Eli Drinkwitz was brought to Missouri to fix the offense, and his comments at this point in the summer seem to indicate things are heading in the right direction.
Drinkwitz will likely start no more than three returning starters from a year ago. For most teams, that would seem like a red flag. After last season, though, it’s likely to be met with a sigh of relief from Mizzou fans.
The Tigers averaged fewer than 18 points per game last season against conference opponents. Only Arkansas and Vanderbilt performed worse in SEC play.
Drinkwitz identified the problem, and he knew he had to find a solution, so he went to work on the graduate transfer market.
First it was former Rutgers starting center Michael Maietti committing to play this season in Columbia. Then it was former Virginia Tech starting wide receiver Damon Hazelton. Most recently, it was former Angelo State (D-II) starting wide receiver Keke Chism.
That’s three likely starters at three huge positions of need in one offseason.
We’ve raved about Drinkwitz’s recruiting prowess in putting together a recruiting class that’s currently ranked in the top 20 nationally.
Let’s not overlook the players he added that will have an immediate impact.
Maietti allowed the lowest pressure rate in the Big 10 in 2018, per Pro Football Focus.
The only returning power five receivers with more touchdown receptions than Hazelton (16) the last two seasons are Ja’Marr Chase (LSU), Devonta Smith (Alabama), Tylan Wallace (Oklahoma State), Isaiah Hodgins (Oregon State), Tamorrion Terry (Florida State) & Rashod Bateman (Minnesota).
And, according to Drinkwitz, Keke Chism is “an absolute freaking stud, and a steal... He’s really developed himself into a tremendous player, a potential NFL player.”
It remains to be seen what this all means for an offense that struggled to reach the finish line a year ago, but it’s hard not to be excited about the turnover.
The Tigers will feature a new play-caller, (at least) two new starting wide receivers, three new starting offensive linemen and new starting tight end who flashed moments of brilliance a year ago. All of this is on top of one of the best one-two punches at RB in the country.
The offense doesn’t come without significant questions, though. Most notably, we still have no idea which quarterback will start or if said quarterback will be effective. But, at a minimum, the supporting cast appears to have been upgraded.
Drinkwitz is doing his part to get fans excited. Here’s to hoping we get to watch the fruits of his labor this fall.