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PREGAMIN’ THE OFFSEASON

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WE’RE ALREADY COUNTING DOWN THE DAYS UNTIL THE FIRST PREGAME OF 2022 :(

Drink Up!

I have to say, I don’t like the version of of Eli Drinkwitz we saw during most of the 2021 season. I can’t relate to him. He makes $4 million dollars a year. He hangs out with future NFL players. He drinks far too much Diet Coke for my taste. But most of all, he is not helplessly, terminally online.

But this version of Eli Drinkwitz? The one who says stuff like, “when you sew jackass, you reap jackass,” trolls opposing coaches with plastic props, gets on Twitter after big wins and is terminally online? That’s a guy who I can respect, if only because he recognizes the farcical nature of his own job and leans way the hell in.

Drink’s activity this week hasn’t been quite as rambunctious as some of his in-person behavior over the past few weeks, but his tweeting has been no less interesting.

Drinkwitz tweeted this picture out after copying Lane Kiffin’s homework by tweeting out rental car license plates of the states he was visiting/recruiting. And the people are just out here eating it up. Check out those engagement numbers!

Time will tell whether or not Drinkwitz is able to continue his current recruiting success, both on the high school trail and the transfer portal. But at the very least it’s refreshing to know Mizzou has a coach that understands the effect that sort of social interaction can have on a fan base. Here’s to being online for the rest of the offseason, Drink! We’ll be right there with you.

The world of college football changed drastically between the final week of the regular season and Championship weekend, with several high profile coaches and recruits changing schools all within the span of 72 hours. Do these large-scale changes end up hitting Mizzou in some way or the other... or are the Tigers going to weather the storm?

NCAA Football: Louisiana State-Head Coach Brian Kelly Introductory Press Conference Patrick Dennis-USA TODAY Sports

Nate Edwards, Football Editor: The college football carousel always has several casualties and with the new rule allowing players to transfer one time penalty free, this version of the crazy season is going to become the norm, not just some aberration. The fact of the matter is that Missouri should be fine but they better be fine (or learn to be that way) because this amount of movement is going to happen every November for the foreseeable future. Remember: the transfer portal taketh and giveth away and, at this point, I trust the staff to make good acquisitions via portal to replace and surprise attrition they experience.

Brandon Kiley, Lead Football Writer: I think this part of the cycle has a better chance to help the Tigers’ recruiting class than hurt it. Casey Woods leaving isn’t something you want to see, but I think it’s important for people to understand what the role is for a recruiting coordinator. That position doesn’t mean he’s “in charge” of Missouri’s recruiting efforts. It means he helps to handle the logistics. He’s not alone in that regard. Missouri - and every power five school, for that matter - has a recruiting department. Losing a quality recruiter from the staff always hurts. But I don’t think this is some sort of death knell to Mizzou’s recruiting efforts.

I also think they have a real chance to take advantage of this cycle. There are some former Oklahoma commitments worth keeping an eye on. It’s Mr. Steal Yo Commit season. Let’s see what Drinkwitz has up his sleeve.

Aaron Dryden, Staff Football Analyst: Now, Casey Woods has left to be the OC at SMU, but I wouldn’t say that he’s part of those larger scale changes mentioned above. (He will be a big loss though!) As for the rest of the staff: You never know, but I doubt it. You never know who has relationships with who, and it wouldn’t be the craziest thing in the world for a coach to be tapped to head to an LSU, or USC but there are no real glaring connections that I think Mizzou fans need to worry about.

Josh Matejka, Deputy Site Manager: Do you consider Casey Woods a casualty of the cycle? If so, it already has. Aside from that, and maybe some other light staff attrition, I don’t see how much this process affects Missouri. Drinkwitz hasn’t done enough to be lured away from the Tigers and his staff all seem pretty lock-step with where things are headed. I suppose these new coaches could snag a recruit or two that Missouri would have otherwise signed, but I think Missouri can weather the storm pretty soundly.

The transfer portal is sure to to be a hot topic as always, with turnover bound to hit every school hard. Instead of identifying players to watch, name one position on offense and defense the coaching staff should look to shore up via the portal.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Texas A&M Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Nate Edwards: Offense needs a proven running back, but I’d also take an offensive lineman. You don’t need a Tyler Badie every year and I’d really like to see some more complimentary football from the passing game. A proven offensive lineman - maybe a center? - could provide run blocking for the new running backs and pass blocking for our new receivers.

Defensively: it doesn’t seem that the staff believes they need a linebacker so I’ll say they need an older, proven corner since the guys we have left will be super young and untested. Rakestraw will hopefully be back to 100% and better than his freshman year, KAD is the proven nickel who can also pop outside occasionally, but having a #1 corner - or even a replacement level SEC corner - with some experience would do this defense good.

Brandon Kiley: Oh, I love this question. I tried finding players and, well, it was tough. It’s so hard to know who would give Missouri a look and who wouldn’t.

