COLUMBIA — Coming off Saturday's 50-6 victory over McNeese State, Gary Pinkel was anything but complacent Monday about Missouri's upcoming game against San Diego State.
Although Missouri cracked the USA Today coaches poll at No. 25 this week, Pinkel said his team must be ready for a challenge on Saturday from the Aztecs, who currently boast the No. 6 offense in the country. The team also runs a complicated 3-3-5 defense, which effectively disguises blitzes.
"This is a real good football team, which I expected it to be, and it's going to be a challenge for us," Pinkel said.
San Diego State, from the Mountain West Conference, will arrive in Columbia this week with a 2-0 record. It shut out Nicholls State 47-0 in the first week of the season, and last week it defeated New Mexico State 41-21. Saturday's victory at New Mexico State marked the end of the Aztecs' 14-game losing streak to nonconference opponents on the road.
Pinkel said he has a great respect for San Diego State coach Brady Hoke, whom he has known for years. Although the Aztecs have not had a winning season since 1998, they have not opened a season at 2-0 since 1994. Hoke, in his second year with the program, has been working to make a name for his team.
"You can see the footprint of his program in a couple years, him building it, recruiting," Pinkel said.
As a coach who's admitted that he's "scared to death" before any game, Pinkel knows he can't expect an easy game on Saturday, especially after last year's near loss to Mid-American Conference team Bowling Green. To prepare, Pinkel is looking at Saturday's game with an eye to the specific details of San Diego State's style of play.
Discussing both San Diego State's pro-style offense and unique defense, Pinkel said the team does a good job of mastering a lot of complex plays.
"Usually when you do as many things as they do, you can't do them all very good because it's just too much," Pinkel said. "Well, they're doing it good."
In contrast, Pinkel said Missouri has a lot to work on, despite its impressive performance against McNeese State.
"We've got a lot to do to improve," Pinkel said. "We're not throwing the ball or running the ball as efficient as we want to do, so we're working in every area in terms of that. Defensively, we've got to get better against the run. You know, third downs we're not as good."
Tailback De'Vion Moore, who scored a touchdown against McNeese State, agreed that he and his teammates cannot expect to repeat their performance from last week.
"Every week is going to be harder than last week," Moore said. "You know, San Diego is a good team. We watch film, and they play tremendous football."