Watching Mizzou play football yesterday exposed some pretty simple truths. First, Luther Burden is a lot of fun. Next, Dominic Lovett is also pretty special, and he’s not alone. Mizzou has some weapons. But the last simple truth is they don’t have the Offensive Line play for the difference makers to make a difference.
A win is a win. And there’s a lot to like about the fight Abilene Christian showed; they were 2-0 coming into the game and it certainly looked like a team who can be competitive in the FCS. But Mizzou isn’t competing in the FCS, they’re in the reported best league in the FBS. And things are sketchy right now. Most of that seems to extend from the fact that the Offensive Line just hasn't been good enough. We’ve spent plenty of space here talking about it, and I’m sure more time will be spent talking about it. So I won't spend much here.
I’m reticent to bring up anything related to Gary Pinkel, but GP is our most recent connection to the kind of higher level success we’re seeking under Eli Drinkwitz. Pinkel was the coach from 2001 to 2015 and in that time 36 players were drafted. 40 if you include the players Pinkel signed but finished their careers under Barry Odom. So out of those 40, nearly 1⁄3 of them were Defensive Lineman, 6 were Offensive Lineman. In total, that’s 20 players out of 40 were lineman.
The Quarterback situation was solved more often than not, but the real difference was made on the Line.
To his credit, the defensive line problems of the last few years appear to be solved, or at least patched up. It’s not perfect but the numbers approach to fixing any DL issues looks like it worked. The defensive line has largely played well and they haven’t even gotten into some really talented younger players.
Maybe Bence Polgar being ineligible this year threw too big of a wrench in the plans. Maybe Hyrin White’s health threw another. But either way there have been no answers along the line. With Mike Maetti at Center, White and Foster on the outside, the guard spots were easy enough to gloss over last season. But while Luke Griffin, Connor Wood, Xavier Delgado, and Case Cook weren’t great, they were all serviceable.
Drinkwitz has been the head coach now for three seasons, he’s seen these guys perform for multiple years and still can’t seem to bring in the right mix on the line. The player development is an area that’s going to be questioned. By my count 12 Offensive Lineman have seen snaps in some form in the first three games. But only 6 have started (Xavier Delgado sat out yesterday’s game with an injury). Griffin stepped in to start in his stead, but he started six games last year so you would think that wouldn't be a problem, unless he hasn’t gotten better.
I’m not an offensive line wizard, far from it. I’m probably the opposite of it. I don’t know blocking schemes or assignments or any of that. But I know what they’re doing isn’t working. And I’m a proponent of trying to fix things that aren’t working. If there’s to be belief in this team and program that progress is being made this year the offensive line needs to see some levels of improvement as the season goes on.
I wanna talk about this tweet from earlier in the week also, since there’s context for it based upon the results we’ve seen in College Football lately.
With news of Josh Heupel's raise, an updated look at the SEC coaches' salaries:— Chris Low (@ClowESPN) September 16, 2022
Saban $11.7 M
Smart $11.25 M
Fisher $9.5 M
Kelly $9.5 M
Kiffin $7.4 M
Napier $7.4 M
Stoops $7.4 M
Pittman $6.2 M
Leach $5.5 M
Harsin $5.25 M
Heupel $5 M
Drinkwitz $4 M
Lea $3.75 M
Beamer $2.75 M
The sheer amount of money we’re paying College Football coaches is really striking. Kirby Smart is making 4 times what Shane Beamer is making at South Carolina. And the SC Administration has shown a strong willingness to pay for its program. So if Beamer finds some success this year or next I’d expect him to get a serious bump. Eli Drinkwitz is being paid more than just two SEC Football Coaches. Incoming Texas coach Steve Sarkisian is making $5.4 million, and Oklahoma coach Brent Venables is making about $6.5 million.
Florida had to pay Billy Napier over $7 million to move to Gainesville. With the base of talent they often have there, and an elite Quarterback with early NFL 1st round draft grades... he barely beat South Florida, got smoked by Kentucky, and tripped up Utah in week 1. Texas A&M is paying Jimbo Fisher almost $10 million to dink and dunk his offense to close wins over most, and close losses to Appalachian State.
There has been so much consolidation of power at the top. Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio State are elite teams. It’s possible to catch them on any given Saturday but for the most part if they’re on their game you’re getting steam rolled. South Carolina says hello, a team who many thought could make some noise in the SEC East this year.
After that there’s a handful of teams who are probably pretty good. Michigan springs to mind, possibly Clemson, probably Oklahoma. Then there’s another team in there, but after that it’s a jumbled mess. Arkansas is paying Sam Pittman $6.2 million to eek out wins over Missouri State. LSU is paying Brian Kelly $9.5 million to blow games against Florida State. And let’s not even get to where Nebraska paid alum Scott Frost like $15 million to go away 3 weeks before it could’ve been half that.
College Football coaching is wild. It’s a crapshoot when you go to hire someone. You better sure you believe in who you got, and give them the runway to succeed. Pay them a lot, and even that’s no guarantee.
Oh and having an Offensive Line who can block well helps a lot.
Other SEC Scores:
- Georgia (1) 48, South Carolina 7
- Alabama (2) 63, UL Monroe 7
- Kentucky (9) 31, Youngstown State 0
- Arkansas (10) 38, Missouri State 27
- Tennessee (15) 63, Akron 3
- Florida (18) 31, South Florida 28
- Ole Miss (20) 42, Georgia Tech 0
- Penn State (22) 41, Auburn 12
- Texas A&M (24) 17, Miami (13) 9
- LSU 31, Mississippi State 16
- Vanderbilt 38, Northern Illinois 28