Republished from the Jefferson City News Tribune
COLUMBIA — Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel addressed media Monday, although for him, it was already Tuesday.
“We’re trying to merge Sunday, Monday and Tuesday kind of all together into one, so we’re practicing today,” Pinkel said. “For our players, this is really a Tuesday for us.”
The Tigers have shifted their schedule forward a day in preparation for Missouri’s first regular-season Friday game since Sept. 9, 2011. Missouri lost to Arizona State that Friday, 37-30. This Friday, the Tigers hosts Arkansas in need of a win to reach their second straight Southeastern Conference Championship game.
Pinkel said he reenforced the re-scheduling process in the team’s Sunday night meeting.
“I mentioned to them, it’s Monday night,” he said. “(Sunday) was Monday night to them. It’s not Sunday night. And (Monday)’s Tuesday. And so, that’s the mode you have to get on. You have to get in game-week mode, and all your preparation has to be consistent as you normally do to prepare to play your best.”
This Friday contest doesn’t create quite as difficult of a schedule for Missouri as it might have in a different week. Missouri does not hold classes during the week of Thanksgiving, which makes things a bit easier.
“You wouldn’t want to do it every week,” Pinkel said. “For us, to be honest with you, without school in, it makes it a lot easier for our players.”
Quarterback Maty Mauk has bought into the process.
“Obviously, you don’t have that extra day to lay around, but we came out here (Monday), treated it like a Tuesday practice, and we had a very, very good practice,” Mauk said. “We got better today, so I’m really excited about it.”
On a typical Thanksgiving game week, the team holds a morning meeting and final team practice on Turkey Day. Then, the team has a big turkey dinner at noon. This year, that will be held on Wednesday, and Thursday the players will have a 4 p.m. walkthrough before locking in for the following day’s game.
Per usual, Pinkel reiterated the most important thing for his team to do is to focus on itself, not the hubub surrounding it.
“This obviously is a very big game,” he said, “but it’s still about how we play, and if you start thinking of the ramifications of the game, you start thinking of all the other stuff that’s involved with it — that’s not what we do. We play our best when we focus on our opponent that we’re playing, and mostly we’re focused on how we play.”