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News and notes prior to Mizzou opening up fall camp

The Tigers open up fall camp on Monday marking the beginning of key position battles

NCAA Football: SEC Media Day Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

Football is upon us. Tomorrow, Missouri officially begins its fall camp with 32 days until its home opener against South Dakota.

“We got overall goals for fall camp, and then we’ve got micro goals. One of the things we’re gonna try to do these first three days is really focus on togetherness,” Drinkwitz said. “Then we will be talking about our mental focus and what’s our mindset going into these practices and camps, then we’ll have edge week, and then we’ll finish off the week with execution, focusing on executing in critical situations.

Even though Drinkwitz will not be the primary offensive play-caller his role will still be similar to the past three fall camps he’s been a part of at Missouri. He did mention that he will probably be bouncing around meetings a bit more but will still focus on offense and quarterbacks.

Speaking of quarterbacks

Drinkwitz noted that there are five things that he’s looking for out of the quarterback position: Toughness, preparation, decision making, accuracy and leadership.

Missouri is going to have a three-way battle at quarterback with Brady Cook, Jake Garcia and Sam Horn. Cook will open camp up as the team’s QB1 despite sitting out this spring after getting his shoulder repaired.

“It’s obviously tough,” Cook said. “That’s probably the first time in my career that I’ve ever sat out in practice, so just not being able to participate, that was tough.”

Cook mentioned that he personally wants to improve on his deep ball accuracy and create more explosive plays which starts with his mechanics.

“I think it definitely starts with your footwork, having your feet in the right place, having your eyes in the right place,” Cook said. “And really before that it starts at pre-snap, so you know what the defense is doing, you know what the most viable option is and then once you get those things right, it’s just making the throw and repping that in the offseason.”

He’ll have to fight off Garcia and Horn but while there’s competition, the three quarterbacks have formed a tight bond within the room.

“I can’t say enough about all of them,” Horn said. “It’s not just Brady and Jake, I mean there’s all sorts of guys in there and we all kind of bond together in the quarterback room and there great so just to be able to build off each other and learn off of everybody’s mistakes.”

Horn also noted that he’s been working on improving his knowledge of the game in learning schemes and defenses but also being a leader and building a connection with all his teammates.

Luther Burden has one goal, and that’s accomplishing something that no other MU players has ever done.

According to Drinkwitz, true sophomore wide receiver Luther Burden has had a good off-season, transforming himself into a better player than he was before.

“He’s had a really good offseason as far as diet and attention to detail and approach to off-season training and conditioning,” Drinkwitz said. “He’s leaner than he’s ever been. He’s got more muscle mass, he’s probably faster than he’s ever been.”

For Burden, the driving force behind him getting into better shape came from the fact that he and MU experienced too many close losses in 2022. It’s something he doesn’t want to feel again.

“Taking a bigger role in the offense, I felt like me, I gotta step my game up as well,” Burden said.

When asked what he wants to achieve this season his answer was simple.

“I want to win the Heisman (Trophy),” Burden said. “That’s my personal goal. I want to be the best in the country.”

More on the wide receiver position ahead of fall camp

Heading into fall camp Missouri’s receiver room is deep and features guys with many different strengths who all will be competing for time on the field.

For the Tigers’ offense, Drinkwitz mentioned how he wants to not only see consistency catching the ball but in the blocking game as well.

“We did not do nearly good enough last year; watch the tape,” Drinkwitz said. “We were poor blockers on the perimeter so we got to be able to run the ball, block the perimeter, (and) block for each other.” He continued, “And then from that point it’s about running routes, making explosive plays and breaking tackles. Whoever does that consistently throughout fall camp is going to have the most opportunities.”

Mookie Cooper is a player to keep an eye out for according to Drinkwitz, as he’s building off of a season where he experienced more opportunities on the field.

“He’s got an understanding of the process,” Drinkwitz said. “He’s been through the trial, he understands what it takes to be prepared of the opportunity, the moment. He trains with a purpose and an edge to him that is very consistent, and he’s a guy that can really be counted on.”

Drinkwitz mentioned that during a recent booster event, Cooper was getting an extra workout in and getting prepared for Monday’s practice.

Offensive Line Battle

Drinkwitz made it clear he is excited to see how his offensive line shapes up for the 2023 season and the five best players will get to start.

“I think it’s the deepest offensive line that we’ve had,” Drinkwitz said. “There’s probably eight to nine guys that could end up being watching that unfold would be really fun.”

Cam’Ron Johnson will get to compete with Connor Tollison at the center position. If Johnson struggles at snapping, Drinkwitz said that the staff will not be reluctant to let him compete at a different position. He also believes that Tollison is a guy who is versatile and can play multiple positions along the offensive line.

Ty’Ron Hopper poised for an even bigger 2023

No transfer last year on defense made a bigger impact than Florida transfer Ty’Ron Hopper, who collected 13.5 tackles for loss and 59 solo tackles. However, defensive coordinator Blake Baker sees even more room for him to grow at the linebacker position.

“As many plays as he made last year, he left a lot on the table,” Baker said. “As good as his season was he knows he can be so much better.”

Baker noted that within Missouri’s experienced defense that a lot of guys returning took a step forward when it comes to leadership and maturity with Hopper being in that conversation.

“When I tell you about seeing so much personal growth in the past 12 months, his has been second to none,” Baker said.

Like Burden, Drinkwitz has seen personal growth to help transform both his body and football mind.

“What I’ve seen from him is more of a commitment to his personal training and lifestyle habits,” Drinkwitz said. “Whether that’s nutrition, the way he attacks the weight room, his body composition, what he looks like, his ability to study film and understanding opponents. All those things that he knew he could continue to grow and I’ve seen those and on the field will let those results speak for themselves.”

Hopper was named Second Team Preseason All-SEC along with Kris Abrams-Draine. A big season by Hopper will surely boost his draft stock for next spring.

Other Notes

  • Drinkwitz started out his press conference stating that redshirt freshman defensive back, Issac Thompson, suffered a lower body injury last week and will be out for fall camp. There is no update for his return, but everyone else is clear to go.