COLUMBIA, Mo. - Known as someone who can be very set in his ways, Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel called an audible during the offseason.
As a way to try and stay fresh and avoid the injury bug that has haunted the Tigers in the last two seasons, the coach decided to change up his team's practice routine. Missouri will not have two-a-day practices this year among other changes as a way to keep players fresher for the long haul of the season.
"I'm kind of to the point now where two years in a row like that has been difficult. I told the guys stay healthy, maybe they'll listen," Pinkel joked.
Pinkel noted there would also be changes to conditioning, so players don't get too worn down too early.
Players certainly aren't complaining about the changes.
Missouri quarterback James Franklin feels any modifications that can be made to keep players fresh is a good thing. He said he hopes it will be easier to get his timing down with his receivers, who should be fresher during camp.
"For the defense, if they are feeling good and moving around, they're helping us move around to react faster, making decisions quicker," Franklin said.
The changes for Missouri come at a time when player treatment and safety is a hot topic from high school to college to the NFL.
The Pac 12 announced during its media days last month it would be changing its rules when it comes to practices. Teams can only have two full-contact practices per week during the regular season. During two-a-day practices in the preseason only one of the practices can be a full-contact practice.
Training camps in the NFL no longer feature two-a-day practices and team's offeseason programs were reduced from 14 weeks to nine.
Pinkel also touched on new safety rules put in place in college this year regarding hits on defenseless players. If a defender hits a defenseless player above the shoulder pads, it can be grounds for ejection. Previously that was a 15-yard penalty.
Pinkel said he believes the NCAA and NFL are moving in the right direction when it comes to making the game safer, but said defensive players might get frustrated with the new ejection rule.
"The most important thing is to get it right," Pinkel said. "They are going to have a review and they are going to get it right. I think that's the most important thing. We hate for a tragedy to happen before all of a sudden we start making all these changes. I believe it would happen eventually because of the size and the explosiveness of athletes."
Injuries hurt Missouri last season, especially on the offensive line. Only true freshman Evan Boehm started every game with players almost weekly shuffling in and out of the lineup. Franklin missed all or parts of six games last year with injuries, drastically reducing the offense's production.
The Tigers are hopeful that won't be the case this year.
Franklin said Pinkel met with most, if not all players, after last season to gauge how to better utilize practice time.
"I mentioned to (Pinkel) about no two-a-days, just less full-contact pads, practices for the other positions," Franklin said.
Not having two-a-days is not a drastic change. Missouri usually had fewer than five in each camp.
"It's just about recovery," Pinkel said. "That's what it's all about. Two years of doing everything we normally have ever done, I'm a little hesitant to not do something different. We ended up making that change. We'll knock a period out of each practice. ... Our conditioning, we're going to adjust a little bit. Once a guy proves he can run to a certain point we're not going to keep running him. It's all about recovery and keeping fresh."