After enjoying a day away from the field and taking in Sunday night’s Philadelphia Eagles-Dallas Cowboys game, the No. 8 Missouri Tigers were up early Monday morning for a 90-minute workout at AT&T Stadium for the 78th Cotton Bowl Classic. Head coach Gary Pinkel said he was pleased with Mizzou’s preparation for the No. 13 Oklahoma State Cowboys (10-2, 7-2 Big 12 Conference).
“We understand that we’ve got a game in four days,” said Pinkel. “The goal at bowl games is to be able to practice, get your focus for practice and get your focus up to play your best game. That’s the goal that we have. Our kids have been good with that all year and, hopefully, they’ll get good at it for this game.”
The Tigers (11-2, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) got back on its normal schedule with that it is normally a “Tuesday” practice. Pinkel said he likes the consistency being shown in their practices as his squad narrows its concentration on the task at hand and keeps its focus on one of the keys areas that could be a part of the storylines of this 78th Classic — turnovers. Two of the top teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision in terms of turnover margin, Mizzou entered bowl season ranked sixth with a +1.23 margin with Oklahoma State just slightly ahead, tied for fourth with a +1.25 advantage. Ball security in games, Pinkel added, comes from his team’s emphasis in every practice to protect the football on offense and create turnovers on defense.
“We always do that. It’s non-stop,” said Pinkel. “You have two teams in the top 10 in the nation in turnover margin. That has a lot to do with why we’re both here. That (turnover margin) has been hugely important in their games. They’re really, really good and we understand that. But what we need to focus on is fundamentally doing the right things. It boils down to us playing our best game. We’re responsible for that. If we do that, we’ll have a chance to win the game.”
Following practice, the team conducted its official Media Day session. Listen to head coach Gary Pinkel.
AUDIO (7:35 Cotton Bowl press conference)