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2021 Position Postmortem: Quarterbacks

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A review of the quarterback performance for the 2021 season.

NCAA Football: Armed Forces Bowl-Missouri at Army Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2021 season officially over, it’s time to break down the performance of the team position by position. We’ll look at the stats for the year, the departing players, new additions, and some predictions for what we’ll see in 2022.

We start, as always, with quarterbacks.

2021 Missouri Quarterback Passing Stats

The first position in our 2021 postmortem series is one that was the most heavily scrutinized: the quarterbacks.

That’s not unique to the ‘21 season, mind you: the quarterback is frequently over-praised and over-blamed for the team’s overall performance in any given season but there was certainly some merit this past season.

Whether it was injury, a funk, or just an inability to break through a talent ceiling, Connor Bazelak was almost the exact same quarterback as he was in 2020. And with the tantalizing talents of Brady Cook and blue-chip youngster Tyler Macon wallowing on the bench, the obvious limitations of Bazelak’s play - and the mobility talents of his backups - put the quarterback play under a microscope from the Boston College game all the way to the end of the year.

For the season, the quarterback play was, essentially, replacement-level: not enough to flat out lose the game, certainly not enough to win a game. The staff would do itself a ton of favors by finding and developing a quarterback with elite-level play. Whether that guy is currently on the roster or on his way in the near-future, they need to identify that dude and put him in a position for him to win. Regardless of how your offense is designed, you can’t do anything with a subpar quarterback!

The Departed

NCAA Football: Florida at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Connor Bazelak Stats

Seriously, look at Bazelak’s stats in 2020 and 2021: one more game of production, almost same accuracy, slightly more yardage, essentially doubled the touchdowns and interceptions with almost the exact same yards per attempt. There’s more context than “just” stats, but what really hits home is Bazelak didn’t necessarily regress, but instead, stayed the same. That’s cool if you’re in your first start against a haphazard LSU defense, but less good when you’re in your 18th game with tons of tape on your tendencies and weaknesses.

Bazelak stuck with the team through the bowl game as an obvious “break glass in case of emergency” guy, then hit the portal the next day. His landing spot, as of this writing, is unknown, but if he lands in the right spot he should be a totally serviceable starting quarterback. It does mean, however, that the most experienced Missouri quarterback in the room is now gone.

The Returners

NCAA Football: Florida at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Brady Cook and Tyler Macon Stats

Both of these dudes will be splitting reps during spring ball and will have the entire summer and fall to develop and improve on their 2021 performance. Macon only saw action in three games - and one of those was as a sacrificial lamb to the altar of Georgia - but Brady Cook was very clearly QB2 all year. While Macon has tremendous athleticism and potential, Cook was the one who knew the playbook best and could execute on the field more reliably. It is assumed that Cook will be the starter when the 2022 season starts in Murfreesboro and, given his accuracy and 6.9 yards per carry in his five starts, it’s certainly hard to disagree with that sentiment.

The Freshman

MaxPreps

2021 stats: 337-480 (70.2%), 3,986 yards, 37 TDs, 10 INTs/62 rushes, 621 yards, 7 TDs

You know this guy. The braces, the tuft of blonde hair, the quarterback wearing #21... Sam Horn is considered by many to be the true heir apparent in the lineage of great Missouri quarterbacks. If that is indeed the case, then he needs to focus on beating out Cook and Macon with only four weeks of full fall practice under his belt, as he will still be in Georgia playing baseball with his high school team until June. Also, there is a chance that he gets drafted by an MLB team, and if that happens, who knows what he decides to do. If he does show up on campus and beat out Cook, then the sky is the limit for our expectations for Horn but, truthfully, it’s going to be very difficult for a freshman to unseat a multi-year starter at any position, especially quarterback.

2022 Forecasting

  • Prediction: Brady Cook begins the season as QB1.
  • Bold Prediction: Sam Horn becomes the starter after the October 15th Bye Week, getting his first start against Vanderbilt.
  • HOT TAKE: One of these three quarterbacks will not be on campus for the 2023 season.