Aside from the status updates, probably the biggest thing I’ve taken from Eli Drinkwitz’s comments throughout this early portion of camp is that he wants to “cut it loose” in the passing game. He’s been extremely critical of how conservative his play calling has been and wants to change that.
I, for one, find this refreshing. You don’t usually find a coach who will be that candid about their displeasure with their performance.
Also... He’s right! Drinkwitz has been pretty good as a play caller, but there has absolutely been a tendency to be conservative. There has been a tendency to go into a shell late into close games. There has absolutely been a tendency to keep his passing concepts mostly in the short to intermediate range.
Some may question the timing of the comments, however the timing of the comments make all of the sense in the world. Usually, at the end of a season, coaches will watch every single snap from the previous year and self-scout their team as well as themselves. It’s a common process that helps coaches figure out what they did well and what they need to improve as coaches and players.
This year is no different. It’s clear that they evaluated the talent on the roster at certain positions and made additions to bolster the weak points on the roster. Coach Drinkwitz also came back with an area of his game that needed improvement, which he has made clear.
What does it mean to “cut it loose”?
Cutting it loose is a pretty vague term.
Does that mean that the passing attempts increase? Do the yards per attempt go up? How does it tangibly change?
According to SEC Stat Cat, Missouri’s top three passing concepts in 2021 were screen passes (50), flood variations (40) as well as RB checkdowns (35). All three concepts qualify as those short to intermediate concepts that were leaned onto too heavily in 2021. It’s also important to note that this workload is geared for an offense that has Tyler Badie, so maybe this changes due to personnel advantages at wide receivers.
Said personnel, is Missouri’s potentially awesome group of receivers. They are among the reasons why Drinkwitz is attempting to cut it loose in the first place. They have a stable of talented wide receivers and they know they need to get them the ball. Maybe this means that they’ll operate using more four receiver sets than usual.
Like I mentioned earlier, Drinkwitz coming out and accepting accountability is actually a really good thing. It shows that he’s not too full of himself to accept that he can improve and that he’s flexible enough to recognize that he’s making mistakes and attempting to change them.
Still, the aggressiveness will need to continue to improve. There’s a lot to like about the overall style of play calling but he’s got to continue to grow as a play caller and use his ultra talented group of receivers as more than just curl merchants.
If he can do those things, this offense can truly meet the expectations of what its full potential can actually be.