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Pourover: It’s Quarterback Controversy week, whether you like it or not

Connor Bazelak’s lackluster play and subsequent injury finally forced the door open.

NCAA Football: Missouri at Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve been clamoring for it for weeks.

The stats have been there and mostly backed up and supported Connor Bazelak as the starting quarterback. Last year Bazelak did well. He limited his mistakes, supported a good completion percentage, and was able to move the ball in most instances. But this season, the mistakes are up, the completion percentage is the same but his average yards per attempt is actually down a tick.

Statistics are a funny thing sometimes. Anyone watching Missouri Football this season can watch and see there are things that are difficult to prove or disprove through any statistical analysis, but you just know... something isn’t right. Bazelak doesn’t move as well, his rushing attempts are down, but more than anything his decision-making seems to be worse than last year.

A near perfect example of this phenomenon is the disaster at the end of the 1st half. Despite jumping out to a 10-0 lead, and scoring on both of their first drives and having the ball after a blocked punt on the Vanderbilt 15 yard line, Bazelak’s subsequent interception gave the Commodores the momentum which they turned into two touchdowns and the lead. Despite all of this, Eli Drinkwitz actually did a good job of manipulating the clock to give his offense and his quarterback enough time to piece together a drive to score before the end of the half. Keep in mind, Missouri was losing to Vanderbilt at this point. On a 3rd and 3, Bazelak scrambled up the middle with plenty of room to pick up the first down. And came up short.

Connor decided to slide. In a college football game where you don’t need to have contact to be down, if he’d simply fallen forward he’d have picked up the first down. Then, instead of delaying a bit or even calling timeout to give time to review the play. Bazelak hurried the offense to the line for a quick snap, but did so before a wide receiver could get back to the line in time. A penalty ensued. If it weren’t for Vanderbilt’s ineptness and Keke Chism’s hail mary heroics we might be having a completely different conversation today.

But Vanderbilt is bad. And while Missouri is also bad, they’re just not as bad as Vanderbilt. And Tyler Badie was beyond awesome as usual. And Harrison Mevis was incredible again.

It doesn’t change the conversation, though, that there’s a definite issue at quarterback. It’s one Drinkwitz hasn’t seemed all that interested in having, but now he has to.

Bazelak’s injury, whatever it is, pushes the door open. In the post-game press conference Drinkwitz said his selection of freshman QB Tyler Macon over redshirt freshman QB Brady Cook was simply one of circumstance. They wanted mobility and the threat of a QB run game to keep the Vanderbilt defense guessing a little more than with a pocket passer. It worked. Macon didn’t throw a pass and ran the ball twice, handing off once, and scored a touchdown after Badie ran for 73 yards.

Brady Cook has thrown 4 passes this year, and completed all of them. He threw 7 passes last season completing 6. The passing accuracy has been there in his limited attempts. Macon has only attempted 4 passes, completed 3 of them. We don’t know that either player is the answer. We also don’t know they aren’t.

Whether or not Bazelak is healthy next week, Mizzou faces top ranked Georgia. If Georgia decides to show up, I don’t expect Mizzou to have much of a shot. No matter the quarterback, it seems unlikely this offense will have any success against a defense which has shut down virtually everybody this season. So Bazelak, Cook, or Macon, it’s a tough task. For the clamoring we’ve made about the QB over the last few weeks, being forced into a change against that defense seems almost cruel. Which almost makes this all the more frustrating.

It would’ve been more interesting to see Macon or Brady get snaps against a non-elite defense like... oh, I don’t know, Vanderbilt. Or Texas A&M. Or North Texas. Or Tennessee.

But here we are, pondering what a brand new and inexperienced quarterback might look like after being forced into action against what’s probably the best defense in the country. Good times. (remember Luther Burden)

Stats from Statbroadcast:

statbroadcast 2021 vanderbilt
statbroadcast 2021 vanderbilt

Here are your other SEC scores:

  • 1. Georgia 34, Florida 7
  • 18. Auburn 31, 10. Ole Miss 20
  • Mississippi State 31, 12. Kentucky 17

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