COLUMBIA — For three weeks, the Missouri football team lost its usual weekly routine. With a Friday game at Nevada, a bye week and a Thursday game against Nebraska, complications ensued. The team’s rigid routine, with each practice and meeting serving a specific purpose and coming on a specific day of the week leading up to the game, was lost. Coaches reminded players to go to the correct classes each day because their football schedule and class schedule no longer matched up.
“I think I almost woke up one time, I just didn’t know where I was supposed to go,” safety Kenji Jackson said.
The Tigers play at 8:15 p.m. Saturday at Oklahoma State.
“I think it’s nice for the players to be back on schedule,” coach Gary Pinkel said. “I thought it was well-organized, the way we did it (changed the routine), players did a good job.”
Because they are playing a game on Saturday for the first time since Sept. 19, the team is returning to its normal routine. This included the team’s usual meeting with the media Monday.
“It’s been fine,” Jackson said. “I went to the correct classes today. So I guess that shows that everything’s OK.”
Jackson said he and some of his teammates came to enjoy playing games during the week, especially since both the Nebraska and Nevada games were televised on ESPN.
“It was a different feel,” he said. “It kind of felt like, not that Saturdays aren’t really intense, but really everybody was watching. All eyes were on us.”
As the team resumes its normal schedule in preparation for Oklahoma State, Pinkel said an important issue is to reduce penalties. The team committed eight penalties against Nebraska for 100 yards.
“That’s discipline and techniques,” Pinkel said. “100 yards of penalties is inexcusable. You create the game you’re in when you do things like that.”
The Tigers have now committed 28 penalties this season that have gone for 282 yards. The team is third in the Big 12 Conference in penalties.
“I’ve always taken great pride around here,” Pinkel said. “We’re generally in the top two or three, generally the top two, least penalized team in our league every year. And we were No. 1 going in and we’re three or four now. I’ve never been a head coach and had four holding penalties in one game.”
Pinkel said the penalties had nothing to do with the way Nebraska played against his team.
“No, I thought that was a pretty clean game all the way around, this game,” he said. “I thought there were, yeah we had a helmet-to-helmet once, we had the horsecollar. But I think that was all aggressive play. I thought on the field, there were no guys talking and doing all that kind of stuff, they were playing football.”
One of Missouri’s penalties was an offensive pass interference call.
“We had a player downfield blocking, 25 yards downfield blocking,” Pinkel said. “Kind of embarrassing, but it’s the truth.”
Pinkel said Monday that defensive back Munir Prince will play against Oklahoma State after missing the Nebraska game with a hamstring injury. Linebacker Will Ebner will miss the Oklahoma State game with a meniscus tear, but could return as early as the Oct. 24 game against Texas. Quarterback Blaine Gabbert and cornerback Carl Gettis are probable with ankle sprains.