After another blowout home loss to an SEC opponent on Saturday, Eli Drinkwitz all but summarized the game with the final part of his opening statement. “Before we can win a championship, we got to keep from beating ourselves. We weren’t able to do that today.”
A recurring trait of the 2021 Missouri Tigers is their inability to avoid slow starts, and they couldn’t do it again yesterday, “It starts with not turning the ball over in the first quarter and letting them get 14 points off turnovers,” Drinkwitz said.
However, it wasn’t just turnovers that doomed the Tigers; they tried to beat themselves in almost every phase of the game, “Two turnovers on offense, multiple missed throws, holding penalties… Defensively, third downs, sloppy play on special teams with two balls inside the 20. Hats off to A&M, but we can’t overcome that,” Drinkwitz explained with a solemn face.
Drinkwitz acknowledged he saw improvements in the second half effort-wise that were promising, but those improvements will never pay dividends if the Tigers continue getting off to slow starts. “I was proud of the second half, the way they fought and how hard they played. But before we can win a championship, we can’t beat ourselves.”
For a recurring problem, Drinkwitz and his staff have struggled to find solutions to this issue that has resulted in a half-empty Faurot Field for many second halves this year. However, Drinkwitz thinks the bye week might be just what his staff needs to figure out these slow starts. “I’ll have to go back and watch,” he said. “That’s what bye weeks are good for. To go back and figure out what are the issues, how do you fix them, where do you develop, what are the issues we’ve gotta get fixed immediately, how do we get people back healthy in the lineup.”
Only time will tell if the bye week will provide the time for the Tigers to fix these slow starts as Drinkwtiz believes, but if they don’t the Tigers might continue being out of games before the first half even begins.