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Columbia Missourian

Schedule shift requires changes for Missouri football team

By Robert Mays
September 22, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — It was just like any Tuesday.  

Players and coaches had their Tuesday meetings. The team went through its Tuesday practice. It was four days before game day and things were right on schedule.  


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There was just one difference. 

It was Monday.  

The Missouri football team travels to Reno to play Nevada in its first true away game, and the Friday night kickoff has thrown several complications into the team's normal game-week schedule.  

"This is a Tuesday for all of us," coach Gary Pinkel said. "We just had to remind our players they had to go to their Monday classes and not their Tuesday classes." 

Pinkel made the comment as a joke, but later on he noted that academics are one of the many areas affected by a shortened week.  

Aside from a brief meeting with the media, players normally have Mondays off from football-related activities, but moving up Tuesday's afternoon meetings by a day caused class conflicts that aren't normally an issue.  

"It's kinda weird because I had three classes today and that's kinda tough going to class and turning around and coming to practice," senior linebacker Sean Weatherspoon said.

The effort to create a sense of normalcy has been a task Pinkel has been focusing on since the summer. Not only do the Tigers play on Friday this week, but they have a bye week following the Nevada game and are playing Nebraska on a Thursday night the following week.

With less days to work with, Pinkel says the most important thing he and his staff can do is make sure players stay on schedule in terms of their daily routine in proximity to game day.  

"Players understand our countdown days up to a game," Pinkel said. "Whether it's a bowl game, a Thursday night game, a Friday night game or a Saturday game. They like to lock into that. That gets them into their normal preparation stages."

Weatherspoon echoed his coach's sentiment saying that the week might be different, but understanding the similarities between its individual practices days and those of a normal week is the most important thing.

For all the inconveniences brought by the shift in schedule, there are a few positives Pinkel is choosing to take away from the scenario he finds his team in.

Injuries usually begin playing a part in weekly lineups by a team's third game, and the shortened week only compounds the problem. But with the huge lead the Tigers took into last Saturday's game many of the team's starters earned an extended amount of rest.

"As it turned out, I think it's a plus," Pinkel said. "Each guy didn't play 75, 80 plays in a pressure packed game."

The other advantage of a month without a Saturday kickoff is the national stage the Tigers will have the opportunity to enjoy. Both this week's game against Nevada and the team's ensuing game against Nebraska will both be broadcast on ESPN.

"You get a lot of national exposure like that" Weatherspoon said. "Lot of people out there not really talking about the Tigers. Coach Pinkel brought that up today. You've got to go out there and get respect if you want it."

"When you play on Friday night or Thursday night it's like 'Monday Night Football,'" Pinkel said. "You're the only show in town."