Missouri Tigers News and Notes: Gary Pinkel To Stick With Hobbled QB

Ryan FallerAnalyst IOctober 19, 2009

Suffice it to say that the Tigers' backs are now firmly planted against the wall.

Following two frustrating losses in a row, Missouri (4-2, 0-2) will now prepare for this Saturday evening's Homecoming matchup with the third-ranked Longhorns of Texas (6-0, 3-0), who opened Monday as an early 14-point favorite .

The nationally televised showdown is sold out and will air on ABC at 7 p.m. CT.

Since the inception of the Big 12 in 1996, no team that has begun its conference season 0-3 has scrambled to finish with a winning record. In fact, only six percent (3 of 44) of those teams that have lost consecutive games to begin Big 12 play have managed to salvage a winning record.

And as if Missouri's odds against Texas weren't stacked enough, there's this: The Tigers have beaten the Longhorns only once in 15 meetings since 1916—a 37-29 win in Columbia in 1997.

Though unlikely, Missouri is certainly capable of upsetting Texas. For that to happen, the Tigers will have to play their most complete game of the season—and their best game since blowing out Illinois in the season opener.

Missouri's week of preparation began on Sunday, as I'm sure the team wasted no time reviewing the painful film from the Oklahoma State loss. But head coach Gary Pinkel took a timeout Monday morning to answer questions during his weekly Big 12 teleconference .

The hot topic seemed to be the wobbly ankle of quarterback Blaine Gabbert , who Pinkel insisted is fit to start against Texas on Saturday:

“He wants to play,” Pinkel said. “He should play. He’s better right now, this week, without question. He’s battled through it. Chase Daniel never had to do this. Brad Smith never had to do this. It says an awful lot about him.

“I have no regrets playing him and he would want nothing different.”

Texas head coach Mack Brown also fielded questions. Here's what he had to say when asked about the Missouri offense:

"I thought in preseason there’s no way they could be as good losing Dave Christensen and losing a quarterback like they had with Chase Daniel for years. I mean, Chase, they just ran up and down the field on everybody. I think they didn’t have a three-and-out last year until midseason. Then I saw them in the Illinois game and I didn’t think they dropped off at all.

"...But I think they have a chance—Coach Yost has done a great job with the offense and they’re continuing to do exactly what they did last year—I think they have a chance to be just as good as they were last year. Because they already have been at times. Because of that, they scare you to death with us coming to Columbia."



Sophomore middle linebacker Will Ebner is listed as the backup to starter Luke Lambert on MU's newest depth chart . Fourth on the team with 31 tackles, Ebner received significant playing time while Lambert was nursing a bad ankle against Furman and Nevada. But he missed last Saturday's game against Oklahoma State after tearing the lateral meniscus in his right knee the week prior versus Nebraska. Ebner underwent arthroscopic surgery days later and appears likely to play against Texas.

Missouri's game at Colorado on Oct. 31 has been set for a 12:30 p.m. CT kickoff . The game will air on Fox Sports Net. It will be only the seventh time in the past 22 games that Missouri has played during the day.