The long enduring preseason camp for Mizzou football continues on,
So, 3 things we’ll be watching (and by watching I mean reading about afterwards)
1. Is the Offensive Line holding?
Last season, it became a big problem. Despite having a ton of experience and a good start to the season last year, the O-line kind of wilted down the stretch. This year there’s less experience, but Case Cook started 10 games as a redshirt sophomore, and as a Junior has been named one of the captains of the offense (along with Larry Rountree III).
Missouri imported grad-transfer and three year starter Michael Maietti from Rutgers. Larry Borom started nearly every game last year, mostly at right tackle, and redshirt junior Hyrin White played up and down the line with a couple starts. Redshirt sophomore Bobby Lawrence saw some limited action, along with sophomore Thalen Robinson and R-Soph Javon Foster.
There’s a lot of bodies, but you hope that five guys will stand out and find cohesion as soon as possible.
2. Find a Quarterback who can make the throws
At this stage, indicators are the starting quarterback job may be between Shawn Robinson, the experienced dual threat transfer from TCU, and Connor Bazelak, the redshirt freshman who looked good in limited action before tearing his ACL against Arkansas.
Bazelak is a little more of a pocket passer, but he’s also a good athlete who can run a little bit.
Still, you want someone who can make throws and put the ball on his receivers. Not that Kelly Bryant wasn’t a solid thrower, but the difference between the throws Bryant could make and those Drew Lock could make were obvious. Lock was able to make a pretty average receiving core look amazing. Last year, they mostly struggled.
This receiving unit should be improved with the additions of Damon Hazelton and Keke Chism, but also some really talented youngsters, and don’t forget about Jalen Knox. The only question is, who is going to be getting them the ball?
3. Can the Defensive Line generate pressure?
Throughout the Barry Odom era, the defensive line struggled to get the kind of pressure on the quarterback we were accustomed to with a school which dubbed itself “D-Line ZOU.” Despite having some standouts on the interior, he was never able to find the answers on the outside, and rarely got pressure on the QB without blitzing.
With some extensive depth and returning players on the inside — like Kobie Whiteside, Markell Utsey and Akial Byers — who gets the start on the outside, and can they get to the quarterback?
It’s often said that team success is built upon the ability to protect and pressure the quarterback. So it would make sense that two of these three things are about just that, and the third is the QB himself.
But with Missouri, you have to feel pretty good about the defense being able to keep things competitive. There’s plenty of experience and depth coming back through the back seven. It’s all going to come down to the line play.
So... what say you? What are you watching (reading later on) with a closer eye on than the rest?
Other odds and ends
2021 4⭐️ Legend Geeter is down to 5:— Endless Motor Sports (@endless_motor) August 29, 2020
- Legend Geeter, a big forward from Michigan, released his top five and it included Missouri. We talked about Geeter yesterday, and it’s not clear how involved the Tigers are at this point. But as I said on twitter, maybe just Mizzou signs up everyone who wants to give it a go and sees how it plays out.
- Also, we didn’t get into on Friday, but the MIZ-ZOOM call yesterday led to some insight on the team cancelling practice on Friday to work on social justice items. My general take on Eli Drinkwitz is that, if he’s half as savvy on the field as he is off it, Mizzou should be fine. He’s proven he can handle really delicate situations with his players with incredible dexterity. Which is saying something when you consider how many football coaches stub their toes trying to complete the most basic of human endeavors (outside of the game of football).
- College Football was officially back last night: