COLUMBIA — Without a game to play last Saturday, a few of the Missouri football players had an opportunity to act like regular fans for the day.
Sure, they had practices on Saturday and Sunday, but for a few hours a group of Tigers gathered at the residence of defensive lineman Jacquies Smith and feasted while watching college football on TV.
Smith played host, but it was junior defensive lineman George White who acted as chef. The Flint, Mich., native whipped up an entire spread of barbequed meats, as well as side dishes.
White's menu included barbeque chicken, ribs, beef tips, baked beans, appetizers, macaroni and cheese, greens and potato salad, according to Smith and defensive lineman Dominique Hamilton, two satisfied diners.
"George can cook. He can cook really good," Hamilton said. "I'm going to own a restaurant in the future, and that’s going to be my cook."
"Compliments to the chef," Smith said.
The festivities might have been a relaxing change of pace for players who spent the past four weekends on the field, but make no mistake, these guys were still focused on the next game.
Hamilton said he spent the weekend "working," and part of that was watching closely as the Tigers' next opponent, Kansas State, scored an upset victory over Baylor.
Normally, players would have to wait until film study to see what they will be up against, but this week they got to watch in real time and from a different angle. Hamilton said there are just two angles used during film study. As fans know, a TV broadcast of a game offers many more angles of the action.
Many players said the biggest difference was hearing the commentators during the game and getting another opinion on what's going on.
Quarterback James Franklin said he spent Saturday with his girlfriend. The pair cleaned up around her apartment and used the free time to catch up on some of their favorite TV shows.
What kind of programming was the Missouri quarterback taking in?
"We watched 'The Mentalist.' We watched 'Bones.' We watched 'Numb3rs,' 'The Sing-Off,' 'Gossip Girl,' '90210,' 'The New Girl.'"
Franklin said these shows were joint selections.
The bye week was also a time to heal and recover. Safety Kenji Jackson said he spent time resting and relaxing, and Smith said he was focused on getting more of a range of motion back in his elbow, which he dislocated against Miami (Ohio).
For some, recovery was of a mental nature, not a physical one.
Cornerback Trey Hobson fell into that category after his performance in the team's game against Oklahoma. Hobson was unable to stop several of the Sooners' big pass plays, and he said he spent the bye week attempting to put football aside for a little while.
"I felt pretty bad the whole bye week," Hobson said. "I wish we would have played this Saturday, me personally, so I could have had a chance to redeem myself. Obviously, I wasn't happy with my performance against Oklahoma. I just spent my bye week trying to get my mind off what happened and trying to stay positive and confident."
Hobson said he spoke to his family during the week and that they offered him words of encouragement.
He is confident that both he and the team will have a bounce-back performance against Kansas State on Saturday. His teammates are confident, too.
As Hobson knows, two weeks without a game can give players a lot of time to think. Although, when asked if two straight weeks of prepping for Kansas State could be too much, Missouri players said over-preparation is part of the team's philosophy.
"Coach Pinkel always says it, and I believe it, 'you can never really over-prepare,'"Jackson said. "We're just getting a good feel for them. Seeing what they do repetitively, it just helps. It makes it easy when we go out to practice it. It will help us to be consistent like we need to be."