Momentum snowballed in the wrong direction two years ago during Missouri’s first season in the SEC.
The result was a 2-6 conference record and a 5-7 overall record, snapping the Tigers’ streak of seven consecutive bowl-game appearances.
Coming off its first shutout loss in 12 seasons, a 34-0 defeat Saturday against Georgia, this year’s Missouri squad hopes to avoid a similar fate.
The Tigers who were around for 2012’s struggles are girding against such a snowball effect.
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“You’ve got to move on to the next game,” senior wide receiver Jimmie Hunt said. “If you let that loss affect you, it could possibly ruin this upcoming game against Florida. You’ve got to be headstrong on that, be mature about it and know, it’s in the back of your mind, but you’ve got to move on and get focused for the next game.”
That’s especially true for Missouri’s seniors.
“The biggest thing is we’ve just got to have a sense of urgency,” senior strong safety Braylon Webb said. “As seniors, we only have six games left. We can’t get down off one loss. It was embarrassing, to say the least, but we’ve got to make sure we’re putting everything into game week (for Florida) to make sure we come out on top.”
The bigger challenge in moving on might be for the coaches more than the players.
“I don’t think this group will check out,” wide receivers coach Pat Washington said. “I really, really don’t think that. Probably the hardest thing is coaches. It’s hard on us to have a game like that. We have to make sure we move forward and don’t dwell on the past, but we’ve definitely got to learn from it. We don’t need to overreact, but yet we do need to react.”
Missouri’s struggles were especially alarming coming off a bye week with an extra week to prepare for Georgia, but it doesn’t matter now.
“You have to have amnesia,” Tigers coach Gary Pinkel said. “Forget about it. It’s done. It’s over. It’s gone. Kind of like the South Carolina game a year ago, that was a different type of loss — a heartbreaking loss, because you had a chance to win it at the end — but you get rid of it and you move on. Anything that lingers will not help us at all to play our best football game this week. And I’m talking to myself as much as I’m talking to the team.”
Missouri at Florida
WHEN: 6 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, Fla.
Other story lines
▪ MORIBUND MAUK: After starting the South Carolina game five of eight for 48 yards, Missouri sophomore quarterback Maty Mauk has completed only 16 of 47 passes — a dismal 34.0 percent — for 181 yards with zero touchdowns, four interceptions and a fumble. He’s also been sacked five times and officially has minus-5 yards on his last 13 carries.
▪ MANY HAPPY RETURNS: Missouri senior Marcus Murphy, who joined Jeremy Maclin and Brad Smith as the only Tigers with at least 4,000 career all-purpose yards last week, is the only qualifying return specialist in the SEC to average at least 10 yards per punt return (11.7) and 25 yards per kickoff return (27.4).
▪ BOUNCING BACK: Excluding season-ending losses, Gary Pinkel’s Missouri teams are 37-20 in the game immediately following a loss, a 64.9 win percentage.