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This was the year. Not to win a title, don’t be silly. But this was going to be the year Missouri got back to respectability. The Tigers would show the necessary adjustments offensively and enough progress defensively to give fans hope that 2023 would be the year the team started contending for something meaningful again.
That hope feels lost.
Missouri stacked a 40-12 loss at Kansas State with a less-than-inspiring 34-17 win against Abilene Christian. K-State following its dominant win against Missouri with a 17-10 loss at home against Tulane certainly didn’t help matters.
Coaching decisions have been frustrating. On-field execution has been baffling. The schedule is daunting. It all adds up to what could be a lost season if things don’t get turned around, and quick.
Missouri spent the offseason scouring the transfer portal for a new starting quarterback. While some questioned that approach, it’s becoming apparent why Eli Drinkwitz felt such an addition was necessary. I like Brady Cook. I think he has the potential to be a solid starting quarterback down the road in the right situation. This is not that situation.
The Tigers’ main selling point for their offensive line was the notion that they had options. But what if those options don’t perform? What does it say when the head coach is openly questioning after week three if the team picked the right starting five? Does that seem a bit problematic?
Oh, and don’t get me started on the Luther Burden III punt return situation. It took three weeks to figure out LUTHER BURDEN was the Tigers’ best option as a punt returner? Really?
Alright, sorry, that’s an aside that doesn’t much matter. The point is: Missouri doesn’t look like a team ready to take that next step. Drinkwitz finished each of his first two regular seasons with a .500 record (5-5 in 20020, 6-6 in 2021). It can be argued that this year’s schedule is more difficult, but the team was supposed to be better. Tangible progress was supposed to be represented by at worst a .500 record.
I no longer have faith that such a record can be achieved. Not by this team. Not this year. Missouri’s remaining schedule (with respective SP+ rankings) is as follows:
- @ Auburn (#34)
- Georgia (#1)
- @Florida (#33)
- Vanderbilt (#86)
- @ South Carolina (#52)
- Kentucky (#10)
- @ Tennessee (#8)
- New Mexico State (#130)
- Arkansas (#21)
For context, Missouri is 57th in the current iteration of Bill Connelly’s SP+ rankings. The Tigers rank 48th offensively, 66th on defense and 71st on special teams. The rankings still have some preseason rankings baked in. If Missouri’s performance doesn’t improve quickly, their ranking will continue to drop. The only games the Tigers are currently expected to win are against Vanderbilt and New Mexico State. South Carolina should be a toss-up, but that’s on the road where the Tigers have struggled mightily under Drinkwitz.
It would come as quite a surprise at this point if Missouri didn’t get to four wins. The over/under for the Tigers’ win total should probably be set at 4.5. If forced to pick a side, I would probably take the under. I just don’t know how I can expect this team to win on the road when it’s shown repeatedly it’s unlikely to do so. My prediction for the end-of-season record would be 4-8.
Where did you, the voters in our most recent poll, predict the Tigers to land?
We mostly agree. I hope to be wrong. I would love nothing more than for this team to use the Abilene Christian performance as a turning point in its season.
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