University of Missouri head football coach Eli Drinkwitz gave some insight into his decision making from the team's 35-10 season opening victory last Thursday night in a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
Following the team's not-so-dominant offensive performance versus the South Dakota Coyotes, many fans theorized that a reason for the lack of explosive plays and rather pedestrian offensive performance, particularly in the passing game, was that Drinkwitz and company were "holding back" revealing too much of the playbook in week one.
PowerMizzou.com's Gabe DeArmond specifically asked Drinkwitz about the possibility to which Drinkwitz responded, "We didn't save anything".
With Drinkwitz giving a definitive no, it dumps a little bit of cold water on the theory that the team didn't want to show off any tricks against an FCS opponent. So, is that the truth? Did Missouri show everything they have on offense and this is what the offense is going to be all year? Let's break down each side of this coin.
Drinkwitz didn't hold anything back
Let's start with the obvious answer. Just maybe, the offense we saw last week is the offense and there isn't some elaborate playbook that is being hidden from better competition.
This was a possibility that was mentioned in our previous "Five thoughts on Missouri's 35-10 win over South Dakota" when the idea was first brought up. Personally, I don't really understand how one could say that when the offense we saw against South Dakota looked pretty much the same as the offenses we've watched for the last two years now. Why would anyone reasonably think there's more to this offense than what we saw?
Some want to pretend like Drinkwitz's words don't really matter. They want to believe that Drinkwitz doesn't want to give off the idea that he has more tricks up his sleeve. That wouldn't really make sense, though. Even if that were the case, he doesn't lose anything by simply stating that he has more to show. Not unless he's specifically telling everyone what it is he's hiding. He also doesn't gain anything by telling people that he didn't hold anything back.
We also have to consider the possibility that the offense truly tried mostly everything they had and that big plays were there to be had, but the offense was still held by by lackluster quarterback play. Just a thought.
Maybe I'm wrong and Drinkwitz is going to play this game with the fans and the media where he gives off a misdirection. It still doesn't make much sense why that would be the case, but maybe I'm wrong.
It's just really difficult to entertain that possibility when we have a two year sample size already that matches the sample of the offense we saw last week. Not to say that last week was their best game they'll play all season, but the concepts all looked the same. It looked like a typical Drinkwitz offense from past seasons despite hiring an offensive coordinator in Kirby Moore. That's also not to say those same concepts can't yield better results with improved personnel, but when you can't even crack big plays against a rebuilding FCS team in week one, it gives people some pause.
There's more to the offense than Drink is letting on
Now let's look at the other and more hopeful possibility: Drinkwitz is holding back major wrinkles to the offense. This is still a possibility so much as we have more games to play. It's early in the season.
It still doesn't make a ton of sense why Drinkwitz would lie and say they didn't hold anything back, but let's operate under the assumption that he doesn't want to give anybody any ideas.
This approach would give teams like Kansas State less worry that they have to prepare for any new wrinkles. At least, that would be the thought process if you're Drinkwitz. If you tell everyone that what they saw last Thursday is all they're ever going to see then not much to worry about, right? Teams can defend screen passes and plays to the sidelines pretty easily, right?
I don't actually believe the offense showed everything they had or ran every play in the playbook from cover to cover. That said, there's reason to be optimistic that all the plays they didn't touch were the ones that we want to see against teams like LSU and Kansas State.
An aspect of this that I don't think a lot of people are considering, though, that I could see being a reason why Drinkwitz wouldn't admit to holding anything back is to maintain respect in the coaching community. Yes, it's only South Dakota and everyone knows that teams generally take FCS opponents among others relatively lightly.
However, that doesn't mean coaches are going to say that or that Drinkwitz is going to say he held back on an opponent. It can be interpreted as disrespectful and can hurt one's reputation among other coaches. Coaches don't want to hear about another coach thought so low of their team and their own coaching ability that they took it easy on them.
All in all, there are some reasons why Drinkwitz could be telling the truth, but I'm sticking with the idea that the offense we witnessed last week is largely what we will see for most of the season. The effectiveness will just vary from game to game and it's all dependent on execution and level of competition.