IRVING, Texas — Gary Pinkel understands there won't be any excuses for the 2009 version of the Missouri Tigers.
"I don't think any of our fans really care how young we are or how inexperienced we are," Pinkel said during Big 12 Media Days on Tuesday. "They expect a good football team."
Coming off of back-to-back Big 12 North titles, the Tigers lost standout quarterback Chase Daniel, Philadelphia Eagles No. 1 draft pick Jeremy Maclin and All-Big 12 tight end Chase Coffman from last year's 10-4 team.
Losing those playmakers, along with questions about who fills those voids, is the reason Missouri was picked third in the Big 12 North media preseason poll.
The Tigers will be counting on a 2008 recruiting class which was ranked No. 25 in the nation according to Rivals.com and featured 10 players who saw the field as true freshmen in 2008.
"We played 10 true freshmen on a highly experienced team," senior offensive lineman Kurtis Gregory said. "That says good things about what coach Pinkel has been able to do (recruiting)."
Blaine Gabbert, Daniel's potential replacement at quarterback, was ranked No. 14 overall on the Rivals100 in 2008 and is "clearly number one" heading into Missouri's fall camp according to Pinkel. The true sophomore is expected to lead an offense likely to experience growing pains with seven true sophomores sitting atop the post-spring depth chart.