FIRST PREGAMIN’ OF THE SEASON Y’ALL
TIME TO PREGAME
TOO DAMN HYPE
One Team. One Goal. 1-0— Mizzou Football (@MizzouFootball) August 31, 2022
IT’S ALMOST TIME!#MIZ pic.twitter.com/8VACtQA8Ts
We’re back to the standard highlight reel hype video. Drinkwitz’s motivational speech is backtracked by something sounding like a combination of Rush and Dream Theater... does anyone know what track that is?
♫ I’m So Sophisticated ♫
A week one look worth the wait ...#MIZ pic.twitter.com/sFWISlOOsc— Mizzou Football (@MizzouFootball) August 31, 2022
Two thoughts here. Neither of them exactly positive.
- When will Mizzou learn and commit to the Block M. Please. I’m begging you.
- I’m not opposed to black out uniforms. In fact, they look pretty sharp.
HOWEVER, I am opposed to them without a corresponding black out crowd. When you’re doing a Tiger stripe for the opening game, you have to stick with the standard black shirt on gold pant. It’s a classic look, it jives with the crowd and it feels right.
What’s On Tap?
Ruston, La., is closer to Shreveport than New Orleans, so we’re not exactly rich with inspiration in Week One. But some cursory research tells me Ruston is well-known for hosting the annual Louisiana Peach Festival. Because it’s not an 11 a.m. kick — sorry Bellini — we’re going to rock with a Bourbon Peach Smash. This week’s recipe is courtesy of Gastronom.
.50 ounces honey simple syrup; 1/2 peach, sliced; 5 mint leaves; 2 ounces bourbon; ginger ale
Fill cocktail glass with crushed ice.
Pour honey simple syrup into shaker with peach slices. Muddle gently to slightly break down peach slices.
Add in mint leaves and press down gently onto mint leaves.
Add in ice and bourbon.
Strain into glass with crushed ice.
Top with ginger ale.
Garnish with mint leaves. Cheers!
Know Thy Enemy
Football Editor and All Around Cool Dad Nate Edwards previewed the Bulldogs back in April after they had come off a moderately awful season. But as is the way, things changed in the intervening months. However, a few key things have stayed the same, which Nate highlighted in this week’s game preview.
They are coached by a brand new staff and a guy who has never been a head coach before.
Most of last year’s offensive starters transferred away and their projected starters on defense transferred in (and, in a quirk, most were on Illinois’ roster).
Their air-raid-style offense will be helmed by a former walk-on quarterback who couldn’t see the field at Georgia or TCU and has attempted 48 passes in his five-year career.
Nate is still harping on Drinkwitz for relying too heavily on the Thiccer and lays out finiSHING A DAMN DRIVE OH MY GOD as one of a few key goals for the offense.
With a quarterback willing and able to move, a receiving corps that should be much more dynamic than years past, and (most likely) several running backs capable of seeing the field, the offense should be much more aggressive this year. And against the Louisiana Tech defense they should be able to feast. I expect at least 5 points per scoring opportunity on Thursday.
As for the defense, things can certainly get hairy against an Air Raid offense. The Tigers can limit any damage by keeping the Bulldogs in check on standard downs.
Missouri needs this line to be functional at a minimum and execute much better on standard downs than they did last year. If the Tigers can keep the Bulldog standard down success rate under 40% then they’ll be in a situation to dominate.
WE’RE BACK, BABY! How are you celebrating the first official game week of Mizzou Football 2022?
Nate Edwards, Football Editor: By taking a 1.5 hour pilgrimage to the left and heading back home to Columbia and watch the Tigers win in person. Also going to hit all of my old hangouts and complain about how much they’ve changed since I’ve left.
Parker Gillam, Beat Writer: This week should be considered a national holiday already, so I just treat it as one. Five straight days of college football to kick off the season is glorious, and it begins with Mizzou on Thursday night. As a junior at Mizzou, I have only seen one night game (Alabama opener in 2020, which does that really count?). Here’s hoping we have many more this year.
