Saturday, December 6, 2008

Q & A: Gary Pinkel, Missouri

CFI: The fact that the Washington job was out there and you decided to sign a long-term deal…are you a Tiger for life now?

PINKEL: Yeah, as long as they want me – you know in our business they determine how long they want you – so I'm excited about being here and continuing to build. You're always trying to get better and I'm excited about doing that.

CFI: Last season was the first time Missouri advanced to the Big 12 Championship game. What does it mean to do it two years in a row?

PINKEL: I think there is a degree of consistency that was our goal from the beginning. We had a five-point loss and a three-point loss during the season. When you’re playing at the highest level like a year ago we found ways to win those games and we were 11-1, and now we're 9-3. There were some disappointments, but there always are when you look back at games. Our goal was to get the division and to have a chance to compete for the Championship.

CFI: What is the status of Chase Coffman?

Well hopefully he is going to play…he played last week. He was probably about 80 percent. But I'll tell you, we put him in at critical situations and he made some great plays for our football team. He's just a great player. It's very unfortunate he's got this injury to deal with. When he's at 100 percent he's one of the best players in the nation. He is working through it, he is at practice, he's been practicing this week and doing good. He'll certainly play…we'll see how much, I don't know how much he'll play. But he will definitely play in the game.

CFI: Coming off a loss to your rival…does it make any harder to prepare for this game?

I talked to my team the other day, the season is over. We talked about it on Sunday – there are always things you learn. We just made a lot of mistakes in that game, really overcame most of them at the end and almost had a chance to win. I'm the head football coach here and was very disappointed with the way we played. That’s not taking anything away from Kansas, they deserved to win. The game is over, the season is over and we accomplished our goal. Now, let's focus on playing one of, if not the, best teams in the country.

CFI: What can you tell us about this Oklahoma team you’re about to face?

They're real good. They are a very good defensive football team. They're second in the nation in turnover margin and you add that to being good athletes, and that means they're not beating themselves, which is a huge advantage. Offensively they are probably as potent a team as I have ever seen. They're playing at a very high level. Playing a game like this, it's about the kicking game, it's about turnovers, protecting the ball and getting turnovers on a team who has not done that that much. It's about our defense, but it's also about our offense. If you look at the one game that they lost to Texas, a great Texas team that is one of the top teams in the nation, what they did was every time Oklahoma scored Texas matched it the entire game. They eventually took the lead in the fourth quarter so this isn't just about the defense where the defense has to contain these guys. There hasn’t been a defense that’s been able to stop these guys…but it is about trying to limit big plays and getting in long fields. The other side of that is your offense. You're going to have to play well against them, point-wise. You have to do that if you want to stay in the game.

CFI: Have you ever seen a team so explosive and at the same time sound in protecting the football?

PINKEL: I think you model that a little bit. That is how I think of our numbers, interception-wise, turnover wise we are similar to them last year. The last couple times we have played them, last year we played them in the regular season and were leading in the fourth quarter then we made some turnovers. One of them was a coaching error, sending in the wrong play. It was 14-14 last year in the championship game, then we turned the ball over in the third quarter. They say they caused them, which they did…but my standpoint is you got to protect the football. Their offense is very explosive. Like everyone in our league, they run a version of the spread and they do a great job tempo-wise, so it's a challenge.

Photo Credit: Mizzou Media Relations