ATLANTA — Travel delays forced Missouri to cancel its scheduled walkthrough Friday at the Georgia Dome.
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
Missouri, which wasn’t planning to practice and hasn’t done Friday walkthroughs on the road all season, was delayed leaving Columbia due to “weight and balance issues” with the plane prior to takeoff, a team source said.
By the time Missouri landed in Atlanta, there wasn’t enough time to get to the Georgia Dome in rush-hour traffic before Auburn’s scheduled walkthrough at 4:30 p.m., so MU went straight to the hotel instead.
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said his team handled practice the rest of the week very well.
“I wanted it to feel like every other week,” he said. “If I objectively look at it, I think it was.”
Coaches laud Marshall
Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall, a junior transfer from Garden City (Kan.) Community College is viewed as a difference-maker.
“You’re talking about a guy, the very first game knew 25 percent of our offense,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said.
Marshall also drew comparisons to former Missouri quarterback Brad Smith.
“The offense is at a whole different level when you have Nick Marshall in there,” Pinkel said. He’s a playmaker. We had a guy named Brad Smith that broke records in the Big 12 quite a few years ago, plays in the NFL now. He’s athletic like Brad is.”
SEC Network coming into focus
Some details about the SEC Network, which will launch next August, were announced Friday, including a doubleheader for its football debut Aug. 28 — Texas A&M at South Carolina and Temple at Vanderbilt.
The new network will be run by ESPN and air more than 450 live events on TV with 550 more on the digital-only platform in its first year.
Part of the network coverage will include a weekly pregame football show, “SEC Nation,” which Joe Tessitore will host from 9-11 a.m. before a tripleheader of Saturday games.
“All you have to do to the SEC is put a mirror up to it, frame it properly and get out of the way,” Tessitore said. “I’m all in. This thing wasn’t going to happen without me when they made this deal.”
The first “SEC Nation,” which will rotate through the conference’s campuses to chronicle the game-day experience, will be at Auburn on Aug. 30.
There also will be “SportsCenter”-style news-and-information programs as well as documentaries, including 10 annual “SEC Storied” features.
“Our expectation, and we still feel good about it, is that there will be availability across the country,” ESPN Senior Vice President Justin Connolly said.
New chancellor makes appearance
Two days after R. Bowen Loftin was announced as Missouri’s new chancellor, the former Texas A&M president was at the Georgia Dome for coach Gary Pinkel’s pregame news conference.
“I hope we have a good time here,” said a smiling Loftin, who was sporting his trademark bow tie — black and gold, of course.
Loftin and his wife, Karin, flew to Atlanta on Friday morning with Missouri athletic director Mike Alden and other members of the Tigers’ athletic department.
Pinkel said Friday he worked hard to make sure his staff wasn’t wound too tight this week, because he didn’t want it to trickle down to the players.
“Our whole staff, one thing I want to make sure with our staff is that we’re not acting different around our players,” Pinkel said.
Of course, defensive coordinator Dave Steckel was excused from reigning in his intensity.
“He’s a Marine,” Pinkel said. “… Intensity is not one of his problems.”
Pinkel said junior free safety Duron Singleton, who missed Missouri’s last two games and again was listed as questionable on the weekly injury report, should be available for the SEC championship game.
“He had a good week of practice,” Pinkel said. “I don’t know how much he’ll play, but he can play. That’s good for us.”
To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.