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What is Eli Drinkwitz’s plan at QB?

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Jayden Daniels has committed to LSU. Now what?

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

College football coaches tell us more with their actions than they do with their words. This offseason, Eli Drinkwitz’s actions suggest he’s not content with his current quarterback room.

That’s not to suggest Missouri can’t be successful with Brady Cook, Tyler Macon or Sam Horn starting under center in 2022. They very well might be. But it’s become increasingly clear that - in an ideal world - Drinkwitz would like to go into next season with a starting quarterback not currently on the roster.

Reports emerged early in the offseason Missouri was going after former Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler. Rattler eventually decided on a different SEC school, landing at South Carolina.

More recently, Missouri hosted former Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels on a visit. Daniels has since committed to another SEC school, as well. He’ll enroll at LSU in time to participate in spring practice for new LSU head coach Brian Kelly.

Those are the transfer quarterbacks Missouri was publicly interested in. It’s hard to imagine there weren’t more the Tigers were interested in privately. Teams tell us their plans with their actions more than their words. And Missouri’s actions suggest they would very much like to add a proven player at the position.

So, now what? The Tigers missed out on their top transfer options. Another round of transfers will likely take place after spring ball. Drinkwitz could look to add one of those quarterbacks over the summer, but it seems unlikely any of the summer additions will be as sought after as the likes of Rattler or Daniels. Is Drinkwitz prepared to risk losing Cook and/or Macon to the transfer portal in order to add another mystery box to the position?

Drinkwitz has to get this right.

Recruiting is at a level previously thought to be unattainable at Mizzou. The receiver room has gone through an absurd overhaul over the past couple years. The defense should be much improved with significant additions from the portal. This team has the potential to be quite good in 2022. The roster is set up to continue improving in years beyond.

Unless they don’t get it right at quarterback.

Drinkwitz is a good coach and I genuinely believe he was able to maximize the offense with Bazelak at quarterback. But that’s part of the problem, isn’t it? Missouri’s passing game simply wasn’t good enough the last two seasons. The Tigers ranked eighth and 13th in the SEC in yards per attempt over that stretch. Drinkwitz stuck with Bazelak last season despite his obvious limitations. Bazelak was throwing interceptions at inopportune times and his inability (unwillingness?) to add anything in the running game was problematic.

And yet, Drinkwitz believed Bazelak gave Missouri the best chance to win. Again, listen to his actions not his words. Bazelak started 11 of Missouri’s 13 games last season. The only games he didn’t start came against Georgia when he was injured and the bowl game when it seems clear now Bazelak had already determined he would transfer.

What should that tell us about how Drinkwitz viewed Cook and Macon? It certainly doesn’t portend a whole lot of faith and optimism.

Maybe Drinkwitz was wrong all along. Maybe he made a mistake sticking with Bazelak as long as he did. Maybe Cook’s performance in the bowl game against Army was simply a sign of things to come. Maybe Macon is just young and needs time to develop.

Maybe.

Or maybe Drinkwitz is right, and the Tigers really do need to make an upgrade at the position. Maybe we’ll look back and wonder what the offense could have been with Rattler or Daniels. Maybe another quarterback leaves spring ball as a backup and ultimately chooses to finish his career at Mizzou.

Whatever the case, this much is true: Drinkwitz needs to get this right, and he knows it. A coach known as a bright offensive mind is going to succeed or fail based on how his offense performs. The recruiting has leveled up, and fan optimism seems to be following suit. But none of that matters if the Tigers don’t have an answer at the most important position in sports.

The Jayden Daniels saga is over, but the chase for a quarterback very much is not. Cook and Macon will make their case in spring ball. We’ll see if it’s enough to convince Drinkwitz he doesn’t need to add another quarterback this summer.

Regardless, Drinkwitz will tell us how he feels with his actions, not his words.