By: Nate Smith
Columbia, MO
Twitter: ​​@NateSmithNBA

Kelly Bryant and the Missouri Tigers will play their first SEC game of the year this Saturday, as they welcome South Carolina to Faurot Field. In their final tune-up before conference play, Mizzou took care of business against Southeast Missouri. With a fifty point victory in the rearview and the Gamecocks on the horizon, there was plenty to talk about. Following the win last Saturday, I caught up with Bryant and wide receiver Jalen Knox to ask a few questions about those topics and more.

Kelly Bryant’s Post-Game Comments:

Q: You guys started off the game, in the first quarter alone, scoring on offense, defense, and special teams. How great does it feel when the team is rolling on all cylinders, and how much more confidence does that give the team as a whole?

A: “It’s a great confidence booster when both sides of the ball and special teams get it going. There’s great energy amongst everybody. We gotta keep that same energy throughout four quarters, can’t stall or anything, and just continue to play.”

Q: What stands out to you the most about facing South Carolina next week?

A: “It’s SEC play now for us…it doesn’t matter what you’ve done before, (everybody starts) conference play 0-0, so we’re gonna have to come to ready to play. They’re a really great football team, very well-coached, Coach Muschamp (is going to do) a great job getting those guys prepared and ready.”

Q: You’ve got Larry (Roundtree) and Tyler (Badie) forming a dynamic duo rushing, and obviously Albert has (excelled) catching touchdowns from you. How much more does it open up the offense when Jalen (Knox) has two 50-yard plays?

A: “It helps a lot..we feel like we have a bunch of weapons out on the perimeter and in the backfield..they complement each other well. It makes us very balanced when we can throw the ball downfield but also just hand it off between the tackles and let those guys run.”

Q: Earlier this week, it seemed like limiting penalties (was emphasized)–I know (cornerback) Adam Sparks talked about that. Moving forward this week, do you expect anything else to stand out as a focal point in practice?

A: “I feel like the same thing–we just had a bunch of drives where we just kept shooting ourselves in the foot, you know consistently, with penalties, holding, unnecessary roughness, little things like that, where if we get in rhythm, then get a penalty (to make it 1st & 15) now we’re playing behind the sticks, so we just gotta continue to play smart football.”

Q: Tyler (Badie) told me that (New Orleans Saints running back) Alvin Kamara is one of his favorite (NFL players), someone that he tries to—maybe not emulate—but (can at least) pick up bits and pieces of his game. Is there anybody in the NFL that you (try to do the same with) or learn from at all?

A: “This summer (I was) studying (Tennessee Titans quarterback) Marcus Mariota. Just seeing how he was in college and the NFL…somebody I’ve been kind of trying to model myself around a little bit…I feel like I can do the same things he does.”

Jalen Knox’s Post-Game Comments:

Q: Two fifty-yard catches today. (Does that give you) more confidence moving into SEC play?

A: “It feels good after (not producing as much in the first two games), coming out here and making big plays to set up the team. Coach has confidence in me…coming into the game, he told me I was gonna get these shots, and I need to make the most of them. I feel like I did that today and it feels good.”

Q: When you guys start off the game scoring in all three phases—offense, defense, and special teams—how much easier does that make it (to execute during the rest of the game)?

A: “It makes it a lot easier. That basically lets you know you have control of this game. As long as you do what you need to do, don’t make any mental mistakes, and just play smart football, you’re good. You don’t really have to stress (as much) about what you’re doing. As long as you play your game, you’re good.”

Q: These last couple of weeks—as far as themes of practice—there was a lot of talk about turnovers and (cornerback) Adam Sparks said this week that penalties were an issue. Moving forward into (South Carolina week), what do you expect the themes of practice to be?

A: “Probably the same thing, we gotta keep taking the ball away, keep protecting the ball, not have any turnovers. Most definitely limiting the penalties, I feel like (against SEMO) we had way too many penalties that hurt us. In an SEC game, we can’t have those same types of penalties or we’re gonna put ourselves in danger of losing the game.”

Q: With SEC play (starting this week), how excited are you?

A: “Man, I’m so excited. I feel like this is when the real football starts, you know, get the real competition and go against these SEC cornerbacks. I feel like they’re gonna really give me a good game and good competition.”

Q: “You guys must (love embracing the challenge) knowing how many elite SEC cornerbacks there are?

A: “Oh yeah, most definitely. We feel like you can put anybody against us, we feel like we’re gonna come out on top. We have that mentality like we’re the top dogs of the SEC, and we’re gonna come out here and prove we can play with anybody and nobody’s gonna stop us.”