Josh Matejka, Deputy Site Manager: Same way I always do: with my first Schlafly Pumpkin of the fall. Thankfully, I won’t have to crack it at 11 on a Saturday morning this time.
Jackson Meyer, Football Contributor: If the answer coming out of your mouth isn’t Just Jeff’s, you got it all wrong. Nothing like a banging cheeseburger before a game.
Dan Keegan, Football Contributor: I don’t know who Jeff is and pumpkin beer is gross (editor’s note: HEY. Take it back). I’ll order a pizza and enjoy some beer that tastes like beer. Also, I’m very invested in this year’s Backyard Brawl, both as a fan and for vested financial interests, so I’ll be keeping an eye on the full slate of games Thursday night.
Sammy Stava, Football Contributor: I will be celebrating Mizzou Football’s season opener on Thursday night watching the game on TV with hopefully some Luther Burden Red Hot Riplets and Mizzou-themed Bud Light aluminum bottles (I know it’s nothing special — but I like my BL). There’s a lot of other intriguing games including West Virginia-Pittsburgh and Penn State-Purdue, so it’ll be a good night for multiple TV screens. Maybe this is an unpopular opinion, but Mizzou should open the season on Thursday nights more often.
It’s been an offseason of transfers, NIL deals and, somewhat surprisingly, a calm demeanor from Eli Drinkwitz. What’s your number one program takeaway from the offseason?
Nate Edwards: Either Drink thinks he has a sneaky good team on his hands or he got tired of writing a lot of checks with his mouth that his team couldn’t cash. Whatever his thoughts, this is the first time where the team is a majority of “his guys” and if that means he can finally put his complete vision on the field - even with a bunch of transfers from other programs - then I hope he can finally get a winning season.
Parker Gillam: Drinkwitz is all in on this program. He treaded water through some recruiting down periods, NIL changes, and transfers in-and-out. Yet, he’s been smiling more than ever this fall camp.
After all that, this team somehow has managed to come into this season on the most positive note since he’s been here. This whole offseason the team has talked about how much closer they are and how much fun it is to be a part of a team that is invested. Now, they have to make that translate to on-field success.
Josh Matejka: There certainly appears to be less talk around Columbia these days, which hopefully means there’s a lot more walk in store. Drinkwitz still can’t help himself every now and then, but his calmer demeanor suggests he may be a little more confident in what he’s got going for him. Whether or not that translates to more wins... we’ll see. But I’d wager he feels better about his team than either of the past two years at this point.
Jackson Meyer: My takeaway is that the depth seems to be there and I truly believe that Drink is confident in this team. I don’t want to slap a random number on the win column, but I do believe the team will be much more competitive.
Dan Keegan: I’ve been fascinated with Drink’s public acknowledgements that he played things too conservatively in some aspects last year. Not just in play-calling but in overall scheme and player usage. I hope to see some of the younger players with more upside over veterans. You would think the recent uptick in recruiting would point towards growing pains first and a peak in ‘23-’24; I hope the staff balances winning in 2022 with an eye towards development and future success.
Sammy Stava: My number one takeaway this offseason is that the fanbase still needs to be patient with this rebuilding process. In his first two seasons, Drinkwitz has led Mizzou to two bowl eligible records — which is respectable for a rebuild. On paper, this season’s roster might have more depth due to the significant amount of transfers Drinkwitz and the staff brought in — but this year’s schedule might be more difficult. In other words, Mizzou may have a better team than last year’s, but the end record might not show it. Either way, this is not the make-or-break season (yet). This isn’t exactly the season with “high” expectations — but that will come sooner rather than later.
We know the game script for week one — vanilla, vanilla, vanilla. What are you expecting to see from the Tigers against Louisiana Tech... and what’s one specific thing you’re really hoping for?
