SEC Media Days: Pinkel wants consistency

Harold Brantley will miss the 2015 season due to injury.
Missouri Tigers quarterback Maty Mauk speaks with press Wednesday, July 15, 2015 at the Southeastern Conference Media Days in Hoover, Alabama.

HOOVER, Ala. –– Maty Mauk says center Evan Boehm and the entire Missouri football team are “PO’d for greatness.”

On Wednesday afternoon at the Southeastern Conference Media Days, Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel and the two-time defending SEC East champions took center stage.

Two years ago at this event, the Tigers were picked to finish sixth in the conference.

One year ago, the Tigers were picked to finish fourth.

This year, Pinkel didn’t care where the writers had placed his team.

“I don’t want to disturb anybody here, but honestly, anybody that knows me, I don’t ever read newspapers, ever,” Pinkel said of the possible middle-of-the-pack prediction tomorrow. “If you picked us first or third or fourth or fifth, it would have no impact on me at all. Just being honest with you.”

Mauk’s confidence seemed to flow like his hair as he entered the room sporting a jet-black suit and a tiger-striped tie. He too didn’t care much for the media.

A reporter asked Mauk what prevents Missouri from earning national respect.

“I think media is the reason, social media in general,” Mauk said. “It’s not the ’60s anymore, you know? Mizzou has emerged. Chase Daniel and them were here, and that was something that was something that put us on the map. It bothers some of the guys, yeah. But it’s not something we can control, so we just have to do what we do.”

What Mauk does is playing big in big moments. Pinkel acknowledged that, saying that Mauk is remarkably good under pressure, but that he "needs to see more consistency.”

For Mauk, that means playing big in the big moments, something he has experience with. Yet, while Pinkel acknowledged that Mauk is remarkably good under pressure, he still "needs to see more consistency” from the likely starting quarterback.

“I think the thing last year was trying to make too many plays, not just the play,” Mauk said of his improvement from last season.

Among other things, the junior quarterback cut his body fat from 20 percent to 11 percent, and he believes that will benefit him come the Tigers’ first game against Southeast Missouri on Sept 5.

“I’ve never really felt this good, really ever,” said Mauk. “My shoulders were all banged up last year but now I feel strong. I feel really good.”

Good enough to run a 4.4-second 40-yard-dash?

“I’ve gone from a 4.5 to a 4.4,” Mauk said, as he walked off of the podium with a sly smile.

Good enough to return to the SEC Championship?

“We got to go out there and not just get there,” Mauk said. “We want to win it. That’s the next stop.”

Pinkel on Harold Brantley

Defensive lineman Harold Brantley was injured earlier this summer in a serious car accident, and he won’t be returning until 2016, Pinkel announced today.

“First of all, his spirits are he’s doing good,” Pinkel said of Brantley. “He has his moments. Henry Josey a couple of years ago kind of went through the same thing, similar type thing. But there’s a guy, great athlete, phenomenal leadership, as you mentioned. He kind of took it over there when Shane (Ray) and Markus (Golden) and some of those other guys left. So that will be a loss, but we have to work around that.”

Pinkel said Rickey Hatley and Josh Augusta will need to take charge, along with A.J, Logan and newcomer Terry Beckner Jr.’s contributions.

Despite this crucial loss for the Tigers, Pinkel insisted that they’re staying positive and will be there for Brantley.

“(Brantley’s) part of our family,” he said. “We reach down and pick him up and put our arm around him and help him through it. He’ll develop –– he can be 100 percent healthy. And he can accomplish all his goals and graduate.”

Highly-Touted Beckner

After the departure of Dorial Green-Beckham, a high-profile recruit coming out of high school, a reporter wanted to know how similar Pinkel would handle Terry Beckner Jr., the No. 2 recruit in the Class of 2015.

“Certainly with Harold’s injury, Terry’s name has come up quite a bit, as far as being able to come in and play right away,” Pinkel said. “One thing about him — he doesn’t get caught up in a lot of stuff. It’s kind of nice. The shining light is not really him. I think he’s a little bit shy in that way.”

Other Tidbits

The Missouri-Kansas rivalry that ended once Missouri entered the SEC was mentioned Wednesday.

“I don’t think there’s any question the fans want it back –– it’s one of the longest rivalries in college football,” Pinkel said. “Hopefully, sometime down the road, we can get it in the beginning part of the season.”

And then, on facilities, Pinkel commented on the football complex being built in the south end at Faurot Field, which is designed to house training areas and offices.

“We’ve got to always be building,” he said. “That’s the way the league is, and that’s also the exciting thing about our league.”

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