“Toughness Week” is a fairly new installation to the Missouri fall camp schedule. It consists of six-straight days of practice in the middle of camp (also the hottest portion). Coach Eli Drinkwitz, sporting his typical white bucket hat to keep cool in the heat, was pleased with what he has been seeing during this trying period of the year.
Let’s get the negative news over with first, shall we? Jay Maclin has a broken forearm that will sideline him for 3-4 weeks, while Mookie Cooper has an unspecified lower leg injury with no solid timetable for his return at the moment (possibly 10-14 days, maybe more). The good news, as it were, is that these are not season-ending injuries and Coach Drinkwitz is confident in both of the players’ grasp of the offense, ensuring that they would still be up to speed come game time.
News and Notes
Today’s practice centered largely around special teams and the passing game. The team began with extensive punt coverage and return drills and then transitioned into some one-on-one passing drills. Connor Bazelak started things off with five straight completions to a variety of targets, but the defense responded as the drill went on, highlighted by some stellar play from defensive back Shawn Robinson.
Robinson was also available for the media to speak to today, and you will be hard-pressed to find someone that smiles more than him. His bubbly personality has allowed him to stay positive throughout an ever-changing college career. After starting at TCU as a 4-star quarterback recruit, Robinson transferred to Missouri. Still, he did not win the starting gig, but he found he could still find his way onto the field.
Robinson has clearly settled into his new role well, as Drinkwitz explained that he is one of the last players off the field every day and is constantly working to pick up new techniques and intricacies.
Transitioning from offense to defense is a tall order, but going from quarterback to defensive back is especially rare. Tackling would be the normal concern for such a change, but Drinkwitz frequently mentioned how Robinson has never been afraid to hit and be aggressive.
Robinson credited defensive backs coach Aaron Fletcher and defensive coordinator Steve Wilks for his development. The former quarterback explained that as soon he entered the secondary room, Fletcher told him “You can’t hide in this room, you have to hit.” His experience at quarterback allowed him to understand the scheme aspect, and the coaching staff has brought along the physical element as well.
Oh Captain, My Captain
The official Missouri Football Twitter accounted posted the announcement of the captains for the 2021 season yesterday so today was the first time we were able to speak to the players with established, official player leadership.
Sophomore quarterback Connor Bazelak, senior offensive lineman Case Cook, and junior safety Martez Manuel were elected by their teammates as the leaders of this team. Cook - a rare, two-time Missouri football captain - explained that “being elected captain is the highest honor you can receive in any sport, especially football.”
With fifteen practices remaining, coach Drinkwitz wants this team to begin taking the next steps to be game-ready. Especially at offensive line, Drinkwitz wants these next five practices to be all about individuals separating themselves in key positions battles and beginning to find who they can really rely on this season.