Missouri’s second bye of the season has come at a perfect time.
Mired in a four-game losing streak, the Tigers (4-5, 2-4 Big 12 Conference) have a week to step away from the field and forget about football.
“Our players are getting a few days off, and that’s wise at this point,” coach Gary Pinkel said in Monday’s Big 12 coaches’ teleconference. “Obviously it was a difficult loss. We’ve had several difficult losses.
“Obviously this takes its toll. We’re in kind of uncharted territory, but we expect to get going.”
The most recent loss, a 35-24 home loss to Kansas State, left the Tigers a game behind Iowa State and Nebraska in the Big 12 North.
Although not mathematically eliminated from winning the division, the Tigers have to win their two final games and hope for two losses from Iowa State and Nebraska as well as a Kansas State loss to Colorado.
Pinkel said the Tigers willreturn to the practice field today, then practice Friday and Saturday before resuming their normal weekly preparation for their Nov. 20 home game against Kansas.
“It’s a great time for a bye,” offensive lineman Scott Paffrath said after Saturday’s loss. “I think everybody needs a couple days to regroup. I think we’re a motivated group. I don’t think that’s a problem but get re-motivated because we’re just not putting 60 minutes together. And that’s just killing us.”
The Tigers earned a 21-0 lead midway through the second quarter last Saturday, but Darren Sproles and Allen Webb led the comeback, which gave the Wildcats their 12th straight win against the Tigers.
“To go from one demoralizing loss and jump into another game and a have another demoralizing loss, it’s wearing on the team,” Paffrath said. “It’s wearing on me. I’m sure it’s wearing on the coaches because they take it harder than anybody.
“We read what’s in the media sometimes even though we shouldn’t, and it hurts. We know the town is down on us. Missouri fans are down on us, which they should be. It hurts to go look at my family in the face right now. I don’t know. I guess we’ve got to move on.”
Paffrath was quick to emphasize the blame for the recent losses belongs with the players’ lack of execution.
He also said he has faith in the team’s capabilities and talents despite the struggles and the criticism surrounding the team’s recent efforts.
“I’m 100 percent behind every guy in this locker room, and all these coaches,” he said.
“But the coaches don’t play for us. They can say anything they want about the coaches, but the coaches are doing a great job. We’ve got to execute. That’s what ridiculous, to say it’s all the coaches’ fault. We’ve got to go out there execute what we’re doing, and we’re letting them down. We’re letting Tiger fans down.”
During Pinkel’s tenure at Missouri, the Tigers have won 3-of-5 games immediately after byes, including two of their past three.
They defeated Colorado 17-9 on Oct. 2 after this season’s first off week. Colorado, though, defeated the Tigers 21-16 after a bye last season.
The Tigers broke their 25-year losing streak to Nebraska with a 41-24 upset last season after a bye week.