clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Eli Drinkwitz presser notes: Pre-SEC play edition

All eyes on opening SEC play at Vanderbilt, and Brady Cook is one tough quarterback.

Syndication: Columbia Daily Tribune Chris Kwiecinski/Tribune / USA TODAY NETWORK

Eli Drinkwitz and his squad completed a perfect 4-0 non-conference schedule. He now leads the Tigers into SEC play, where they will travel to face a 2-3 Vanderbilt team. Here’s what he had to say leading up to the matchup on Tuesday.

Eli Drinkwitz

On Mizzou being ranked heading into SEC play: “Our goal wasn’t to be ranked; our goal is to play for a championship, and this week needs to be 1-0, so I mean all that is just noise to us. We don’t get caught up in it.”

On facing Vanderbilt’s wide receivers: “It’s going to be a real challenge. Those guys are really talented, really good. I think Jaden McGowan is extremely fast. He’s got shiftiness and quickness off the ball. I think London Humphries is the leading yardage per catch in the SEC, so he’s got the ability to extend the ball vertical, and Will (Sheppard) is as good as anybody in the league in 50/50 balls and back shoulder fades, so it’s going to be a real challenge.

On facing a stout special teams unit in Vanderbilt: “We really haven’t played to our full potential on special teams yet. We’ve had glimpses of being successful there but haven’t put it all together. Jaden had the difference in the game with a kickoff return for a touchdown against Hawaii, so our special teams coverage has got to be really good. Will Sheppard, I believe, is their punt returner, so they’re putting their best players back, and we’re going to have to cover kicks at a high level. That will be a challenge for us this week.”

On getting out of third-and-long situations: “A lot of issues begin with penalties. The drives that we have penalties put us back behind the chains, and then we’re not able to get back into a manageable down and distance. So those are things that are under our control. We had several false starts. We had a personal foul penalty. We had a sack on a second down drop back pass that all resulted in long third downs that we weren’t able to convert.”

On improving on third down defense: “The challenge for us is to figure out what our identity is going to be on third down and stick to it and not as much of a hodgepodge...let;s figure out what we’re going to be good at and get good at it.”

On Brady Cook’s toughness: “Brady is as tough of a quarterback that I’ve been around, and I’ve been around some really good quarterbacks. Honestly, there was no way in my mind I thought (last) Monday or Tuesday he was not playing in that game (against Memphis). I mean, he could barely walk. But in his mind is zero chance that he wasn’t playing. He lived here, I mean, pretty much 16 hours a day. He takes online classes; he was doing online work in the training room, making sure he could do everything he could to play....he took a bit hit at halftime, and I wasn’t quite sure he was going to come back in the second half, and he just goes out there an leaves it all on the field.”

How Cook’s character is contagious: “Our team sees that obviously, and I think the No. 1 requirement of being an elite quarterback is toughness, both mental and physical, and I think he’s displayed those characteristics. Our team is not perfect, but I do think we’re tough. I mean, we are a group of fighters.”

On the confidence built off of playing close games: “They’re all good situations to be in, and your team knows how to execute pressure. I mean, one of our tenets of our team was to play well under pressure. We’ve been in those situations for three straight weeks, and that’s been good for us, and it just gives you confidence that you can do that. Obviously, the SEC is a lot of one-possession games, a lot of fourth-quarter games, a lot of battles back and forth, and we’re going to have to rely on these experiences to get us through.”

On Chad Bailey’s return: “I think Chad has been doing good. I think you can tell that he’s still a little bit rusty as far as speed of the speed and physicality of the game. It’s really good to see him in run fits. I think he’s always really solid there. We got to be better at blitzing the quarterback when he’s blitzing. So, we’ve got to put him in some more competitive situations this week just to continue to ramp up the physicality of playing.”

Injury Updates

  • Brady Cook (Questionable)
  • Brett Norfleet (Questionable)
  • Drew Norwood (Questionable)
  • Ennis Rakestraw (Questionable)
  • Darius Robinson (Questionable)
  • Luther Burden III (Questionable)
  • Mekhi Miller (Out)