It wasn’t the firing most people wanted, but twas a firing nonetheless.
Eli Drinkwitz made some waves on Sunday, firing defensive line coach Jethro Franklin not 24 hours after the disastrous loss to Tennessee. It was a quick hook for Franklin, who had only been on staff since January and arrived with plenty of college and professional coaching experience. Coaching experience, however, can’t cover for a talent deficiency (though I agree with Sam that the performance so far probably doesn’t match the true talent level of that unit).
Could there be more change on the way? It’s tough to say. It’s tough to see Mizzou’s defense getting worse than this moving forward if only because, well, how could they? The results may be equally as bad with the quality of opponent due to rise (though it should be noted that Kentucky suddenly looks like one of the best teams in the SEC). However, the players and coaches should all be on high alert now, especially Steve Wilks. The defensive coordinator would do well to at least make some signs of improvement, as moving on from him before one full year would look atrocious for Eli Drinkwitz. Wilks has a high buyout and is Drink’s first big coordinator hire at the Power Five level. It would be the first true red mark on his ledger and it’d be a doozy. Still, coaches need to be proactive, and it’ll be hard to find a reason to keep Wilks around if Mizzou cashes in any more performances like Saturday.
As for the firing itself... While 4 games is (arguably) not nearly enough to time to judge a coach’s full impact in the game of college football, Saturday went beyond the pale and clearly someone needed to be held accountable. Franklin clearly knows what he’s doing on some level, but he was likely the cheapest fire and the numbers behind his line’s production sort of speak for themself.
Through five games this season, the Tigers had one of the worst defenses in college football and the worst rushing defense in the FBS, allowing 300.8 yards per game. Against Tennessee, they allowed 677 yards of offense, 452 of which came on the ground.
Mizzou’s linebackers deserve their fair share of criticism, but the run game starts with the guys in the trenches, and they’ve looked inexcusably bad. We know Trajan Jeffcoat has All-SEC talent. Kobie Whiteside is legendarily a freak athlete. Mekhi Wingo has shown flashes of a productive player. At some point they have to play to their ability.
Replacing Franklin will be defensive analyst Al Davis. If you want to know a little more about the man, Dave Matter has the info in his newser.
Davis had been Illinois’ defensive line coach in 2020 before joining Mizzou’s staff this year. Davis played defensive line at Arkansas from 2009-12 then coached there three seasons as a graduate assistant from 2014-16.
So we’re replacing our defensive line coach with Illinois’ position coach from 2020? And he’s a Razorback grad? Cool. Cool cool cool.
Additional football notes
- Lila Bromberg’s weekly report card at the Kansas City Star was, uh, not kind as she only gave one unit a passing grade (and barely at that).
- Can you tell what BK’s working on in the writing lab?
He and Nate will be digesting (we use the term loosely) the Tennessee game in BTBS early this week.
Yesterday at Rock M
- In which Sam makes the case that someone needs to figure out why our players are playing so damn bad
- In which Parker fawns over Mizzou’s excellent special teams units (which are getting a bit lost in the disappointment over the defense)
- In which Mizzou Football feels some heat and decides to can Jethro Franklin
- Sophie Cunningham, the mayor of Columbia, could be bringing back some hardware soon! Her Phoenix Mercury went up 2-1 on the Las Vegas Aces in the WNBA semifinals yesterday, moving one win away from the WNBA finals.
For her part, Cunningham only got 7 minutes in Game 3, but made the most of it by scoring 8 points. (Editor’s note: she was taken out of the game with a calf strain)
- J’Den Cox will wrestle for the bronze in his weight class today at the 2021 World Wrestling Championships!
A big day for Mizzou GOATS!
- Two Mizzou Tigers are competing in this week’s ITA All-Americans tennis tournament which starts today! The athletic department’s website (linked above) has the details.
- With one day left in the Rich Harvest Farms Intercollegiate, Mizzou men’s golf leads Wisconsin by three strokes for the top spot. Bring it home, Tigers!
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