Not much to say about Drinkwitz this week, though I do appreciate his cheeky shout to the J-school. I did also want to shout out the way he closed his weekly presser.
Watch: #Mizzou football coach Eli Drinkwitz with the mic drop to end his news conference when asked about playing the No. 1 team in the country. He says opportunities like this are why he chose to come to MU.— Andrew Kauffman (@AndrewABC17) November 2, 2021
"I'm not anxious about it at all. See you Saturday at noon." pic.twitter.com/5iHmipMAmk
To me, this is the epitome of how a Missouri coach should be acting in the year of our lord 2021. We all know this game is going to be miserable. Yes, even Eli Drinkwitz. But you can approach it in one of two ways. You can be a doomer, watching Mizzou get demolished and coming to the conclusion that nothing will ever be better. Or you can be like Drinkwitz and recognize that games like Saturday are (sort of) like house money, an opportunity to test yourself against the best and gather what you need to get to the same level.
Came Through Drippin’
Full disclosure, I have no idea what’s going on here. I get that it’s supposed to be a Squid Game thing, but I have not seen the show, so I’m very confused with the references. It’s an unfamiliar feeling!
As for the uniforms themselves? Perfection. The white jersey is my favorite and the gold block M helmet and pants are a commitment to gold without overdoing it.
What the “Experts” are saying
- Eric Blum wrote about Drinkwitz’s attitude heading into the Georgia game, which hopefully reflects that of the team: relishing the opportunity to measure up against the best.
- With Connor Bazelak’s status in question, Lila Bromberg at the KC Star broke down the skillsets of Brady Cook and Tyler Macon, discussing what each could offer the Missouri defense against Georgia.
- Saturday Down South is already calling for a mercy rule and, honestly, I can’t blame them.
- “Brutal” and “punishing” are words Barrett Sallee uses in his preview capsule. Is he talking about Georgia’s running attack or Missouri’s rushing defense? I’ll let you figure it out.
It wasn’t pretty, but Mizzou was able to scratch back to .500 with a win over Vanderbilt. With the end of the season in sight and only one more reasonably winnable game on the schedule, it’s time to ask: should making a bowl game really make that much of a difference to fans?
Josh Matejka, Deputy Site Manager: I won’t begrudge anyone for wanting to watch their team in a bowl game — in most years, I’d also be rooting for Missouri to scrape together six wins. But at this point getting there is far, far, far down on the list of things I’d like to see from this team. A modicum of pride on defense, additional QB play, younger players getting playing time, avoiding slow starts, etc. I’d rather see improvement in all of those areas before they get to six wins. Will doing those things help them get there? Maybe, but it’s a secondary concern at this point.
Aaron Dryden, Staff Football Analyst: A bowl game should be what everyone is rooting for here. If Missouri finds a way to get to six wins, the narrative and overall feeling on this season would pretty much do a 180. In what amounts to Drinkwitz’s first real season, with all of the issues they’ve had, them being a bowl team would be a nice floor to establish. It also means that they’ll have a win against a team like Florida or Arkansas, which would certainly boost morale.
If Missouri can get to a bowl game, they should go, and should be happy. Besides the fact they’d get the extra practices and the swag, but because it would prove that even in Missouri’s down years, they can be a bowl eligible team, which is something to say for.
Parker Gillam, Football Beat Writer: There’s so many benefits to playing in a bowl game, and even though most fans are waiting on the Sam Horn and Luther Burden show to come to town, they still need a team around them. The culture is still being changed within this program, and more time to practice and spend time with the younger players is invaluable to a coaching staff looking to build a foundation for this program. With the preseason expectations this team had, not making a bowl game would result in Mizzou being one of the more underwhelming teams of the season, which is obviously not a category we want to be in when trying to keep positive momentum around the program.
On top of the internal benefits, the Tigers have a reputation to keep up as a member of the SEC. This conference has a habit of sending 12-13 teams to bowl games every season, and being one of the teams that doesn’t make it puts a target on your back. Especially with Oklahoma and Texas coming soon, the Tigers can not afford to continue to fall down the food chain in the conference. Going bowling along with the rest of the conference will keep this program respectable.
Connor Bazelak continued to struggle against the Commodores and was replaced at the end of the game by Tyler Macon due to injury. Assuming Bazelak is healthy, should he get the start against Georgia? Or should Drink be looking to other options at this point?
