Updated: Oct 1, 2020
Mizzou lost to Alabama 38-19 at home last Saturday in Eli Drinkwitz's debut as Mizzou's Head Coach and while the Tigers got handled, they showed a lot of promise.
Not a lot of people expected MIzzou to beat Alabama on Saturday, actually, no one did, and if you did think so you're probably overly optimistic and that's ok. Mizzou did a lot of things well but also left us with some questions that will need answers. Lets's look at some of the takeaways:
The defense looked pretty good
You're probably thinking, "How can a defense that gave up 38 points be good?" well let's cut Mizzou some slack, Alabama is probably the best team in the country. Starting linebackers Devin Nicholson and Nick Bolton looked strong as everyone expected. The defensive line did not get much pressure most of the game but again, credit to Alabama offensive line. DE Trajan Jeffcoat joined the team late once again and played significant snaps and Kobie Whiteside looked like a different player without Jordan Elliott being there next to him but we will need to wait to make a final judgement on the D-line. The cornerbacks could have been better and there was simply no answer for Jaylen Waddle who had 134 yds and 2TDs on 8 catches for Alabama. That being said, Jarvis Ware went out early with an injury and Ennis Rakestraw looked decent as a true freshman starter. What really caught my eye was the safety play. Joshua Bledsoe and Tyree Gilespie were flying around and hitting hard as well as Martez Manuel who had 3 TFLs. The defense will get better as time goes on but they definitely showed they can compete despite the bad matchup.
2. Mizzou will probably use two QB's
Shawn Robinson was the starter but he essentially split snaps with Connor Bazelak. Bazelak flashed especially at the end of the game with a rushing touchdown. Bazelak missed a few open receivers but will come along. Robinson who didn't get much help from his offensive line still completed 76% of his passes which was the best in the SEC. Both quarterbacks showed something and Coach Drinkwitz mentioned how he's comfortable using both going forward.
3. Eli Drinkwitz has his team looking disciplined
Remember last year pulling your hair out when Barry Odom's teams kept getting stupid penalty after stupid penalty? You didn't see any of that from this year's Tigers. Barry Odom's teams accumulated a lot of penalty yards from unsportsmanlike penalties over the years. Drink seemed really engaged on the sidelines and the players kept their cool. It was a refreshing sight.
4. The offense was slow but should get better
The Offensive line is very thin this year and got punched in the mouth early but seemed to get better as the game went on. The receivers did not do much and the new grad transfers, Damon Hazleton and Keke Chism did not see much action lining up against Alabama's defense. Jalen Knox, however, looked impressive with 63 yards and his speed was effective most of the game giving himself and others opportunities. Senior Larry Rountree ran strong getting 67 yards on just 14 attempts. Tyler Badie didn't o much rushing but broke off a long reception for 54 yards. The offense was stagnant for awhile but Drink showed aggressiveness on 4th down and while they never converted, you have to give credit to Alabama's defense and star Linebacker Dylan Moses who is very fast and was sideline-to-sideline all night. Look for the offense to show more versus Tennessee.
5. Give Drinkwitz time
It's difficult to judge Drinkwitz off his first game going up against the best team in the country. Don't jump to conclusions yet. The play-calling I was impressed with it just wasn't fooling Bama and Bama's talent just completely outclasses Mizzou. You should also keep in mind this roster is still 90% of Barry Odom's players. Drinkwitz is on pace to finish with a top-20 recruiting class for 2021. Keep that up for a few years and this coaching staff can really build a competitor here. Mizzou will take on Tennessee this Saturday with a chance for Drinkwitz to pick up his first win and first win against a ranked opponent.