allowed him to take that brace off. He’s started to get better and better, and it looks like he’s moving better. He’s getting more confident, and I hope that shows up in the last few games that we have.”
(What enabled you to have success in building last year’s team?)
“Personal accountability and building team chemistry. I’m not sure how good a coach I am in a lot of areas, but I do think I’m gifted in bring together a group of people, giving them a vision and keep them focused and on track. Recruiting is ultimately the key to winning and getting better each year, but in Year 1, just the fact that we gained confidence from having great chemistry and stayed healthy. If we had had injuries last year it could have been really bad.”