Missouri’s 2019 offense finished a disappointing 90th in SP+ thanks to an injured quarterback, an unreliable receiving corps, and an offensive line that magically became inept once SEC play started. Eli Drinkwitz is his own offensive coordinator in 2020 and will have to rebuild the offense nearly from scratch, with only four 2019 starters returning for the 2020 campaign. However, the glaring issue openly admitted by Drink during a Zoom conference back in June is that the biggest question on the team is, “Who is going to play quarterback”? Let’s take a look together and see how that question might be answered:
The (Presumed) Starter
Our dearly departed Coach Tim Bussen did a fantastic, comprehensive, deep-dive into Shawn Robinson’s strengths and weaknesses so I don’t feel a need to completely rehash it here....but I will. Big arm, inaccurate, decent run threat. And let’s be clear, as a transfer — especially a transfer quarterback — you don’t pick a school to then sit on the bench at the new school; you transfer where you will play. But he transferred to Odom’s Missouri, not Drinkwitz’s, and Drink has the luxury of picking whomever will execute the offense the best.
That being said, I would be shocked if Robinson isn’t taking the first snap of the first series of the first game.
He has experience, he has the highest athletic ceiling of the current quarterback room, and he has previous experience with Coach Curtis Luper from their days at TCU.
I am a huge fan of Taylor Powell’s dedication to this team. I am not a huge fan of his production as a Tiger. In fairness to him, he’s only seen mop-up duty in 2018 and then was thrown into two unwinnable positions in 2019 - the Kentucky massacre and the last-second start at Death Star East, Georgia. For his small-sample-size career, his completion percentage is too damn low (46%), his sack rate is too damn high (5.7%), and his passes damn near go nowhere (5.3 yards per attempt).
But let’s be clear...we need Taylor Powell. Any team needs an experienced, older backup quarterback, let alone a rebuilding team during a pandemic that can take out any player at any time. Powell will see the field...if he’s QB1 from the jump something has gone terribly wrong, but he will get chances to prove himself if the season goes a full ten games.
Connor Bazelak was having himself a decent game against Arkansas until his ACL exploded. The freshman from Ohio certainly wasn’t scrambling all over the field, eluding pass rushers and uncorking bombs down the field, but he was making smart decisions and had good control of the offense. Does any of that translate to Drinkwitz’s offense? Sure! Any offense needs smart quarterback play and even if Bazelak was operating under a condensed Dooley playbook, he was making those smart decisions. That tells me, no matter the difference between the Dooley and Drinkwitz books, I’m sure he’ll have a good grasp of the Drinkwitz system by the time the games roll around. I’m not sure if his skills will be able to vault him over the potential of Robinson, but my guess is a.) he’ll be a factor in the race, and b.) we’ll definitely see him take the field in a 2020 game.
The Wee Baby
The newest addition to the Missouri quarterback room, Brady Cook, comes off of a senior season at St. Louis’ Chaminade with 3,194 yards and 33 touchdowns through the air with a scant 7 interceptions sprinkled in. He arrived on campus in January in hopes of learning the offense and acclimating to the team quicker, but obviously covid negated those effects. Is he talented? Yes. Will he play? Most definitely! Will he start? Nope.
What would dumb Nate do?
Without seeing anything happening in camp, I’d have Robinson start, place Bazelak as the backup, give Cook four games’ worth of experience, and then lock Taylor Powell in a room far away from the team, having him work out at home and take mental reps of the games’ scripted plays and playbook. If Robinson or Bazelak get the COVID, break the glass on Powell and THEN have him rejoin the team.
What’s actually going to happen?
As I’ve mentioned several times on the podcast, and as we’ve seen in the MLB, there’s just no way that we make it to the end of whatever this season is without one of these guys catching the COVID. So, all four will see the field. Despite a new staff in place, Robinson will probably be the presumed clubhouse leader, and while Powell, Bazelak, and Cook will each have chances to dethrone him, Robinson gets the nod. Cook gets four games of experience to keep his redshirt, Powell and Bazelak get a few series per game, and Drinkwitz builds his file on each of these guys for the season that actually counts: 2021.