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Last season at Missouri, we witnessed just how crucial it is to have a quarterback ready to go in times of uncertainty. The way the QB situation played out was probably not ideal for Eli Drinkwitz, with Connor Bazelak struggling against SEC opponents.
Drinkwitz did not want a quarterback battle during the season and hesitated at times to put in the backup. I get that the coach didn’t want to put his problems on display in front of everyone, but with the Missouri offense relying solely on RB Tyler Badie because the passing game was doing so little, the time was right to give someone else a look.
Brady Cook then came into the spotlight and had a few decent moments, but he also showed that he needs more work with the coaches, not just two or three days during practice week in the regular season.
Connor Bazelak has since decided to transfer to Indiana, which gives Brady Cook and Tyler Macon enough time to fully digest the offensive system during the offseason without the pressure of trying to win the starting job immediately. This coaching staff has over six months to evaluate the quarterback talent they already have, and four-star Sam Horn is set to arrive in the summer.
“I think it’s really important for both Tyler and Brady to understand the job’s not to be earned in the spring. It’s about going out there and developing and being consistent, learning from mistakes, failing forward, so to speak. Don’t go out there every day with this pressure, ‘If I make this throw, I’ll be the starting quarterback.’ We’re going to add competitive competition. Sam’s going to be able to have an opportunity to earn the job when he shows up on campus.
“We’re competing every single day because we always compete. After the spring game (March 19), there’s not going to be an announcement on who the quarterback is.”
The good part about spring practice for Drinkwitz is that he’ll get more time to evaluate the overall development of the team. Working with the quarterbacks has previously been the job of the Missouri head coach, but during the offseason, he made Bush Hamdan the primary position coach so that he himself could zoom out and focus on “the whole picture”:
“I’m able to yell a lot more. That’s why my voice is quieter, because I’m able to focus on a lot of different positions instead of just one,” Drinkwitz said. “It allows me to kind of see the whole picture and insert myself in a lot of different things, make sure I’m keeping eyes on different fits. It just allows me a little bit more freedom.”
But the overall tone of Eli Drinkwitz when it comes to the quarterback position has shifted greatly over the last few months. He’s going to have a competition that will last until fall camp.
The Tigers could even add one more QB to the fray. Drinkwitz quickly shot down questions about bringing in another quarterback, but there are reports of Arizona State transfer Jayden Daniels taking a visit to Columbia late last week. This could make for an interesting competition over the next seven months heading into the season opener.
One thing that is certain about the Missouri football program is that the quarterback competition will continue to heat up as time marches on. There is no favorite to start, and they all must work just to get the basic principles of this offense down. It was hard to figure out who the right guy was during the season last year, but let’s see what Eli Drinkwitz does when he has a full offseason.
Who knows, maybe the offense will become a downfield threat next season, but Drinkwitz will try to tamper expectations until fall practice arrives.