In his opening remarks at Missouri's press conference announcing it had accepted a bid to the 2005 Independence Bowl, head coach Gary Pinkel talked about what a good experience the Tigers had in Shreveport after the 2003 season. But this time around, the Tiger players are aiming to change one thing.
"We definitely want to win," said senior captain Calvin Washington. "That's gonna be one of our things that's gonna drive us is to get a win out of this. We haven't won. We got to a bowl, didn't win it, but we've got a chance now to get one."
The Tigers lost the 2003 game to Arkansas 27-14 to finish 7-5 on the season. But, according to the seniors, there is a difference between that team and this one.
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"I think we're a little bit more mature about it," said quarterback Brad Smith. "I think there was a lot of excitement about it, not going in a while, but I think a lot of the seniors have been there and just want to go out with a win. More of our focus is on that."
"It's definitely more important to win this one," said offensive guard Tony Palmer. "(Last time) was definitely a great experience for us and we played up against a great team. Leaving there with a loss, it left a sour taste, I think, in everybody's mouth. We definitely want to come out with a W."
The Tigers think they have something to prove in Shreveport.
"It's good to play in front of an audience," said Jason Simpson. "We've played on TV two or three times this year, sucked every time. We're definitely going to try to do a lot better this time."
The Tigers went through their first bowl practice on Saturday morning, though they have been conditioning since the end of the regular season a little more than two weeks ago.
"We have to kind of balance this out a little bit between recruiting," Pinkel said. "Our coaches came back in town and we had a practice (Saturday) morning. It was a good practice. We hadn't practiced for a while...It went very, very well, a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of excitement."
The Tigers will release a practice schedule, including which sessions will be open to the media, in the next couple of days. Pinkel also said he hoped to have Sean Coffey back for the bowl game. The senior wideout injured his shoulder returning a punt against Baylor and did not play against Kansas State. Marcus Woods did not practice on Saturday due to a severe groin pull suffered in the K-State game.
PowerMizzou.com will attend all open practices leading up to the bowl game and will have continuous coverage of the Tigers leading up to the December 30th kickoff.