The Tigers traveled all the way to Starkville, Mississippi only to lose decidedly to a Bulldogs team in the bottom of the divisional standings. So why is there still room for optimism?
It’s hard to judge this Missouri team by where they are now after they were predicted to only win only two or three games during the preseason. Head Coach Eli Drinkwitz explained that he and his coaching staff were upset with last night’s outcome, but that they were ultimately very proud of how far this team has come this season. “We didn’t finish the way we wanted to, but we earned ourselves the respect to go to a bowl game,” Drinkwitz said.
Defensively, this game wasn’t the prettiest sight either. Last night was the Tigers’ sixth time this season giving up 30 or more points. A struggling State ground game helped carry them to victory, as they managed to run for 151 yards — the first time all season Mississippi State recorded more than 100 yards rushing under Mike Leach.
In spite of all the points, Missouri may have locked down a defensive weapon for next year. Shawn Robinson, yes — you heard that right — played defense for the Tigers last night. With a dwindling number of scholarship players, Missouri resorted to their third string quarterback, who, if you remember correctly, began the season with the starting quarterback job, to play a crucial role on defense. 2020 loves throwing curveballs.
Robinson played really well. He recorded five tackles, a pass breakup and even recorded an interception on a fantastic read on a bubble pass. Robinson read the route, and broke immediately, making contact with the receiver as the ball arrived, and secured the ball as it bounced free.
Robinson said Drinkwitz brought up the possibility of him playing defense about a month ago. According to Robinson, his options were either to transfer for a third time, or make the switch to defense. He said that he likes it at Missouri, which is why he decided to give up the quarterback position entirely in order to play defense. After the game, Robinson was asked if he is going to continue to play safety to which he responded, “Oh heck yeah, I’m a safety now... I wouldn’t be here right now if I was still a quarterback.” Robinson said he hasn’t played defense since the 8th grade, and he stated there’s still plenty of technique he needs to cleanup, but the early returns are good.
Drinkwitz said the same thing he’s been saying about Robinson all year— he’s an excellent human being with a winner’s mentality. According to Drinkwitz, Robinson was the first guy on the sideline to walk over to Bazelak and tell him to keep his head up following a Mississippi State interception returned for a touchdown. Additionally, Coach believes that Robinson will continue to play defense for the Tigers, stating, “I think the move is permanent, and I think he [Shawn Robinson] is excited about it.”
Coach Drinkwitz said he plans on making sure every single one of his players gets the chance to go home and see their families for the holidays. The Tigers will look to bounce back and end the season on a high note in whatever bowl game they get to play in.