Following a blowout (though expected) loss to No. 1 Georgia last week, the Missouri Tigers are now looking to get back .500 as they welcome the South Carolina Gamecocks to town. Eli Drinkwitz spoke with the media Tuesday afternoon to discuss the matchup.
Despite a tough performance last week, there were noticeable improvements defensively, and the Tigers will be looking to carry that momentum defending the run into this week. After reviewing the film, Drinkwitz stated the Tigers’ defense came out with more physicality.
“I felt like we were physical in the trenches,” he said. “[Our linebackers] were downhill, fitting gaps, running through. [I] Thought our defensive line did a nice job of shedding blocks, getting skinny at the point of attack, playing more vertical.” He continued, “I thought we did a better job of setting edges. I think there was only a couple of plays that they got out on the perimeter, and those were off quick screens, or swing screens, more than they were on the designed runs that have really been gashing us.”
However, Drinkwitz still wasn’t satisfied and doesn’t want his team to be either. “Obviously we still gave up 166 yards rushing, which is too many, but it was a step in the right direction,” he said.
While the defense’s improvement was noteworthy, with the current state of the Missouri Tigers, who is taking the snaps under center is going to be the main story. Both RS-freshman Brady Cook and true freshman Tyler Macon got their chances to lead the Tigers offense, and Eli Drinkwitz saw some positives from both of their performances despite the loss.
“I thought those guys both played really hard, they both showed a lot of toughness, and they both did some really good things,” Drinkwitz said. “But at the end of the day we didn’t play well enough at that position to give ourselves a chance to win.”
As for when Connor Bazelak will be able to return and relieve Macon and Cook of their duties, Drinkwitz remained coy regarding his starter’s situation. “He’ll be at practice today and we’ll see where we’re at,” he said. “He’s not a hundred percent, but we’ll see where we’re at.”
Regardless of who the Tigers have at QB, they’ll be facing a South Carolina riding high after a huge upset victory against Florida last weekend. According to Eli Drinkwitz, he was impressed with their performance, especially with their ability to control the line of scrimmage against a talented Florida team.
“They controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides. I think they rushed for 250 or 300 yards and had two 100-yard rushers. That alone is going to be enough to win a game in this league,” the Tiger Head Coach said. “Defensively, again, they controlled the line of scrimmage. Florida teams traditionally run the ball really well. I think they kept them to less than 100 yards total rushing yards, which doesn’t happen. In order to do that, you got to be really stout at the point of attack.”