10 things we learned from Mizzou football this spring | Mizzou Sports News


COLUMBIA, Mo. — Missouri’s Eli Drinkwitz might have an edge over his Southeastern Conference peers: He likely knows more about his team’s strengths and weaknesses than other SEC coaches know about their respective rosters. .

That’s the advantage of having your spring game on March 19 while the rest of the league waits until April. Most SEC spring games start this Saturday or the day after, but Drinkwitz wrapped up practice for Mizzou last month, giving players more time to heal injuries and coaches more time to prepare for the season. and recruit for the future.

The Tigers begin preseason camp in nearly four months, and even though they’re stepping away from the spotlight until then, there’s still plenty to do.

“Part of the reason we do it the way we do (early) is that you have a whole month of April…and a five-week training block to increase your strength, speed, agility , your fundamentals,” Drinkwitz said. after the spring game. “Then you are going to have this month of May, which is going to be on (players). They are going to have time off at home before they have to come back and it will depend on their discipline and their will to maintain what they have won.

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Culminating with the rare entertaining spring game that, unlike most glorified spring scrimmages, felt like a real game, there was a lot to learn about Drinkwitz’s third team at Missouri. While his recruiting success may start paying off this fall, critical questions remain. Here’s what spring taught us about the 2022 Tigers.

1. Both QBs can move chains

Brady Cook and Tyler Macon produced promising moments in the spring and in the final scrimmage. Drinkwitz won’t be naming a starter anytime soon — more briefly — but the two underclassmen held their own, combining to lead their units to nine combined touchdowns in the spring game. They also turned the ball over three times, a red-zone interception for Cook and two picks for Macon, one of which returned for a touchdown. Cook was the more efficient passer of the two, completing 16 of 20 passes for 191 yards and three touchdowns for a QB rating of 199.7. Macon completed 16 of 23 for 233 yards and a touchdown for a 151.6 rating.

“I thought they both had good things and bad things happening to them in the game, and they both had to respond in their own way,” Drinkwitz said. “Both of them conducted training to really have a chance to take the lead or come back. I thought, obviously, that Maco had practice at the end of the first half. And then Brady took down his team and scored with very little time on the clock, which was hugely impressive. Tyler had to drive lucky to go for two to win the game. So that was good. Obviously, they both made mistakes that they are going to have to grow and learn from. And that’s part of it, it’s better to make that mistake in a spring game than during a game. But both made mistakes that really put you behind the eight ball trying to win a game. And so we have to learn from those and grow from those.

2. Another QB in the mix?

And we’re not talking about four-star rookie Sam Horn, who arrives in June. The most intriguing quarterback of the spring game was former Georgia starter JT Daniels, whom Drinkwitz has recruited heavily since entering the transfer portal in January. It’s a clear signal that MU want to upgrade the group with a more experienced contender. Daniels also toured Oregon State and plans to visit West Virginia. Wherever it lands, it will show up expecting to start.

3. Wideouts galore

The wide receiver’s talent and depth were on full display in the spring game — and not just a certain five-star freshman. Dominic Lovett made plays all over the field and led all players with 109 receiving yards. Chance Luper, Tauskie Dove and Barrett Banister scored touchdowns on impressive plays. Lovett, a sophomore from East St. Louis, went from wide receiver to slot machine and thrived as Macon’s primary target.

“I think we tried too hard to move him (last year) and didn’t let him settle down to get good at something and then develop his opportunities from there,” Drinkwitz said. “I think ultimately I was too greedy.”

4. ‘TD Luther’ does not disappoint

It might be impossible for freshman Luther Burden to live up to the huge expectations as the nation’s top-rated receiver rookie, but he looked the part in the spring. He earned his No. 3 jersey after just one practice, then put on a show in the spring game, finishing with 81 yards and a touchdown as Cook’s No. 1 target.

5. Busy backfield

As Tyler Badie prepares for the NFL Draft, Drinkwitz has stockpiled a fleet of guards to replace the SEC’s top rusher. Stanford transfer Nate Peat showed his speed on a long TD run, while Cody Schrader (Lutheran South/Truman State) powered his way to a spring game-best 68 rushing yards. Freshman Tavorus Jones will get a chance when he arrives on campus, but Drinkwitz will have several options if he considers a committee approach.

6. Not Proven Tight Toe

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows on offense. Hyrin White’s lower leg injury could leave the Tigers without their best option at right tackle. There are tight end depth issues after the top three players from last year left the program. Buffalo transfer Tyler Stephens brings some experience but injury sidelined him. Redshirt freshman Gavin McKay was the only tight end credited with a catch in the spring game.

7. New wrinkles on D

New defensive coordinator Blake Baker didn’t expect his system to be fully structured and installed by the spring game, but the basics have taken shape. He will stay with Mizzou’s four-man base forward with two inside linebackers on the field in the base package and five defensive backs. The notable change comes at the nickel or star position, where Baker prefers a third safety on the ground instead of a third cornerback. One thing is certain: Baker, an experienced FBS coordinator, won’t face a steep learning curve like his predecessor Steve Wilks, who spent all 15 years in the NFL before his one year at MU.

8. Surplus security

Baker never had his full arsenal of playmakers available as several veterans recovered from injuries, including cornerbacks Ennis Ennis Rakestraw (knee) and Kris Abrams-Draine (shoulder) and safety Martez Manuel (elbow) . But Baker must have liked what he saw of redshirt freshman Daylan Carnell in star position, who had two interceptions in the spring game, and safety Joseph Charleston, a transfer from Clemson who led the game with six tackles. Both could improve the athleticism at the back.

9. Instant Impact

With Charleston and Peat, other transfer additions have the chance to contribute immediately. Linebacker Ty’Ron Hopper (Florida), defensive tackle Jayden Jernigan (Oklahoma State), center Bence Polgar (Buffalo) and cornerback Dreyden Norwood (Texas A&M) all made good first impressions and got some work done as starters

10. New Year, New Leaders

The Tigers need a new class of leaders to emerge and a few veterans stood out in the spring: Banister, offensive linemen Connor Wood and defensive linemen Isaiah McGuire and Darius Robinson, all of whom served as captains during the spring game. There’s no truth to the rumor that Banister, returning for his sixth season, will have his doctorate by the end of the season.

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