Facing a former Big 12 rival, Mizzou looked to channel the success that revitalized the football program during the mid-2000s.
Instead, the Tigers looked like a shell of their former Big 12 selves in their first meeting against Kansas State since the 2011 season. Missouri struggled to find consistency and showcased lackluster quarterback play en route to a 40-12 defeat.
The inefficiency extended beyond the quarterback, however. Each position group lacked impact and explosiveness against a Wildcats’ defense that looked the part of a fierce predator.
- Brady Cook (15-27, 128 passing yards, 56 rushing yards and two interceptions)
- Jack Abraham (0-3, 0 passing yards and two interceptions)
The “Brady Cook is a capable starting quarterback” statement took a literal hit against Kansas State as the sophomore quarterback left the game at one point following a strong tackle.
Cook’s lackluster performance raised more questions about his ability to lead the Tigers through the gauntlet of SEC play than answered them. His 15 completions primarily consisted of check downs and screen passes, explaining why his yardage at the end of the first quarter sat at a whopping -2 yards.
When he did look deep, the result was one to forget for Mizzou fans.
On a first down from his own one-yard line, Cook under-threw wide a deep ball intended for wide receiver Dominic Lovett, resulting in an interception, and finished the game with a 2-9 mark on passes of 15 yards or more.
A positive from Cook’s game occurred on the ground, where he led the Tigers in rushing for the day with 56 yards.
Cook’s scrambling led to several blows from a ferocious Kansas State defense, but despite the blows, Cook returned and continued to fight, showing his mentality to never give in.
Abraham replaced Cook following his second interception and did not fare any better, throwing two interceptions on his three pass attempts.
Even with the small sample size, Abraham’s reduced mobility was evident. He struggled to get out of the pocket, which had an effect on each of his interceptions. The first of those was on a hurried pass that deflected off Nathaniel Peat and the latter on an under-thrown pass to Lovett.
Mizzou head coach Eliah Drinkwitz’s pursuit of transfer quarterbacks in the offseason attracted several questions of why he wanted a new name at the helm. The quarterbacks’ performance against Kansas State displayed why Drinkwitz pursued several of those higher profile names in the offseason.
Abilene Christian comes to Columbia next weekend, giving the quarterbacks an opportunity to fix what went wrong before the start of SEC play against Auburn, Georgia and Florida. If there were any questions about who will be leading the team going into that contest, Drinkwitz gave a clear indication following the loss.
Drinkwitz: “Brady is our quarterback.”— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) September 10, 2022
- Cody Schrader (TD, 19 yards on six carries)
- Nathaniel Peat (10 yards on 13 carries, three catches for 15 yards)
- Elijah Young (three yards on two carries, one catch for -4 yards)
The trio of Cody Schrader, Nathaniel Peat and Elijah Young registered only 32 yards on 21 carries after combining for 176 yards against Louisiana Tech. While a decrease in yardage was expected, the backs never seemed to find a groove against a Kansas State defense that allowed 131 rushing yards to South Dakota in week one.
A majority of Schrader’s carries, including his one-yard touchdown rush, occurred on the final Mizzou drive, while Peat’s work was sprinkled in every quarter.
It’s evident that Schrader will serve as a power back for the Tigers, especially in goal-line situations. Peat and Young will be utilized in early down roles, providing a different look and style to opposing defenses.
Although Mizzou showcases this trio of tailbacks, the main problem against Kansas State was rhythm. The Tigers started out strong with the running game, but failed to translate that into a play-action game. As a result, the Wildcat defense was able to read the run and prevent explosive plays from happening.
- Dominic Lovett (three catches for 66 yards, six targets)
- Tauskie Dove (three catches for 34 yards, six targets)
- Barrett Banister (three catches for 18 yards, four targets)
- Luther Burden (one catch for three yards, four targets & one rush for six yards)
- Mookie Cooper (one catch for -2 yards, two targets)
After exploding for two touchdowns against La Tech, many assumed Luther Burden to take a step forward. Instead, he went backward.
The true freshman recorded only one catch and received only one rushing opportunity after showcasing his speed and elusiveness last week. For a majority of the game, Cook looked elsewhere and those decisions limited Burden’s effectivity.
When taking a look at where the targets went, a pattern is beginning to develop. Cook’s favorite mid-range and deep target is Lovett while Dove’s and Banister’s presences as veterans are resulting in several targets per game. Cooper has yet to establish a relationship with cook, but will be a name to watch this season.
With the skills that each receiver has, it’ll be interesting to see how Drinkwitz utilizes them in the upcoming games against fellow SEC programs. The key to success will likely run through this group, and unlocking the connection between the quarterback room and wide receiver group may determine whether Mizzou fans witness a bowl game this season.