The Missouri Tigers got walloped by Kansas State 40-12 on Saturday after showing up flat and turning the ball over four times through the air. After the first offensive drive that ended in a Harrison Mevis field goal that made it 3-0, Tigers, nothing seemed to go right for Missouri. It was all Kansas State from there on out.
It's not a shocking result that Kansas State won, they were favored in the game by more than a touchdown after all, but it is the fashion in which Missouri lost and how in year three of Eli Drinkwitz, the Tigers came out looking unprepared and overmatched by a team they should be about even with.
There was nothing good about the game. It's the kind of game that makes the team and fanbase look themselves in the mirror and wonder if this thing is going in the right direction. Similar to the Tennessee game last year, fans are discouraged by such a deflating performance.
There will be hot takes, there will be fans that want everybody fired, and there will be those who claim for the twentieth time they're done with Mizzou football for good. I'm not here to tell you how to feel or change your mind about everything but I do have my own personal thoughts so let's dive in.
The quarterback position is worse than anyone thought
We Knew that Brady Cook would probably be a game manager type of player that would be able to win Mizzou games but nothing spectacular. He looked to be about that in week one against Louisiana Tech but today he was a detriment to the team. Cook was 15/27 for 128 yards and 2 interceptions and he looked completely incapable of moving the ball through the air. He missed an open Luther Burden twice for plays that could have been touchdowns and while he can run the ball, he probably took off more times than you want to see. Cook would get banged up some time in the second half which resulted in backup quarterback Jack Abraham being put in the game and he was even worse. Abraham went 0/3 with two interceptions.
Maybe it was a really bad day, but Missouri didn't look like it had a quarterback that belonged in the SEC (or Big12) that could play. Eli Drinkwitz said after the game that he never considered putting in four star freshman Sam Horn. Do with that information what you will, but if I was the head coach I'd probably consider it next week. It's clear why Drinkwitz targeted every quarterback with a pulse that entered the transfer portal in the offseason. Missouri could have used one today. If this is the kind of quarterback play we can expect for the rest of the season, we might have to reset expectations.
Drinkwitz's play calling let the team down
I've certainly questioned Drinkwitz's play calling at times but in the past I've brushed it off as Drinkwitz not having the personnel to do what he wanted, which is still true to an extent. However, today it really felt like his play calling on offense was a disservice to the team as well as everyone watching. Why is there so much east and west and reliance on the running backs to make plays? I understand you don't have a great quarterback but you have to find a way to get the ball in the hands of your best playmakers. When you're running the ball so much to the point the opposing defense is selling out to stop the run every play it probably means you need to try something else and everyone could see it except for Drinkwitz. The dependency on running the ball was also strange when the offensive line wasn't creating very many holes. It's like Drinkwitz didn't even know the team's strengths.
People have suggested that Drinkwitz bring in an offensive coordinator and that may or may not help but if he does it begs the question, what was Drinkwitz brought in to do? The offense was supposed to be his bread and butter and we know he doesn't really touch the defense. If he isn't calling plays what is he doing? Sure he can bring in an offensive coordinator to blend ideas but will it change much? We also can come to the conclusion that Drinkwitz simply isn't the type of guy to swallow his pride and do so. He could've done it the past two years and didn't. He's also pretty stubborn when it comes to changing quarterbacks (Maybe today is an example of why). Drinkwitz is going to do what he wants but he needs to open the playbook a bit more if he hopes to win more games. We've heard Drinkwitz admit multiple times now he had to do this but we've yet to see it.
The Defense is good
The defense was terrific in week one outside of a couple big passing plays, but Kansas State was going to be their first big test. While the Wildcats moved the ball fairly easy on their first few possessions, defensive coordinator Blake Baker made adjustments and the defense carried Missouri long enough for them to have a chance in this game. Wildcats quarterback Adrian Martinez came back down to earth and Missouri contained running back Deuce Vaughn as long as they could. The offense did the defense no favors by putting them back on the field over and over again. If not for the defense in this game, the score may have been a lot worse, which is scary to think about.
The season is not over
Contrary to popular belief, the season isn't over. Yes this isn't the result you wanted. Nobody wanted it. Drinkwitz and the players are just as ticked off about it, and this is a loss that shouldn't happen at this point in the Drinkwitz tenure. Yet, we saw a similar game like this happen last year when Missouri got blown out at home by Tennessee and the defense had hit rock bottom. Despite that, they were able to turn the season around and rally to win enough games to go .500 on the season. It is still early in the season and it is reasonable to think Missouri won't be as bad as they were today all season. They have some things that have to get figured out for sure such as the quarterback position but they'll have plenty of time to do so and have an easy game against Abilene Christian next week to try some new things and maybe find answers. It's totally understandable to be upset by today's loss but one game doesn't define the team. If we've learned anything about this team over the past couple years it's that there will be other games they lose that they shouldn't that will be offset by them winning games that they should probably lose.
Missouri still needs time
Nobody wants to hear it in year three but it's true. Eli Drinkwitz and Missouri still need (and are going to get) more time before we can lay any sort of expectations on them. There were probably some who were hopeful this team would surprise people and win eight or nine games. That was probably always unrealistic. Barry Odom got four years before he got canned and Drinkwitz is probably going to get at least four before any judgement by the AD and here's the thing - Any coach you hired was probably going to need and get that time as well.
Yes, Drinkwitz is a great recruiter and we haven't seen the results on the field quite yet which is why there is a bit of pause, but most of Drinwitz's recruits are still underclassmen. It is frustrating to hear for people since Drinkwitz has the transfer portal and teams like Arkansas and Tennessee who hired new coaches the same time as Missouri seem to be rolling, but Odom left the talent cupboard bare when he left and he didn't have a future to sell the fanbase on. Drinkwitz at least does. There's still Sam Horn and the idea that Drinkwitz's past couple classes start showing progress, and if that happens, he probably gets a pass. If it doesn't improve, then there will be some tough decisions to make.