Knowing where his team stood after last season, Eliah Drinkwitz knew he had to do some major work in the transfer portal this offseason to fix some personnel issues.
“We were very tactical with what we plugged holes with. You go from how our rush defense started last year to now, it’s a big difference,” Drinkwitz said in the post-game.
Drinkwitz went out and pulled in eleven transfers this offseason, all of whom were immediately eligible to play. Many of them saw the field Thursday night, and some were the biggest stars of the evening for the Tigers. Here’s the breakdown for how some of them fared and what to expect from them in the future.
Ty’Ron Hopper (LB, Transferred From Florida)
Stats: 6 total tackles, 2 TFLs, 1 sack, 1 INT
Breakdown: There was a lot of buzz surrounding Ty’Ron Hopper in fall camp, and Mizzou fans got to see why Thursday night. The North Carolina product was a monster up front all night, whether it was stuffing run plays or getting after the quarterback. His size and speed allow him to come off the edge or blitz from a linebacker role, and he thrives in being disruptive. He has NFL-potential written all over him, especially if he keeps putting up numbers like this. The Tigers’ quarterback is also a big fan.
“That dude is the real deal. That’s one dude to keep an eye on, he’s legit,” Brady Cook said postgame.
Jack Abraham (QB, Transferred From Southern Miss)
Stats: 2/3, 34 passing yards
Breakdown: Abraham came in late in this game in relief for Brady Cook, and he showed why he won the second-string spot over the likes of Tyler Macon and Sam Horn. The senior orchestrated a nice scoring drive that was methodical and included him going through progressions and finding open receivers. He really proved that he can be a reliable backup option if something were to happen to Cook, and he and Drinkwitz clearly seem to be on the same page.
Josh Landry (DL, Transferred From Baylor)
Stats: 3 tackles
Breakdown: With all of the other incoming names, Josh Landry was a guy who largely flew under the radar. However, he showed on Thursday that he will be a key piece in the defensive line rotation, as he more than held his own up front. It will be interesting to see the snap count between him and the host of other linemen Blake Baker has at his disposal as the season progresses.
Tyler Stephens (TE, Transferred From Buffalo)
Stats: 2 catches, 33 yards, 1 fumble
Breakdown: It was an up and down game for Stephens in his first start for Mizzou. He got the bulk of the snaps at tight end, but a fumble inside the 10-yard line early in the game will be what he is most remembered by for this game. Still, he had a great catch-and-run on a 28-yard reception later in the game, and his blocking was solid all night. We will have to see if he remains the full-time starter, and how much he will continue to be utilized in Drinkwitz’ offense.
Nathaniel Peat (RB, Transferred From Stanford)
Stats: 8 carries, 72 yards, 1 TD, 2 catches, 18 yards
Breakdown: Peat battled the injury bug throughout much of fall camp, and many wondered how much he would see the field in Week One. While Cody Schrader started out the game, Peat slightly outperformed him as the night went on. He flashed his skills on a couple of big runs, including a 34-yard touchdown to put the game away in the 4th quarter. He’s got great speed and can run through arm tackles, and he even got involved in the passing game a fair bit as well. He started on the right track to securing the lead back role on Thursday.
Cody Schrader (RB, Transferred From Truman State)
Stats: 17 carries, 70 yards, 1 TD
Breakdown: Cody Schrader’s story from Truman State to Mizzou is one to watch all season long, and the fact that he started this game’s first two drives is a testament to his work ethic. Schrader proved yet again that he will be a tough, physical runner for the Tigers, as he was largely brought in for short-yardage situations. He did break off a couple of big runs (highlighted by a 29-yard scamper) and has the potential to make defenses pay in the open field. He doesn’t have the same elusiveness or speed as the other backs, but it seemed like he had a role against LA Tech, and he fulfilled it. Brady Cook is a big fan, as the two had similar dreams of playing in the Black and Gold.
“I’m so excited for Cody. He was so excited to be here, and when I talked to him 6 months ago I don’t think he even thought he’d be playing this much tonight,” Cook said post-game.
Jayden Jernigan (DL, Transferred From Oklahoma State)
Stats: 2 tackles, 1 sack
Breakdown: A member of OSU’s vaunted defensive line a year ago, Jernigan picked up where he left off at Mizzou Thursday night. Jernigan was disruptive in the middle and proved to be a quality piece for this defensive line. He is yet another pass-rushing weapon up front.
Kristian Williams (DL, Transferred From Oregon)
Stats: 1 tackles, 1 pass breakup, 1 QB hurry
Breakdown: Another name that flew under the radar this offseason, William’s night was highlighted by a tipped pass that resulted in Joseph Charleston’s pick-six. The Oregon transfer got solid pressure on the quarterback a couple times and showed that he can be a key cog in the rotation at defensive tackle.
Joseph Charleston (S, Transferred From Clemson)
Stats: 4 tackles, 1 INT, 1 Touchdown
Breakdown: After having a pass interference call reverse his interception on the first drive of the game, Charleston got it back twofold with a pick-six later in the half. He showed some great speed and agility on his return, and that was just the highlight of his night, Charleston was known as a great tackler coming to Mizzou, and he was almost always around the ball on Thursday. Coverage was his concern coming in, and, while he was not tested too often, he played well in the back end. He certainly solidified his place as one of the top safeties on this team, and even got to celebrate with son, Dakota, after the game.
Texas A&M transfer cornerback Dreyden Norwood also made an appearance but did not make it onto the stat sheet.