Nate Edwards: I just want to see what this offense can do. Mobility with the quarterback! Supremely talented receivers! Multiple options at running back! I want to see a Drinkwitz offense at Mizzou that I saw with Drinkwitz’s stint at NC State: creative usage of multi-tool players that always seemed a step ahead of the defense. I’d also like to see a defense that is competent against the run but, if LaTech is running the offense I think they’re going to run, then I’ll definitely learn very quickly if these corners are ready.
Parker Gillam: LA Tech is no pushover, so unlike last season, I hope to see this team come out of the gates firing. No sluggish start, no poor run defense, no bad turnovers. With the schedule this team has, there is no time to be figuring things out in the first couple of weeks.
Outside of that, the obvious is for Brady Cook to have a great game and really solidify himself as the #1 guy on this team. The jury is still technically out for the fans right now, and if he struggles, then people will start asking questions.
Selfishly, I’d be most happy just to see all of these skill position guys make big plays. Not even just Luther Burden; I want to see the running back committee flash their versatility, and the wide receivers show off their depth. This is the time for Mizzou’s strongest and deepest position groups to make a statement.
Josh Matejka: To be honest, I don’t really care what I see out of the offense. Would it be cool to see Burden top 100 yards and a touchdown in his first game? Sure. I’d also like to see each of the running backs get some play. But what I want more than anything is a rock solid performance from the defense. I’m not saying they need to pitch a shutout. But no more egregious breakdowns all throughout opening night. Button it up all night long and I’ll feel pretty good going into next week.
Dan Keegan: I’m not too interested in what the skill positions do. We know the wide receivers are solid, we know the running backs will be a work in progress. The expectations for Cook will be a solid game manager who makes some plays with his feet when necessary. I need to see the lines dominate on both sides of the ball. Not just play well. Dom-uh-NATE. If the big fellas can’t whip a mid-tier CUSA team, we are in for another long season in God’s own conference (and in Manhattan).
The other thing I’d really LIKE to see is not on the field, but in the stands. I want to see Desiree Reed-Francois’ gambit pay off and have a raucous crowd in Faurot again.
Sammy Stava: I just want to see a well-played game on both sides of the ball for Mizzou. I’m not exactly worried about the final score or covering the spread, but I think it’s fair to say that the Tigers will need to win fairly comfortably for some optimism the rest of the season. I’m really hoping for a touchdown by Luther Burden. His nickname is “Touchdown Luther”, after all.
PICK ‘EM! Over/under for this week opened at Mizzou -19. What are you taking, what’s your final score prediction and who notches the first touchdown of the 2022 season?
Nate Edwards: 19 is just way too high of a spread for this team until I see what this offense can do. I’ll take the points but do believe Missouri should win comfortably. I’ll say 34-17 with a noticeable lack of scoring in the second half and...sure, why not...Cook-to-Burden for the first touchdown of the year.
Parker Gillam: I’m also going to take LA Tech against the spread. Similar to last year’s opener, I think the Bulldogs hang around and stay within striking distance for most of this one, but Mizzou does show that they are the better team throughout the game. Give me Elijah Young taking in a 4-yard outside run for the first touchdown of the year, and the final score will read 35-17 in favor of the Tigers.
Josh Matejka: I’ll take Tech against the spread, mostly because I don’t think Drinkwitz wants to open up the playbook wide enough to go three touchdowns up on the Bulldogs. Still, I think it’ll be a relatively comfortable walk for Mizzou. I’ll say 31-13 good guys with Luther Burden taking a 20-plus yarder in for the first score of the year.
Dan Keegan: Mizzou should win and cover, give me 41-14. First score will be a Thiccer bomb to delight the tiger-striped partisans, and a Brady Cook rushing touchdown for the first touchdown of the season.
Jackson Meyer: I’m gonna give the answer you want to hear and say that Missouri will cover. I want to add that I do believe this will happen and I can see the Tigers walking away with a comfortable 38-17 victory.
Sammy Stava: I said I wasn’t concerned about the final score or the spread, but I do think Missouri covers with a late fourth quarter touchdown to put the game away. 35-14 Tigers, and a Brady Cook five-yard rush is Missouri’s first touchdown of the season.