Mizzou defeated Kentucky 20-10 last Saturday, finally getting the monkey off their back and defeating the Wildcats after a 5-year skid. It was an impressive win and another signature win for first year head-coach Eliah Drinkwitz. There were several big takeaways from the game but we'll only get into a few. Let's dive in:
The Missouri Offensive Line has been really good.
Everyone had questions about the offensive line this year and it was considered a weakness by many. The first two weeks, they were pretty rough, but despite that, they have been very stable and Connor Bazelak has barely been pressure. Missouri lost Yasir Durant, Trevour Wallace-Simms, and Trystan Colon-Castillo from last year's team and everyone though the group would be going through a rough year. However, Case Cook, Larry Borom, and JUCO transfer Zeke Powell have all been really good anchors along the line. On top of that, new starting center formerly from Rutgers, Michael Maeitti, has been very solid and could potentially get some NFL looks, especially after allowing the least amount of pressures last year in the BIG10. The offensive line also craved all kinds of running lanes this season and particularly against Kentucky where starting running back Larry Rountree touched the ball 36 times for 127 yds and 2 TDs. Fans should be surprised and satisfied with their performance this year.
2. Mizzou would love to have that game against Tennessee back
Mizzou was handled pretty easily by the Tennessee Volunteers in their week two matchup that resulted in a 35-12 loss. However, things have changed since then. Mizzou couldn't stop Tennessee's run game and Eric Gray, but since then they have been stout against the run holding LSU to 45 rush yds and Kentucky's top two running backs to just 92 yds combined. Same story with the pass defense. The secondary has vastly improved. Additionally, Tennessee has been poor since that game and since had to bench starting quarterback Jarrett Guarantano. Drinkwitz has also adapted since the first two weeks we'll get into more, but the offense has been much better after finding its quarterback in Connor Bazelak which they didn't have figured out for Tennessee and overall, the coaching staff has just gotten to know the team better. I'm willing to bet if these two teams met up again, Mizzou would win.
3. Once again, Drinkwitz is the real deal
I know everyone wants to look for reasons to love the new head coach and sometimes it gets over-the-top, but Drinkwitz has been everything as advertised. Again, the first two weeks were rough, but the entire program has gelled together as the weeks have gone on. The biggest takeaway from Kentucky was that Drinkwitz can adapt, and adapt well. He's not too stubborn and can change his coaching style depending on the opponent. We saw against LSU how they aired it out and it worked, but against Kentucky he ran it down their throats and never let up. Another takeaway stemming from that is that Drinkwitz also has the guts to admit when he's wrong. On one of Mizzou's fourth down plays against Kentucky, Drink decided to run a read-option and left 3 points on the field and they turned the ball over on downs (Despite that they were 4/5 on fourth downs). After the game, Drinkwitz admitted he should've taken the field goal instead of doubling down on his bad call. That's a football coach. Drinkwitz has been an aggressive play-caller and that's a good thing. He has shown to be a massive upgrade over Barry Odom and he has already beaten LSU, a ranked team, and Kentucky. I hate to be one that takes shots at the former coach all the time, but those are two things Odom never did. Fans have legitimate reason to be excited.