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Could Mizzou use two or three QBs in 2023?

Brady Cook will open up as Mizzou’s QB1 once fall camp begins but it is an open competition... and what if it lasts into the non-conference season?

NCAA Football: Missouri at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The most important position in sports is quarterback.

That statement has been strengthened through time at both the collegiate and professional levels and will be a key factor in determining how successful Mizzou will be in 2023.

As Eli Drinkwitz has confirmed, Brady Cook will open fall camp as the team’s starter. It makes sense — he started all 12 games for Missouri in 2022, tallying 3,324 total yards and 20 touchdowns with improved play toward the end of the season. While there is a lot of room to grow in the passing game, he has proven to be a dangerous runner and one of the more mobile quarterbacks in the Southeastern Conference.

However, while talking to local media at SEC Media Days, Eli Drinkwitz made an intriguing statement regarding his signal callers.

“Last year I pulled the trigger real early on the starting quarterback,” Drinkwitz said. “And you look back, and a couple of teams last year went into week two and week three before they named their starter.”

Drinkwitz did note that the position is up for open competition, as with every other position. This opens up an opportunity for Jake Garcia to win the job after backing up and filling in at times for Tyler Van Dyke at Miami. While he isn’t feared in the running game like Cook, he is a more polished passer. Garcia was the No. 2 pocket passing quarterback in the nation coming out of high school and thrives at making his bread by slinging it around in the short and intermediate passing game.

And then there’s Sam Horn, the former four-star recruit, who Missouri fans only got to see for a few plays in frigid temps against New Mexico State. He’s also in the mix for the job, per Drinkwitz.

Having someone who can throw the ball more effectively downfield is a key attribute Drinkwitz mentioned in the battle for QB1. But let’s not discount leadership intangibles, which Cook has earned over the others.

The schedule presents an opportunity

Following the first quote at the top, Drinkwitz went on to say the following:

“I think with the way our schedule sets up, I could easily see us playing multiple quarterbacks in week one and week two if we needed to.”

In week one, Missouri faces South Dakota —the worst of the four Dakota teams— a team that posted a 3-8 record last season, finishing ahead of only Indiana State and Western Illinois in the Missouri Valley Conference. The other three Dakota teams finished one-two-three in the MVC, respectively.

Week two is an evening date with Middle Tennessee State. Now, this is tricky. Rick Stockhill — I didn’t realize he’s been there for 17 years! — waltzed into Columbia before and came away victorious. MTSU, for some reason, plays well at Faurot. The Blue Raiders went 8-5 last season, including a win at Miami where Garcia came in for Van Dyke and went 10-19 for 169 yards. However, it’s important to remember they did play in Conference USA and lost to Louisiana Tech, one of the worst teams in FBS last year.

Missouri will rightfully be favored in both of these games, and while the Blue Raiders shouldn’t be a pushover, they should give the offense time to iron some things out.

While Drinkwitz said the battle could last two weeks into the regular season, I also think it would be intriguing to give multiple guys a shot against Kansas State and Memphis. These two present a true test right before SEC play and give a good perspective on the level of competition you’ll see in October and November.

Give it a shot

It has been a long time since MU ran out a consistent two/three-man QB rotation for multiple games. In 1995, Missouri experimented with Brandon Corso, Corby Jones and Kent Skornia, and in the following season, Corso and Jones split time at the position. In 1999, Kirk Farmer and Jim Dougherty split the duties for the first six weeks. Dougherty and Justin Gage, prior to his stint as a tremendous wide receiver, then split the final two weeks.

Missouri has two veteran guys on its roster followed by a blue-chip recruit entering his redshirt freshman season. It’s fair to give all these guys a shot, and if the battle lasts into the regular season then so be it. Whoever is the best one to put the team in a position to win rightfully earns it.

Should we see a two-to-three-man rotation in 2023? Will we? What are your thoughts?