By the Associated Press
Missouri held talkative defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson out of media day Monday after the player’s remarks about Georgia and the Southeastern Conference in general.
Richardson, a junior, said after Saturday’s opening victory over Southeastern Louisiana that he watched some of the Bulldogs’ opening victory over Buffalo earlier in the day but turned off his TV because “it’s like watching Big Ten football, it’s old man football.”
Team spokesman Chad Moller said Richardson “earned himself a vacation.”
“Well, you know we certainly want to say the right things, do the right things,” coach Gary Pinkel said. “I think he just got carried away a little bit, but I handled that internally.”
Richardson’s remarks could end up as bulletin board material to be used as motivation by sixth-ranked Georgia.
“Without question I think anybody looks for things,” Pinkel said. “We want to say the appropriate things. He felt sorry for saying it, he just got excited.
“He’s got great respect for Georgia, as I do. We’ll learn the lessons and move on.”
Missouri got its first honor in the new conference when sophomore Marcus Murphy was selected SEC special teams player of the week after returning punts 70 and 72 yards for touchdowns in the opener.
Murphy is an admirer of former Missouri star Jeremy Maclin, a game-breaker on special teams and at wide receiver in college who’s now starting for the Philadelphia Eagles.
“When I found out I was on punt returns, I looked at a lot of his film just to see the small things he did,” Murphy said. “Jeremy Maclin did help me a lot.”
Murphy tied an NCAA record last done in the SEC by Kentucky’s Derek Abney in 2002, and he’s the first player in school history to have to returns for scores in the same game. He’s also the backup tailback and totaled 180 yards on five punt returns plus 32 yards on five carries.
Linebacker Will Ebner expects to play this week despite being listed as questionable with a neck stinger. Ebner was injured in the first half of the opening victory over Southeastern Louisiana on Saturday night.
He missed two games with a similar nerve injury in his neck two seasons ago, the result of leading with his head on tackles, but said Monday this case was not as severe.
“I feel a lot better this time,” Ebner said. “The last time I could barely move my neck, and they actually had me in a neck brace for a few days. I’m planning on playing Saturday.”
Pinkel said after the game that he hoped to get Ebner back.
Guard Jack Meiners also was questionable with a sprained knee after missing the opener. Meiners, a senior, made seven starts last year.
Max Copeland, a former walk-on, made his first career start in place of Meiners in the opener.
Missouri players had the day off aside from a watching video of Georgia, including the Bulldogs’ triple-overtime loss to Michigan State in the Outback Bowl and their opening victory over Buffalo.
“Certainly, they’re excited about this football game,” Pinkel said. “First of all, it’s historic. It’s the first SEC game, it’s the first SEC home game. I think that’s why it’s going to down in history, they’ll always point to it, talk about it, look at it, how it came out.
“Hopefully, there’s a lot of big games to come.”