I think positionally, it’s easier to identify where they could/should take an immediate impact transfer. On offense, it would make some sense to look for someone to fill Michael Maietti’s spot along the offensive line. I wouldn’t mind seeing another tight end to add to the overall depth and a grad transfer quarterback wouldn’t be the worst idea (although it seems unlikely). All of those are wants, but Nate’s right; running back is the spot you really might need someone. I have no idea if any of Missouri’s current running backs can carry the load. Heck, I don’t know if any of them would be considered “good.” So, yeah, an instant impact running back feels like a need this year.

Defensively, three spots that stand out: defensive tackle, linebacker and cornerback. The Tigers have some good options in the middle of the defensive line, but they could really use some depth. I don’t see an obvious candidate to replace Blaze Alldredge at linebacker. I like Ennis Rakestraw, Kris Abrams-Draine and DJ Jackson as much as anyone, but you can never have enough corners.

Aaron Dryden: On the offensive side of the ball, I think the spot is probably at running back. You have not only a giant piece to replace in Badie, but there’s also a lot of young, unproven guys behind him. A guy like Zach Evans would be great, but honestly, even an experienced back who’s taken a good amount of power five snaps would be useful for 2022.

On defense, I think it’s very evident that this unit is going to need help at the linebacker position again. You lose Alldredge who wasn’t a world beater, but he was solid and played a lot of snaps in 2021. Finding a guy who is bit more adept at moving sideline to sideline is the play here. If not at linebacker, I’d always take another defensive tackle.

Josh Matejka: Just because I’m a little stinker who wants to be different, I’m going to go with the quarterback position on offense. While the options appeared great in September, here’s where we stand with Mizzou’s QB room: (A) A former All-Freshman SEC QB who dropped off a cliff over the course of nine or ten games; (B) A backup without proven reps who offers you the same skill set as A, but without the trust of the head coach (C) A former four-star recruit who struggled in his limited snaps as a freshman (D) A true freshman who, despite his high recruiting rankings, has never taken a college snap. We can assume at least one of the first three will transfer out, so I’d love to see Drinkwitz bring in an experienced guy, if only to provide a potential bridge year for Horn or Macon.

On defense, I still think the linebackers need some help. Chad Bailey finally burst onto the scene in 2021, and I think he’s a solid piece moving forward. But now you have to replace Blaze Alldredge, who was a house on fire in the final quarter of the season. Go out and shore that position up and I feel pretty good about the 2022 defense.

Mizzou’s recruiting class currently ranks squarely in the Top 20 by most sites and the Tigers are in the mix with several more high-level recruits. Does Drinkwitz end this 2022 cycle with another Top 25 class, or do we see some regression to their historical mean?

NCAA Football: South Carolina at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Nate Edwards: Thanks to Burden - and assuming no losses from the other blue-chippers - this class is almost assured to be Top 20. Obviously Lincoln Riley moving to USC means that the Trojans’ current 120th-ranked class will absolutely jump to Top 30 levels at a minimum, but I’m confident the Tigers will finish somewhere between 15-20. I wouldn’t be surprised if they finish 25th but based off of Drinkwitz’s pitchman reputations and the successes we’ve seen, I don’t anticipate much regression to the historical mean.

Brandon Kiley: There are only 14 teams in the country with more four stars committed than the Tigers (six). The Tigers’ average star rating is 12th nationally. I think it’s a fair bet for Drinkwitz to stick in (at least) the top 20. They also seem to be “in” on multiple uncommitted blue chip talents. I think this is the new norm with Drinkwitz, and that’s fine by me.

Aaron Dryden: This class has the potential to be bigger, and get better. This staff has made a lot of progress with a lot of kids who’re considering Mizzou, and I have to believe a few of these blue chippers decide to choose Missouri. What’s great about this class is that they have the highly ranked blue chip guys like Luther Burden. But then you still have those diamonds in the rough like a Max Whisner, or an Armand Mebou. It’s got a higher ceiling, but a higher floor as well. This class is shaping up to be a rankings anomaly for the Tigers at the rate they’re at now.

Josh Matejka: Having Luther Burden certainly helps stabilize the ranking, and Drinkwitz seems to have his current guys locked in. To stay in the 15-20 range, I think he’ll need to secure at least two more four-star recruits which is very doable given who Missouri is in on at the moment. Assuming these newly located coaches don’t poach any of the Tigers’ players, sticking in the top 20 seems likely. That’s a bananas thing to say, but it’s true!

NAME IT, CLAIM IT! Simple prompt here, folks: Give us one bold prediction for Mizzou’s 2022 offseason.

NCAA Football: Texas A&M at Missouri Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Nate Edwards: Missouri’s recruiting class finishes 18th in the country and adds two former blue-chip recruits via transfer portal.

Brandon Kiley: Eli Drinkwitz adds at least four impact starters via the transfer portal this offseason.

Aaron Dryden: Mizzou will find a way to get at least three more 4-to-5 star recruits sign into the 2022 class.

Josh Matejka: Eli Drinkwitz makes headlines after a leaked video shows him mocking Brian Kelly’s fake Southern accent at a booster event.