Following a much needed Homecoming victory, Missouri Head Coach Eli Drinkwitz addressed the media for the first time this week as his team prepares to face No. 21 Texas A&M.
The Aggies will be coming into Faurot Field riding high after taking down No. 1 Alabama last weekend, and Drinkwitz knows this will be one of their toughest games of the year.
“They’ve got really good talent on both sides of the ball, and it’s been a process for them to get there and they’re capitalizing on it,” the Tigers Head Coach said. “I know they’ve had a few injuries, but those guys have settled into their positions and they’re playing at a high level, obviously, that’s what you have to do to beat the number one team in the country.”
When any team faces A&M, they know their hands will be full with the Aggies defensive line. “They all are physical and big. They all have quick twitch and bullrush, [and] can throw people off,” Drinkwitz said. He continued, “They keep their linebackers clean, they allow their safeties to play deep so that they don’t have to be fitting in the run.”
If the Tigers are going to take down the Aggies and their vaunted defensive line, Drinkwitz believes that process starts during the week. “We’re all gonna want to win Saturday,” he said. “Do we want to win today’s practice? Do we want to win in meetings today? Do we show the effort that it’s going to take in the meetings and practice in order to execute play well on Saturday?”
One group of players that Drinkwitz said he has been seeing this initiative from is the heavily criticized defensive line. Following the replacement of Jethro Franklin with Al Davis, Drinkwitz said he saw real improvement last week and on Saturday.
“I’m really proud of the way the defensive line and Davis stepped up. I thought that the line was very disruptive, did a tremendous job with negative yardage plays, gap control, [and] sacks,” he said.
No matter how much the defensive line improves, it will still take a total team effort from the Tigers if they want to pull off the upset over A&M. One thing that can surely help that cause is if Tyler Badie continues to run like he did last week. Drinkwitz called Badie’s 42-yard rush in the third quarter last Saturday “the strongest run I’ve seen by a running back in a long time,” and the Tigers might just need a couple more of those to do the improbable come Saturday.