October 21, 2008

Media Day Notes: No looking back

It has been common for the Missouri Tigers to say that all of their goals were still in front of them after a loss the last couple of seasons. On Monday, the Tigers weren't going there.

"The team goals are frigging out the window," Chase Daniel said. "It's do or die time."

What Daniel meant could easily have been misinterpreted. While a national title is, in all likelihood, out of the picture, the Tigers still have a shot to win the Big 12 North and the Big 12 championship. They are still alive for a BCS bowl bid. It isn't that the Tigers aren't aware of these goals, but they refuse to talk about any of them.

"Where we're at right now, it really does not matter anything that has happened in the past," Gary Pinkel said. "Nothing matters behind us. All that matters is us playing, 5:30, playing Colorado."

Instead, the Tigers will talk only about this weekend's 5:30 kickoff against Colorado. Pinkel repeatedly stressed the need for his football team to focus on the Buffs...and the Buffs alone.

"If they're not," he said, "I don't want them on the field."

That could be taken a number of ways. Was Pinkel saying his team had not been focused in its last two games?

"I didn't mean to imply in any way that we have not been focusing," Pinkel said. "This game has become a very, very big football game."

"It's a big game because we made it a big game," Daniel said. "We made it an even bigger game by losing two in a row."

The Tigers find themselves in a situation nearly identical to last season. In 2007, Missouri stood a game behind Kansas in Big 12 play after a loss to Oklahoma. As the Jayhawks stayed undefeated, Mizzou knew it had to win out to even make the regular season finale meaningful. The situation has repeated itself in 2008. The Tigers, 1-and-2, are a game back of the Jayhawks, 2-and-1. While the schedule may be tougher for Kansas this time around, to ensure a spot in the league title game, Missouri knows it must win four in a row prior to the November 29th showdown at Arrowhead.

"I think, really, for our players, any reference to last year probably is not real good. This is an entirely different football team," Pinkel said. "I would suggest that everybody in my organization, in this building, focus everything they've got into 5:30 Saturday afternoon."

"It really is the season. Nothing else really matters right now," Carl Gettis said. "It would be disappointing if we didn't come out and play our A game. It really would be."

The Tigers and Buffs kick off at 5:30 on Saturday.

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