Missouri head coach Eliah Drinkwitz speaks during NCAA college football Southeastern Conference Media Days, Monday, July 17, 2023, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/George Walker IV)

Eliah Drinkwitz Has High Hopes for Mizzou

Eliah Drinkwitz has a lot to prove as he enters his fourth season as head football coach for the Missouri Tigers. Missouri has a 17-19 record during his tenure and has established itself as a middle-tier team of the SEC. But being stuck in the middle is not good enough for the outspoken head coach. While appearing at SEC Media Days on Monday, Drinkwitz made his intentions very clear: re-establishing Mizzou as one of the top programs, not only in the SEC, but in the entire country.

New Year, New Staff for the Tigers

Despite meddling around the .500 mark during his reign, the Mizzou higher-ups have made it clear they are trusting the process with their head coach. Last season, Drinkwitz was given a two-year extension through 2027. A lot of the focus was on the “upward trajectory” of the Mizzou program. Under Drinkwitz, the Tigers had their best recruiting class in program history in 2022. Drinkwitz is determined to prove their decision was the right one.

After hiring Blake Baker as their new defensive coordinator last season, Missouri needed to make another landmark hire this offseason. While Drinkwitz was the primary play caller last season, the offense lacked efficiency, only averaging 24.8 points per game. Enter Kirby Moore. Moore served on the Fresno State staff for six seasons and helped lead the Bulldogs to the Mountain West title this past year. While he may not be the primary playcaller anymore, Drinkwitz had nothing but praise for his new offensive coordinator.

Uncertainty on the Offensive Side

Brady Cook seems to be the leader in the locker room to remain the Tigers’ signal caller next season. Despite suffering a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder in September last season, Cook started every game for Mizzou. His performance was solid, if not spectacular. Cook had a near 65% completion percentage and dished out 14 touchdowns to only seven interceptions. Additionally, he added 585 yards and six scores on the ground. However, after undergoing shoulder surgery in December, his job is not fully guaranteed.

The pressure seems to be on Cook to keep his job, but if he falters, Mizzou has options. Redshirt freshman Sam Horn and Miami (FL) transfer Jake Garcia are a pair of former highly-touted prospects that are sure to be on Cook’s tail to win the job. No matter who the quarterback is, however, they are guaranteed help in the form of the ultra-talented Luther Burden III.

A former five-star recruit, Burden III has become a master-of-all-trades, whether it’s in the air, on the ground or on special teams. However, with Mizzou losing Dominic Lovett, a First-Team All-SEC member, to Georgia, Burden III has a new responsibility to become the main component of Mizzou’s offense.

More Money, Less Problems

The College Football world was turned upside down overnight thanks to NIL. While some state legislations are opposed to NIL altogether, Missouri legislators have taken a different approach. On Monday, Missouri governor Mike Parsons signed a law that gives Missouri student athletes a chance to gain endorsement deals while still in high school if they sign a letter of intent to attend college within the state. While Drinkwitz was in the headlines for his comments on NIL just months ago, he took the safe route while speaking on the matter Monday.

These new laws take effect before the start of the 2023 season. With Drinkwitz already proving himself to be a solid recruiter, the new Missouri NIL laws will likely be of benefit for the program’s future.

Following the Tiger Trail

Mizzou is set to kick off their season with three home games, including their opener against South Dakota. If the Tigers can answer their questions, Drinkwitz’s goal of reestablishing Mizzou may be achievable.

About Max Bernstein

Max Bernstein is a South Florida native who is a Journalism student at the University of Florida. He is specializing in the Sports and Media track, and is currently in his Freshman year at UF.

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