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09-17-2005, 09:46 AM
Pinkel says Tigers have no reason to hold grudge
By Graham Watson

Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel

COLUMBIA, MO. For the past week, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel has stressed that today's game against Troy is not about revenge. He said revenge comes when a team runs up the score or does something unethical.

Troy didn't do that in last year's 24-14 win in Alabama. The Trojans just played better than the Tigers. After last year's game, Troy coach Larry Blakeney remarked that his team didn't have to beat Missouri 365 days out of the year, it just had to beat them in one 60-minute span.

No, today's game isn't about revenge for the Tigers, but perhaps it's about retribution for the season that went awry after the Troy game last year, as well as the hope of making sure that doesn't happen again.

"I think at the end, you look back and even with all the adversity we had, if we'd have gotten that, we'd have gone to a bowl," Pinkel said. "I think that's what players would look at. It's probably a good idea to look at that prior to the game than after the game."

The Tigers (1-1) are facing a similar situation today. Last week's 45-35 loss to New Mexico opened up questions about the defense and whether this team has enough confidence to get back on a winning path. Several players say this year's team has a different mentality from last year's, a more positive mentality. Some said it was a little ambitious to think they would go undefeated and that the early adversity will test the fragile team.

"This team has grown up a little bit," wide receiver Will Franklin said. "Last year, everybody knows it was a big learning experience for us. A lot of us that are still here, we've got something inside of us that's telling us not to quit and not to let up. We had a lot of guys that would let up at times in certain situations (last year), but this year our leaders are keeping us forward. We've got a mentality now where we don't punch it in."

The term "flush it" was something the players would say after losses last year, but many of them admit that the Troy game was one that they could never quite let go. Perhaps defeating Troy can let some of those feelings loose and let the Tigers get on with the rest of the season.

"We're definitely going into this game with a chip on our shoulders from last year, but we're not looking back at last year," Franklin said. "We're looking forward to the new things we have going for our team this year."