BRYAN -- Although they’re in different divisions Texas A&M and Missouri are in the same boat as they make the move from the Big 12 to the SEC in 2012. The Tigers have had a good run in the Gary Pinkel era, and look to extend their bowl streak to eight with another solid season.
Tiger head coach Gary Pinkel said, “We’re really honored to be a part of this. It’s a great league. The respect that the SEC has nationally is a bit overwhelming when you become a member of it.”
Much like the Aggies, the Missouri Tigers are more than happy in their new conference home. Mizzou has enjoyed some success over the past few seasons, and the Tigers think they can carry it over right away to the SEC East.
Pinkel said, “We played in a pretty good league with a team that’s won some national championships over the years and certainly competed at the highest level. Hopefully that helped prepare us for coming into this league. There are just more good teams in this league. It’s like the NFL, every week you play you’ve got to play well.”
Tiger receiver T.J. Moe feels the difference in styles between what the Tigers and the rest of the SEC do on offense will give his squad an advantage. “They play football where they want to run right at you and outmuscle you and just pound the ball into the end zone. We spread ‘em out wide and we try to get guys in space and use our athletic ability to score one-on-one with the guy.
Defensive back E.J. Gaines agrees. “I think the styles are completely opposite and I feel like that’s what’s going to make it so exciting for the SEC fans and other fan bases around each college. It’s just the way that Mizzou does things offensively is just so much different than a lot of SEC schools have seen.”
The Tigers return six starters on offense and seven more on defense. James Franklin threw and passed for a combined 3,846 yards and 36 touchdowns a year ago, but is coming off a right shoulder injury during spring drills.
Pinkel said, “Without question we thought he’d be 100 percent by the first game. I think it will be a little bit interesting to see him being 100 percent and to see where his accuracy is, where his tempo is throwing, those types of things. You can be cleared to be 100 percent but how are you playing? How are you functioning?”
The Tigers play their first SEC game September 8 at home against Georgia, the team picked to win the SEC East. Mizzou feels momentum from a win there could propel them to the top of the East this season.
“That’s really going to set up the season for us,” said Gaines. “Coach Pinkel preaches about how conference games go: you gotta win ‘em if you wanna succeed and keep going on. You gotta win them, so that’s how we’re going to start it off.”
Missouri will kick off the season September 1 at home against Southeastern Louisiana.