Before he said a word about his upcoming matchup with Florida, Eli Drinkwitz made sure to make it clear at his weekly press conference that this week was about the seniors on his team.
“Obviously [this week’s] big for us because it’s senior week,” he said. “[It’s] An opportunity to honor 24 players who have contributed a lot to our program. Some of them have been here for six, seven years, some of them have been here for just a year, some of them have transferred in. They all have made significant contributions to our program, and we’re excited to recognize them.”
With that being said, if the Tigers intend to send their seniors out on a good note at home, they’ll be needing to get past a Florida team that has tons of talent but seems to be reeling at the moment.
With a recent dip in performance, a game that was once viewed as a certain loss for the Tigers has become a possible victory, but Eli Drinkwitz seems to be preparing the same, only singing the praises of the Gators.
Defensively, Drinwitz was very complimentary of a team that just gave up 52 points to an FCS team, but he did make sure to call out some individual names in particular as opposed to the entire defense. “They’ve got elite pass rushers with Brenton Cox Jr. and/or Jeremiah Moon.” He continued, “Kaiir Elam is, in my opinion, one of the top two, maybe top defensive backs in the conference, which would put him in elite company in the country, too.”
Offensively, the Gators will surely come to Columbia riding high after hanging 70 points last week, and Drinkwitz is well aware of the capabilities of Dan Mullen’s team.
“Offensively, they’ve got a very talented wide receiver corps,” he explained. “Their offensive line is big and physical. On average, all of them average over 300 pounds.”
And of course, as a quarterback guy himself, Drinkwitz couldn’t let Emory Jones’ gaudy numbers of last week go unnoticed, “Emory Jones last week set the all time record for passing yards in a game [at Florida]. And I think they’ve had some pretty special quarterbacks at Florida, so that’s rare air to be in.”
As for who will be the other starting quarterback opposite Jones on Saturday, Drinkwitz remained coy, and pointed to practice for the third straight week as to where he’d find his answer. “We’re going to have a great practice today. We’re going to compete today in practice, today and tomorrow and see where we’re at and who gives us the best chance to win,” the Tiger head coach explained.
With the Tigers bowl eligibility hanging in the balance as the season winds down, Drinkwitz claimed that he still will not be leaning into that as a motivation tactic with his team, “I think it’s important for us to focus on being 1-0,” Drinkwitz explained. “At the end of the season, we stack up how many wins you have and determine where you go. But there doesn’t need to be any more external pressure because this game determines whether or not you go to a bowl game.”
He finished off his thoughts by adding, “If we’re not motivated to go play for our seniors and we’re not motivated to play at home, how much motivation do you need?”