Is the Missouri Tigers Head Coach, Eli Drinkwitz good for the Missouri Tigers football program?
In only his second season at Missouri, Eli Drinkwitz has fielded his share of heat regarding his coaching decisions. Specifically, the play-calling. In the Southeastern Conference, the expectations are high. Much higher than Drinkwitz’s previous gig in the Sun Belt Conference.
We would be wise to remember that Drinkwitz has only one year of head coaching experience under his belt. In his season with Appalachian State, he went 12-1 and to a Sun Belt championship.
Moving to the SEC was sure to bring some challenges. The head coaching position is two-part.
Recruiting: Eli is knocking it out of the park on the recruiting side. He has wrangled in several big recruits. Per the contract extension, Drinkwitz will have time to get his crop of student-athletes in. If there is an area that Coach has excelled at, this is it. He has closed several players and has many more in the pipeline, committed to the University of Missouri.
Drinkwitz is putting Missouri Tigers football back on the map. Local kids have shunned Missouri for years. Not since Gary Pinkel has Mizzou been a force to be reckoned with on the local front. Drinkwitz is said to be likable, vivacious, and genuine. This translates well to kids considering Missouri as their school of choice.
Recruiting Grade: A
Coaching: There are many ways to get wins in college football in global terms. In the SEC, there are fewer ways to win. Especially in close games. The Tigers have shown an uncanny ability to lose close games in 2022. Over the season, we have zeroed in on what many think are the two contributing factors to this.
– Brady Cook: Like Drinkwitz, starting quarterback Cook has received criticism for his unsteady play. This has been instrumental in some Missouri losses. Cook is not likely to put the team on his back, and lead Mizzou to wins week in and week out. He is the prototypical game manager. In most cases, he is efficient. Brady has minimized his mistakes as the season has continued. While Brady shares some of the blame, it is not exclusively his own.
– Eli Drinkwitz: Unlike Cook, Drink has not improved as the season has progressed. The play-calling has left many wondering what the desired result was. No better example of this is the handling of short-yardage situations. If the Missouri Tigers did not have a field goal kicker as accurate as Harrison Mevis, the Tigers could easily be 3-7. Drinkwitz may not be a bad play-caller, but he is not an aggressive one. In the SEC, you must be on attack to win in conference. There is no exception to this rule. Tennessee’s Josh Heupel gave Drinkwitz and the Tigers’ program a first-hand look at how this is supposed to go on Saturday.
The Missouri Tigers must move with urgency and take chances. Drinkwitz for the consecutive week seemed to confuse himself on 4th and short, choosing to not go for it, and ultimately punting the ball. These plays change games. Missouri’s lack of aggression points to a constant safe state of play. Safe play may fly in the Sun Belt conference, but it is not going to work here.
Not only does the Missouri program need to see a change, but so do the players on the team. Eli needs to trust that his team can pick up short yardage and move the chains. To quote Coldplay, Let’s take a breath, jump over the side. How will you know if you never even try?
To be clear, Eli Drinkwitz has done some good things
His recognition and commitment to the running game is obvious. He has done a respectable job of mixing in carries for Nathaniel Peat, Cody Schrader, and Elijah Young. Ensuring that one man does not have to shoulder the load, keeping all guys fresh and less likely to break down. Drinkwitz has also made a conscious effort to get his highly touted recruit, Luther Burden, involved as the season has played out.
Coaching Grade: C-
Drinkwitz is a big-time recruiter. He has hinted at handing over the play-calling reigns. If so, that would not be until next season. At this point of the season, a change to offensive coordinator would be unwise and detrimental to the team, as they need to win their last two games.
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