Before the season we took note of the State of the Program. I’m not going to pretend I knew what to fully expect this season, as last year was such an outlier thanks to the impacts of COVID, and most teams just simply trying to show up and play a game. So, the results weren’t quite what mattered as much as the occurrence.
But it seems expectations were all over the place. From 5-7, to a more realistic 6-6 or 7-5 land, all the way up to 8 or 9 wins depending on who you talked to. I thought 7 wins felt about right. A bowl game is an exhibition — and the expectation each year should be to make a bowl game for this program — so I don’t really care much about the bowl results.
And as we saw last week, Missouri took the field without their star running back, starting the season long backup quarterback, and fielded a secondary mostly eaten alive by attrition. So falling short to Army shouldn’t be much of a surprise considering the circumstances.
This season, Missouri was 6-6. The defense tanked hard in the first half of the season, and recovered enough to watch the offense regress. Mizzou was 68th in SP+ in 2020, and slipped to 70th this year. Most of that was due to a regression on the defensive side of the ball where they tumbled under the watchful eye of new Defensive Coordinator Steve Wilks. But Wilks went from a very real and scorching hot seat, to saving his job and winning over fans by simply being adequate in the second half of the season.
As Wilks was turning the defense around, the Offense became very one dimensional as Connor Bazelak showed serious signs of in season regression. Eli Drinkwitz stuck with Bazelak even when the only answer they seemed to have was to hand the ball to Tyler Badie on a zone read. The brief moment when Bazelak won the game against Florida on a 2-point conversion throw to Daniel Parker, Jr earned him a very short reprieve from the ire of the fan base, and by the Bowl Game, Drinkwitz had finally turned to the backup. When Brady Cook turned in the kind of performance which left us all questioning why he hadn’t been on the field until then?
Through all that, was this season successful?
The only real answer I have is that it wasn’t NOT successful. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Because the reality is that some things were worse than we wanted, some were better. But in the end the most important thing to the rebuild of the season is Drinkwitz has held together and expanded on a truly elite recruiting class.
He’s basically maintaining until reinforcements arrive.
The defense was supposed to be decent, and it wasn’t until it was. The offense was supposed to be better, and it was a disappointment outside of Tyler Badie.
Maybe Year 2 didn’t have to be a raging success, but it certainly could have been better. If Missouri had just found a way to win one other toss up game we’re probably feeling a little bit better about things going into next year. But the ray of light here is Drinkwitz did figure out Bazelak wasn’t the quarterback to get him where he wants to go. Next year he’ll likely entertain a quarterback battle between Brady Cook, Tyler Macon, and incoming freshman Sam Horn.
So consider this my conversation starter. The season is over. In your opinion, was it a success?