How does one respond after getting thoroughly whipped by a team that shouldn’t be whipping you? Eli Drinkwitz and the Missouri Tigers, fresh off a decisive loss against former Big Eight and Big 12 neighbor Kansas State, are going to answer that question this weekend when they take on Abilene Christian, an FCS school that should be fairly easy work for the Tigers.
By Matt Zemek
Mizzou hired Drinkwitz from Appalachian State on the basis of one good season. Everything after that has not inspired a lot of confidence in the current MU coach. Drinkwitz did not have 10 years (or even five) as a top head coach in the Group of Five. Missouri gambled on a small sample size. Drinkwitz has been mediocre through three years and there’s little evidence to suggest that he’s going to strike lightning in the near future. He needs to develop his players quickly before the SEC slate arrives.
This is the tenth time Drinkwitz has been beaten by at least three scores in 25 games as the Tigers’ coach. You can hear the grumbling in Columbia, where patience is already wearing thin. Here are the keys to Mizzou avoiding an FCS upset under a coach who needs to earn respect and trust and fortify this team before it’s too late.
Aggressively attack this game
After all the upsets we saw in Week 2, Mizzou should not be complacent. Drinkwitz used to coach at App State, the school which shocked Texas A&M on the road.
The Tigers need a mental reset, and they need to get back to basics. It sounds cliche, but that’s the reality after a poor performance which has not inspired optimism for the road ahead. The coaches need to challenge their players. Making sure this team doesn’t listlessly drag itself through a cupcake game is a good way to instill solid habits for the coming weeks and the SEC schedule.
Find a way to get your quarterback comfortable
The game against Kansas State was just the second time since the end of the 2016 season that Mizzou finished with fewer than 130 passing yards. The first time was in 2021. They’ve both happened under Drinkwitz. The coach knows it’s a problem he must fix, so there’s no better time than a game against an FCS opponent to get those fixes installed into the offense so that they become part of the new modus operandi. Brady Cook, the Day 1 starter, should probably give way to Jack Abraham at some point. Split the snaps, get a look at both guys, and go into the SEC slate with a better look at multiple quarterbacks, not just one.
Make fewer mistakes
There’s a point where being revolutionary has its limits. Just start simply with attainable goals and a recommitment to clean execution. Sound fundamentals have to be the core building block in a restoration project after the Kansas State game. Weeding out the problems is where Missouri has to start from scratch and create a new trajectory for the season.