We’re at the midway point in the season and that sounds like as good of a time as any to do a bit of grading our coaching staff through five games. This doesn’t mean that these coaches are bad coaches, or even doing anything wrong, it just means that maybe their position group hasn’t performed as well as we (or they) would like.
Quarterbacks are coached by Bush Hamdan, who also is listed as the wide receivers coach as well. However, in my eyes, his grade is attached to how well the duo of Connor Bazelak and Shawn Robinson have played through their snaps this season.
One thing I noticed is that neither QB during their time on the field has been particularly reckless with the football. They’ve avoided turnovers and played mostly mistake free. That’s a huge deal for a team who doesn’t have a very large margin for error. I also think that Bazelak in particular has suffered from a few untimely drops. Overall this group has played okay, but I’d like to see Bazelak push the ball down the field more often. Grade: B-
Curtis Luper is the leader of the RB room, and he has the benefit of leaning on two experienced and talented backs. This has been a bright spot for the team and probably the most consistent position group on the field for the Tigers. Larry Rountree III has done nothing but be a wrecking ball and Tyler Badie, when given the chance, has been very effective in both the passing and rushing game. My only gripe would be that through five games, Tyler Badie has only 39 touches. (30 carries, 9 catches) He’s a bright spot in this offense, and gives them another element that teams have no choice but to respect. They’ve got to get him going in the second half. Other than that, pretty good. here. Grade: A-
Also coached by Bush Hamdan, this is a somewhat confusing group to evaluate. On one hand, the grad transfer duo of Keke Chism and Damon Hazelton have been underwhelming at best. Chism has struggled to separate and get open this season. Hazelton has had an issue with drops this year. That’s not ideal when your two most experienced receivers have underwhelmed the way they have.
On the flip side, Tauskie Dove seems to have taken another step in his development. He has been a solid blocker, and sure handed. Barrett Banister remains a consistent chain mover. Jalen Knox has been pretty explosive out of the slot as well.
It’s been a mixed bag overall. I’d really like to see more consistency. Consistent routes. Consistent hands, and consistent blocks. Still a lot of football to be played, but so far meh. Grade: C
Coached by the energetic Casey Woods, this has been an underrated group for the Tiger offense. The Mizzou offense truly uses three tight ends, in Niko Hea, Daniel Parker Jr, and Logan Christopherson. So far they’ve shown the brightest when contributing to run blocking, especially DPJ. They’ve been capable receivers as well but have really stood out in the run game. I’m excited to see the trajectory of some of these young tight ends for the next few years. Grade: B+
The big boys up front are coached by Marcus Johnson, and so far this season, this group is a mixed bag as well. The right side of Case Cook, and Larry Borom have been consistently good all season long. Graduate transfer Mike Maietti has also been pretty good all season long. The issues tend to come from that left side of the lineup. Xavier Delgado has been hit or miss, but without him The Tigers have been abysmal. At left tackle, we’ve seen a mix of Zeke Powell and Bobby Lawrence. Neither have been particularly inspiring, but it hasn’t been all bad for them. I would like to see someone take hold of that job sooner rather than later, and really start to settle in and grow through some of their mistakes. It’s a work in progress, but I’m hoping that some of the opponents are the reason for that. Grade: C
A holdover from the previous regime, Brick Haley is coaching the defensive line and is having solid season up front. Missing arguably their best player among the group in Kobie Whiteside, guys have stepped up through COVID and injury issues. One of the groups that scared me the most, hasn’t been as big of a sore spot as I expected to be. Trajan Jeffcoat and Tre Williams have provided pressure off the edge and have looked pretty good. They could be better. This group needs to tackle better, and create more negative plays. All in all, not bad. I just want to see more. Grade: B-
DJ Smith is a good coach but he has a future NFL draft pick and an all American at Middle Linebacker. We know Nick Bolton is awesome but there are other guys to coach! Devin Nicholson has been a pleasant surprise. He’s making plays but still obviously learning. This group is a little harder to judge, but they’ve been pretty good this season. I want to see Nicholson keep developing. He is in all likelihood the successor to Nick Bolton after this season after all. Grade: A-
This group is the rare group that has two coaches, coaching it. Charlie Harbison is the new hire, while David Gibbs is a holdover from the Odom staff. They made a difficult decision to start Ennis Rakestraw at the start of the season, and it’s been a mixed bag. As to be expected Jarvis Ware has been a nice surprise and has kept the yapping to a minimum. We’ve also seen Ishmael Burdine, and Adam Sparks get snaps with varying levels of success. There’s a lot of youth at this position, but they’ve held up okay. Grade: C+
The safeties, coached by defensive coordinator Ryan Walters have far exceeded my expectations. Joshua Bledsoe has been fantastic and Tyrie Gillespie has done really well too. I’m most surprised with Martez Manuel, and how physical he’s been playing. He doesn’t mind hitting and he’s been okay in coverage too. He’ll be a nice piece for years to come. Grade: A-
We haven’t had to hear too much about the special teams this season, and that’s probably the way that Coach Erik Link would like it. Aside from the LSU game where holding onto punts was a problem it’s been pretty much business as usual. Great punts from Grant McKinnis, and Harrison Mevis has been awesome too. If I’m nitpicking, I’d say that we haven’t gotten really anything from our return game, but after all the muffed punts, there’s been an emphasis on simply making sure that it’s caught. No complaints here. Grade: A