Josh Matejka: We’re honestly beyond the point of Drinkwitz needing to switch quarterbacks, though I’m running out of ways to play devil’s advocate for Bazelak at this point. It has become crystal clear that Bazelak isn’t the QB of the future for the Tigers, and he likely won’t be in a Mizzou uniform for that much longer. So why not at least give Brady Cook or Tyler Macon some series to see what they can do? Maybe you maintain his starter status to preserve the locker room (he is a captain, after all) but there’s no football reason for him to be getting all the snaps unless you’re really determined to keep him around beyond 2021.
Aaron Dryden: If Bazelak is healthy, he should start this game. I don’t want Cook or Macon’s first experience as a starter to be against what is possibly the best defense of a generation. If Bazelak is healthy, he’s the play and it’s not really a question.
That said, going forward, it’s a toss up. I don’t think Bazelak is as bad as many want to make him out to be, but you can’t deny that he’s having a bad stretch. He’s turning the ball over and missing guys at an alarming rate. I still think he has good football in him, but if Macon or Cook get starts down the stretch, it’d not because Bazelak hasn’t gotten his chances. Drinkwitz has given him tons of rope.
Parker Gillam: With all that is coming in the future in the form of recruits and Macon’s development, it is fairly certain that Connor Bazelak will not be the guy moving forward. Before the season, that would have been a laughable statement, but here we are. With how this game is likely to go, I could see Macon getting some reps even in the first half when this team is likely down by 21+. Throwing some of these young guys into the fire on the road against literally one of the greatest defenses of all-time will be difficult, but a great learning experience. It might not be pretty, but Macon would likely gain a lot from playing significant time in Athens, even just so he can understand what the pinnacle of college football looks like on the field (meaning Georgia).
Georgia is, uh, quite good: So good that expecting a Missouri upset is maybe the most impossible ask Missouri has faced on a football field in decades. What are you hoping Mizzou comes away with from Athens, other than some sort of dignity?
Josh Matejka: No long term injuries please! Maybe a Harrison Mevis field goal to preserve his hot scoring pace and perfect percentage? Other than that, I’m gravy. This means next to nothing to me.
Aaron Dryden: I want to see competitive behavior. I want to see good body language. I want to see — even when they’re inevitably down by 30+ — they’re still fighting and working hard for every yard. Georgia is a great team, and Missouri isn’t in the same class as them. However, these are the hallmarks of a good program.
Aside from that, I’d like to see Drinkwitz open up that bag of tricks. You have absolutely nothing to lose. I wanna see double passes, flea flickers, everything. Bring the fight to Georgia. Play aggressive.
Parker Gillam: Even if they still score 60+, I would be happy to see UGA at least does so while being balanced. If they do what they do nearly every other game and run the ball and Stetson Bennett has to make maybe 1 or 2 good passes during the game, then it’ll just be annoying. If the Tiger defense can really force Bennett to beat them, then color me impressed. That’s a tall order, though.
PICK ‘EM! Georgia opened as a -37.5 favorite, which honestly seems low if the Bulldogs were to give 100 percent effort for the full four quarters. Do you think the Bulldogs can cover, or will Missouri come away with their first win ATS in 2021?
Josh Matejka: Can they cover? There’s no doubt in my mind. If the Bulldogs wanted to — and this sounds like hyperbole, but I promise it’s not — the Bulldogs could decide the exact score they wanted to hit, reach it before the first half and then keep that same score through the rest of the second half.
However, Kirby Smart doesn’t seem like that much of a cutthroat, especially when he has far bigger things to play for in the coming weeks. I can see the Dawgs cruising to a three touchdown lead and maintaining that pace for the rest of the game by pulling their starters. I can’t honestly see them wanting to run the game to several more scores... unless they’re really that hurt about the Luther Burden hat toss.
Aaron Dryden: I don’t know how I can accurately guess if they will or won’t until a QB has been named. Until then, I’ll say no. They haven’t covered once, and they’re playing the best team in America... on the road. There’s nothing to suggest that this team can cover against bad teams, let alone good ones. The only way Missouri covers is if Georgia sleepwalks through the whole game, and even that may not be enough.
Parker Gillam: Honestly, I think Missouri covers. Georgia will be going roughly 60% starting in the second half, and they may have a 28-35 point lead built up by then. With Tyler Badie, there is always potential for some explosive plays for the Mizzou offense, and I think he’ll break at least a couple chunk plays that allow this team to make it under that 38 mark. Probably something around 45-17 in favor of Georgia, second half is sluggish and Missouri gets a couple of garbage time points.
Josh’s point about the Luther Burden hat toss is very interesting (and slightly scary)...