As a part of the preparation leading up to the SEC Championship, Missouri players spoke with the media on Monday afternoon to discuss their thoughts on Alabama and being back in the conference championship game for the second straight year.

RELATED: SEC Championship teleconference: Gary Pinkel talks Mauk, Alabama

Bud Sasser, WR

On returning to the SEC Championship

“Awesome feeling. We knew it would be tough to get here, but we knew we had a shot at it and we made it our goal.”

On how Missouri improved after Georgia loss

“I think it was really gradual actually. Because we weren’t hitting on all cylinders … we continued to improve each week. We didn’t listen to what was said about on the outside about our program.”

On lack of big-time recruits coming to Missouri

“Most of the time, no one really thinks about it here. It’s more of a family atmosphere, so no one really thinks about your rankings … everybody here just wants to get the job done.”

On what the team has done to be successful in recent weeks

“Guys have to step up. I think everybody on this team has a done a great job of doing that. We’re put in a position to go out and perform each week …”

On Maty Mauk’s improvements in SEC play

“He’s definitely playing a lot smarter and has a lot more patience. He’s taken care of the football and trying to make a lot more of the right decisions when he’s out there.”

On how Missouri has improved against SEC opponents this season

“I feel like we’re being more consistent than we were at the beginning of SEC play and we’ve also been making some big plays which has helped give us momentum”

On if Missouri deserves a playoff berth if the Tigers win the SEC Championship

“Honestly, I think it’ll play itself out. We don’t worry too much about what could happen, all we want to do is win. We’re worried about being the SEC Champion.”

On Alabama’s defensive backs

“They’re all talented. They all play with a high level of confidence and that’s a swagger they all bring to the table. They’ll be a good challenge.”

Mitch Morse, OL

On a second-straight SEC Championship appearance

“It’s an absolute privilege to go to the game. We know as a group that it’s incredibly hard to make it to the SEC Championship … we don’t take this for granted.”

On Missouri never having top-ranked recruiting classes

“It speaks volumes about the player development we have here. I think Coach Pinkel recruits a guy that’s going to be dedicated to the team. I don’t think I’ve seen more comradery than I have in the past two season … we’re like a family.”

On if being in the SEC Championship last season helps with this year’s preparation

“It’s easy to stay focused each game, but the SEC Championship is a monumental game. It’s a once in a lifetime experience to show up in Atlanta and see what comes with the game … I think we’ll definitely put more onus on film watching in practice, but I think every individual player will be different in what this game means and what they bring to the table.”

On what if felt like to lose in the SEC Championship to Auburn

“It was such a devastating loss last year, we had so much emotionally invested in that game … you play such great competition in the SEC week in and week out, so to be able to come back is unbelievable.”

On if Missouri is looking forward to playing the No. 1 ranked team in college football

“Absolutely. It’s a great competition that we get to play an amazing football team. We can’t wait to showcase our skills on the national spotlight … we’re looking forward to it.”

Markus Golden, DL

On if losing Michael Sam and Kony Ealy added more motivation for Missouri defensive line

“Of course we did, but it wasn’t because of Mike and Kony. It was more just for the team … just to show everybody we have a lot of competitors on this team.”

On how he thinks Missouri will fare against Alabama’s offense

“They got a good offense … really we just have to play our way, play the Mizzou way. No matter what we know we’ll be able to get after the pass rush. We know [Blake Sims] is fast, but we’re fast enough to run him down.”

On what he’s learned from Craig Kuligowski (Missouri’s defensive line coach)

“Everywhere. Mostly just pass rushing moves … Coach [Craig Kuligowski] was able to teach me a bunch of different pass rushing moves that I can use throughout my career.”

On team’s attitude following loss in SEC Championship

“Last year after the SEC Championship game … we weren’t too happy. We worked too hard to get there, so we weren’t too happy …”

On last year’s appearance helps the team

“Just getting out there, it’s going to be a big atmosphere … we already know that now. We got to get out there and play the Mizzou way … and we’re going to be okay.”