Senior E.J. Gaines and defensive teammates chat with the media on New Year's Day (Cotton Bowl photo)

Senior E.J. Gaines and defensive teammates chat with the media on New Year’s Day (Cotton Bowl photo)

The Missouri Tigers defense will be looking for some redemption following their SEC Championship loss to Auburn.  Those Tigers used the read option run game to their advantage against Mizzou.  Oklahoma State could employ the same type of strategy on Friday when the 8th ranked Tigers take on the 13th ranked Cowboys in the Cotton Bowl Classic here in Dallas.

Below are some of the comments of Mizzou defensive standouts E.J. Gaines, Kony Ealy, Michael Sam and Andrew Wilson.

DE MICHAEL SAM On Oklahoma State offensive line
“I am very excited about coming back to my home state. I haven’t played on a Friday night in my home state since November 2008. It is very meaningful for me and it is going to be verye xciting. Expect a lot from Michael Sam on Friday.”
On what win in the Cotton Bowl would mean for the Mizzou program
“The win would just prove that we belong in the SEC and we should be respected by everyone in that conference. Which I think we earned a lot of respect from our conference just the nation to show we  belong where we are and we are one of the best in the country.”
LB ANDREW WILSON On concentrating on finishing strong in the fourth quarter
“You can only win the game in the fourth quarter, we always say that. We try to finish everything we do, practice, drills, weightlifting, everything and the coaches build that in your mind then the fourth quarter is a big thing for us.”
On how last year’s tough losses helped motivate team for this year’s success
“It motivated us a lot. We had a chip on our shoulder all throughout last season, through spring ball. We started the season unranked and no one thought anything of us. We carried that chip on our shoulder throughout this season.”
DE KONY EALY On what defensive line needs to do in the game to be successful
“We definitely need to come off the ball and get off our blocks. We have to wrap up on our tackles. We definitely have to frustrate the offense as much as possible and get them out of their comfort zone in the beginning.”
On Oklahoma State offense
“They are athletic. Their running back is pretty elusive. If he gets a step he is gone so you definitely have to wrap up, tackle and maintain gaps. The quarterback is a great dual-threat and makes good decisions whether to throw, to give or to keep. The offensive linemen are pretty good with the run block. The wide receivers are processionals type receivers that are really good
at catching it and getting to the sticks and getting up field. Overall, I think they are a great ball club. We will do our best to try and get the victory.”
On how defense has been able to create some many turnovers
“It’s is about what we do every day in practice. Our coaches teach us turnovers, turnovers and just running and getting after the ball. It doesn’t matter whether the ball is 70 yards down the field or five yards in the backfield, our job is to get to the ball and try to create havoc.”
CB E.J. GAINES On Oklahoma State wide receivers
“They have some great receivers. Tracy Moore, number 87, he is really a great receiver. I think he will play at the next level. Honestly, the don’t remind me of the SEC-type receivers, but going back to the Big 12 when we were there, they definitely remind me of the type of receivers that Oklahoma State has had through the years.”
On whether previously playing in the Big 12 gives Missouri an idea of the style of play of Oklahoma State
“Yes, definitely. A lot of the young guys haven’t seen the Big 12 play like I have. It definitely takes you back so I am excited to see the ball in the air a little bit more than the SEC does.”
On what it is like for the secondary to have Michael Sam and Kony Ealy up front
“It is lovely having guys like Michael Sam and Kony Ealy rushing the quarterback. I tell them also a lot of those sacks are because of me, so I will take credit (laughter). I take some credit. But no, it is definitely great having those guys up front.”