HOOVER | The Missouri Tigers come into the 2013 season off a disappointing 5-7 campaign in their inaugural campaign in the Southeastern Conference.
Last year marked the first time Missouri, which went 2-6 in SEC play, posted a losing record in conference since going 3-5 in the Big 12 in 2004.
Gary Pinkel, Missouri's head coach, said Tuesday at SEC Media Days that he is excited with the approach of a new season.
"Last year obviously was a difficult year for us," Pinkel said. "We're used to winning, had some adversity that we didn't overcome."
Pinkel didn't expect an easy ride in Missouri's first season in the SEC.
"The SEC is what I thought it would be. It's certainly a line-of-scrimmage league," Pinkel said. "Offensively, defensively, I don't care how good your skill players are, you've got to be good on the line.
"It's a great league. We're proud to be in the SEC. it's remarkably competitive and that's why i'm glad to be in it."
Missouri lost five defensive starters and three on offense from its 2012 team. James Franklin, erratic last season, returns at quarterback.
"Our last three quarterbacks are playing in the NFL," Pinkel said. "James had more injuries than any (quarterback) I've ever had combined. He missed three games and didn't finish three other games. He pretty much missed half the season.
"He had a great spring. He's healthy now."
Pinkel said the Tigers have the best group of offensive skill-position players that the program has had in at least five years, but Franklin's play will be key in Missouri's spread attack.
"The quarterback has to distribute the ball," Pinkel said.
Pinkel and Alabama head coach Nick Saban were teammates at Kent State under Don James. Pinkel said James gave him some advice years ago, when Pinkel got his first head coaching job at Toledo, that has resonated with Missouri's current situation.
"When things get tough, and they're going to get tough, you concentrate on doing your job," Pinkel said James told him.