No. 21 Missouri returns to the comfort of Faurot Field after picking up victories in Nashville and St. Louis. No. 23 LSU comes to Columbia with its high-flying offense after a thrilling 55-49 loss at Mississippi. Here’s what Eli Drinkwitz had to say on Tuesday ahead of a highly anticipated top 25 matchup.
On facing quarterback Jayden Daniels: “I think he’s just the sixth player in FBS history to pass for 10,000 yards and rush for 4,000 yards in his career, so that’s rare, you know, to be able to do both. He’s a difficult challenge because he’s an elite player. He’s right there from a statistics standpoint in all of the Heisman conversations or should be, so you know, our defense is going to have to accept the challenge. We’ve got to play good solid defense.”
What type of coverage is needed to stopping LSU’s offensive unit: “Probably all of the above. You’ve got such a good quarterback that you’re gonna have to have a lot of different presentations for him. You watch the Arkansas game, they line up in man-to-man and he knows exactly where the ball is supposed to go and you watch the Ole Miss game and when they gave man coverage, he knows exactly who their man beater is and he puts it exactly where he’s supposed to. So he does a really nice job of recognizing coverage.”
On what stands out in facing wide receiver Malik Nabers: (An) explosive player, yards after catch opportunity, and can extend the field vertically. He’s got really good ball skills and body control. Makes all different types of catches.”
On LSU’s pass defense: “When you go back and watch the game against Ole Miss, (Jaxson Dart) played exceptional. He is a really quick decision-maker, got the ball and his guys in space...They’ve battled some injuries. They’ve got a lot of different people rotating through there. But they’re really talented and really dont give up the deep ball very much. I don’t see people just completing a lot of vertical throws on them.”
Thoughts on Theo Wease in the red zone: “There’s a comfort level with him and Brady (Cook). They’ve been repping a lot together, so the quarterback knows that he can give him the ball, and with his catch radius, there’s a good possibility that he will come down with it.”
On Luther Burden III growth: “I think it’s been everywhere from top to bottom. I think it’s just maturity. I think you know, we talked to him a lot about when you mature off the field, the product on the field becomes much better, and not like there was a whole lot of different things but just his eating habits. He doesn’t sit around eating Skittles all day, you know. He’s focused on what he’s putting into his body...He was not even close to 100%. You could tell in the game, like making people miss his ankle, was still bothering him, but man, his competitive spirit is so strong.”
More on Burden and his preparation: “There’s not as many busted assignments. He knows exactly where the plays are going. He could probably tell you, you know, the past it was about what his job was. I think he can tell you all the wide receivers (jobs).”
On Austin Firestone after collecting his first collegiate sack: “You don’t get to schedule an opportunity. You got to be ready for it. Austin is one of those guys that’s here every morning around 6:15 in the weight room doing extra yoga, working out on his own, spending extra time.”
The growing confidence of the offense: “I think that every week, we’re getting a little bit better. Your confidence comes from your preparation. I think the way these guys attack practice on Tuesdays and Wednesdays gives them a lot of confidence to execute. We go against a very good defense, and we get our good-on-good segments in, and it’s a real battle each and every week, and I think our guys are starting to become more confident in the schemes.”
What Drinkwitz thought of Missouri’s pass coverage against Vanderbilt after struggling early throughout the season: “In the first three quarters, we did a nice job in coverage. You know, we had a couple of lapses there in the fourth. We tried to jump a route instead of playing our hook-to-curl responsibility on one of them, and obviously you got to play top-down and can’t have a guy behind us in a thirds coverage, so those are things we’ll look to get corrected.
What impressed Drinkwitz during Missouri’s win over Vanderbilt: “I was more impressed by the amount of protection that we provided the quarterback and think specifically on our shot plays down the field, our quarterback was really clean. That was good. I think I was a little bit more surprised by how our run fits worked defensively. I think we did a really nice job of limiting their runs.”
On what he wasn’t impressed with: “I’m disappointed in the backside of our run schemes right now. Dwayne Ledford has a sign for the Atlanta Falcons (saying) front side wins games, backside wins championships, and right now our backside run blocking is not very good at all.”
On Brady Cook sliding: “You know, Coach (Kirby) Moore doesn’t yell a whole lot. Last week in our practice he was yelling at (Brady Cook) his butt to slide. So, I think there was a big emphasis on making sure the quarterback knows that he’s got to take care of himself. He’s just got to learn the difference between knifing and sliding and when we need to finish forward because he keeps costing himself yardage by leaning back too quickly because as soon as you initiate the slide, that’s when the ball gets the spot.”
- Darius Robinson is questionable with a soft tissue injury.
- Mekhi Miller is questionable with a head injury.